Tag Archives: Diamond Vogel

Bringing the Community Together

August 19, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Tom Pettigrew was working as a banker at Wells Fargo in the summer of 1989 when his boss approached with a proposition: Would he help coordinate a new public service project?

The plan was to paint houses for low-income elderly and permanently disabled residents. Pettigrew and his team set a goal of painting 10 houses in the Omaha area. But after gathering a group of volunteers, they ended up painting 50 homes that first year.

“It wasn’t being done by anyone,” Pettigrew says. “We said it was like a barn raising, and people came out to help.”

The Brush Up Nebraska Paint-A-Thon is entering its 27th year this summer. Pettigrew, now age 72, remains the program’s co-director alongside his wife, Sheila, 69. The community-wide activity will culminate on the third Saturday of August, with the help of more than 1,800 volunteers.

It’s a project the couple feel passionate about. They started a program in Omaha and have been asked to start programs in South Dakota, in Wisconsin, and across Iowa from Atlantic to Cedar Rapids.

In the U.S., there are 22 million low-income homeowners, many of whom live on social security or an income of less than $1,000 per month. Many of these people are concerned about paying for groceries, not repainting their homes.

“There’s no way they’re going to get this done if someone doesn’t help,” Tom says.

The work builds confidence and makes the homeowners happy, but it also helps them financially.

“In order to get insurance, a lot of times a home has to be painted and in good shape,” Tom says.

Pettigrews1The Pettigrews and their board work with the Department of Health and Human Services to collect the names and addresses of people who need help having their homes painted. They coordinate the volunteers and hand out housing assignments a month before the event.

“That way they have the time to evaluate what they need,” Tom says. “They go to the homeowners, who pick out their paint color.”

The Pettigrews coordinate the donation of supplies and hold a training session on how to scrape, prime, and paint a home. They instruct volunteers on how to properly remove lead paint if they encounter it.

Then, they stand back, and have faith that their volunteers know their jobs.

“On paint day we drive around and see as many houses as possible. The people will be busy, and happy,” Sheila says. “We are not a repair project, yet we find a lot of them will repair things like windowsills. They plant flowers, rake leaves. It’s wonderful.”

“Hal Daub came to paint one year,” Tom says with a smile. “A boy from the neighborhood came over to see what was going on, and Hal taught him to repair screens.”

The couple are astonished and humbled by the way their passion project has grown through the years.

Tom says, “to have teams come back year after year is impressive. We have people who do this year after year, and we’ve gotten to know many of them.”

It isn’t just the individuals that come back. Tom no longer works for Wells Fargo, but the company still puts together teams and paints six homes each year. Other corporations, such as Union Pacific, participate each year. The paint is always donated by Diamond Vogel.

All this work has added up to the brushing-up of 2,724 homes, while building a network of extended friends bonded to their community.

“We get a tremendous amount of satisfaction from this,” Tom says. “We enjoy putting people together to get this done.”

“We meet wonderful people,” Sheila says. “We have friends that we’ve known for 20-some years through this project.”

Earth, Air, Fire, Water

April 30, 2014 by
Illustration by Diamond Vogel

The worldview of ancient peoples often included a set of classical elements in describing the very essence of matter. Earth, Air, Fire, and Water came to symbolize the irreducible powers of the planet.

What could three creative talents do in terms of translating these primordial concepts into the most organic of color palettes?

Let’s see what happens when an award-winning theatrical set designer, a tattoo artist, Omaha Magazine’s creative director, and the color pros from Diamond Vogel use that company’s online Envision Color Visualizer tool to “paint” their inspiration.


“Brown, beige, clay. These are the colors of earth. We have gone beneath the surface to explore what lies below by choosing minerals and gemstones as our inspiration. The soft gold in the stairwell will refract light in contrast to the rich, blue-green of the walls. Entering the bedroom you find the unexpected element of a green ceiling. Remember that ceilings are your “fifth wall.” They offer a very effective, additional field of color. The complementary color on the bedroom wall is Diamond Vogel’s interpretation of Pantone’s 2014 Color of the Year—Radiant Orchid. All of these colors come together and are grounded by the richly hued earth tones of both the carpet and the light beige trim.”

Towanda Marks, Pam McCarthy,and Judy Nowak
The Diamond Vogel Team


“Air? You’ve got to be kidding! What the heck am I supposed to do with that which you can’t see? As it turns out, the answer was right under my nose all along. Glancing down at my drafting table I saw the color palette I had chosen for designing our production of Boeing-Boeing. This farcical comedy set in 1962 features a swinging bachelor who juggles a gaggle of what were then called “stewardesses.” I had selected a somewhat subdued and breezy, ‘60s-themed collection of hues (think Marimekko design mixed with a bit of early Warhol) to evoke an airy, almost weightless feel for the era when jet air travel was still new, exotic, and…well, downright sexy.” 

Jim Othuse
Scenic and Lighting Designer, Omaha Community Playhouse


“When contemplating my assigned element, my mind immediately went to thoughts of enjoying the ambiance of a cozy fire surrounded by low-light candles enveloping me in a serene, flickering glow. It instantly evokes an aura of home, warmth, and safety. As a tattoo artist, I approached the room as I would a tattoo. I chose a combination of colors that compliment each other to create a beautiful and unique canvas. With the element of fire, I thought of reds, oranges, and yellows. I used them here to create a room that feels pleasant, mellow, and comforting…much like a relaxing evening in front of the fireplace.”

Johnna McCreary
Tattoo artist and co-owner, Liquid Courage Tattoos


“My aquatic inspiration came from Pantone’s 2013 color of the year—Emerald. More importantly—and a lot dearer to my heart—is the fact that this is the assortment of colors that my wife, Trisha, and I are using to prepare a nursery as we await the birth of our first child. Clean lines and cleaner palettes are found throughout our home, so I’ve reflected that theme with gray-ish surfaces that exist only to ground and add “oomph” to the brighter, more vibrant hues surrounding them. We’ll be adding coral-tinted accents in throw pillows and other soft elements to punctuate the room with some “pop.” Come late September, the nursery will be the center of activity on so many much-anticipated (but probably sleepless) nights.”

John Gawley
Creative Director, Omaha Magazine