Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Moving the scaffolding

Delux Rental came out to do the first scaffolding move yesterday. We're starting our march down the wall and it feels good to have a chunk finished. Of course there are a few things I'd like to tweak on the now out of reach images. Ann Arbor sign painter and muralist Zeke Mallory had some valuable advise when he told me to remember that a mural is not a fine art painting. I will have to keep reminding myself of that!

The heat is proving to be a serious challenge. A weeks worth of upper 80s and low 90s on a south facing wall overlooking blacktop – with under-painting tinted in bright orange – has made it necessary to plan our day around the sun. We work on exposed areas in the morning, retreating to work under the scant scaffolding shade as the sun moves to the west. Oxford has provided a GoPro camera taking stop-action shots so using a sunscreen on the front is out of the question. My next research project is to find some kind of covering that we can use on the west end of the scaffolding to keep the late afternoon sun less brutal.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

On The Wall

After a shaky start, the mural team of Kyle, Andrea, Anna and Cathy has made progress! I will remind you that I have never painted bigger than my drawing table so this is completely new to me. Hopefully, some of our discoveries and practices will prove interesting and helpful to someone out there.
A crowded parking lot

Finding our footing (literally and figuratively) on painting approaches, responsibilities, scaffolding safety and hydration, we are off and running. We're using the house paint and expertise of local favorite, Anderson Paint. They are the best!

The paint handles wonderfully, except in the extreme heat of late afternoon. No wet blending, we're taking advantage of the quick dry time and blending by dry brush only. Everyone's getting the hang of it. The acrylic painters among us will appreciate the accommodations necessary for the giant dark step in value as the paint dries. It's the charm and irritation of acrylics.

A couple of weeks ago, I discovered that Benjamin Moore lets you view a small paint sample online for all of their colors. A screen grab lets me bring it into Photoshop and eyedropper it for better matching to my digital color painting. There is still the calibration between media that is vexing but it's a wonderful discovery that I hope will save paint cost and mixing time.

So stop by 210 South Fifth Avenue, just north of Afternoon Delight for a peek. We're having fun!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

I've been busy.

It's been almost a year since my last post. (Sounds like the beginning of one of my childhood visits to a confessional)

But I have been busy!

The past year has been both the most exciting and the most exhausting of my freelance career. This coming September will bring the debut of my very first illustrated children's picture book.
This is the scene last January as I was packaging up the paintings to mail to the publisher. The name of the book is The Nutcracker Comes to America: How Three Ballet-loving Brothers Created a Holiday Tradition and it is written by the amazing Chris Barton. More to come on that later.

After a small breather in March, I learned that I was awarded the contract for a gigantic mural project in Ann Arbor. Commissioned by Oxford Properties, it will be painted on two wall surfaces just north of Afternoon Delight on Fifth Avenue. The lower mural is on the south facing wall of Oxford's office building and measures 125' x two stories. The upper mural will be painted on the 3rd and 4th story walls of another office building directly north of the first wall, owned by Rene Papo. This wall is not so long, ONLY measuring 54' wide. I have never done anything like this in my life but I've learned a lot and will learn a lot more before we finish. It will be a grand adventure!

I'm working with three College for Creative Studies students, Kyle Scott, Andrea Del Rio and Anna Posey. Last week, with the able assistance of my good friend Middy Potter, my son Ian and my sister plus family, we transferred the two-thirds of the design to the wall at night using a digital projector. Scaffolding went up on Friday of last week and we put the first paint strokes on the wall this morning before the rain chased us out. The guys at Delux Rental in Ypsilanti were incredibly helpful to my ignorant self. I now know more about scaffolding that I'd ever imagined possible. This is the boss's son giving instructions to his assistant.
Part of the bid included a proposal for a video of stop-action progress of the painting, with interviews and process added in. I was so very fortunate to find an amazingly talented videographer, Patrick Murphy, who had graciously agreed to take on that portion of the project. Because of Patrick, my idea of a iphone-shot amateur production has suddenly turned into a very professional endeavor!

 I will post as often as I can with pictures and more info as we make our way along the painting process. And now, on to painting during Art Fair. Oh, boy.