The Tree is Finished

Posted by on Aug 16, 2017 in commissions, Murals, Three Rivers | 2 Comments

Is the oak tree mural finished?? I think it is, although until the customer sees it (and my oak tree expert says it is believable), the question remains unanswered. 

It took about 20 hours to paint. All that time was alone except for the busy nice man from Delta Liquid Gas, a brief hello from a friend and a check-up by the property manager. I listened to Truman, written and read by David McCullough, listened to music (prolly a little dangerous to listen to “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress” while on the top of an extension ladder), began listening to an updated audio version of How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie (and someone else from the 21st century who applied Carnegie’s principles to the digital era) and spent a lot of time staring and thinking. Building a tree to look believable when none of my tree photos are the right shape takes a lot of thought.

Feeling fairly satisfied with the right side, I focused on the left side. I studied various areas, came up with thoughts like “too narrow, too short, too empty”, then climbed the ladder and tried to remember which thought applied to which area.

This shows twigs now added above the register.

The horizontal branch is too short, too narrow and too empty.

After the left side was done, most of the changes were just tiny adjustments, widening a branch here, adding a few more twigs there, touching up the drips, and just generally polishing things.

FINISHED! (Finished??)

Yep, 3 ladders in the Jeep! (Not my Jeep – I try to work for money, not for fun, I want my money when my work is done.) The extension ladder came with the job; the other 3 are mine. A muralist needs ladders (or a scissor lift, or a scaffold, or a big flatbed truck). 

A Tree Continues Growing in Three Rivers

Posted by on Aug 15, 2017 in commissions, Murals, Three Rivers | 2 Comments

On Day Two of the oak tree mural in Three Rivers, I walked to work, because I didn’t have to haul any paint. That is another benefit of working indoors – all supplies are secure overnight.

Yup. Looked the same on Day 2 as it did when I left at the end of Day 1.

On one of my many breaks, I took this photo through the sliding glass doors. You can see Alta Peak (the elephant!) and Moro Rock. The unsightly palm tree will be going away. And now the house across the street is also for sale – will it also become a vacation rental?? Time will tell. . .

I spent the day studying the mural from below, climbing up the ladder and working until I got confused and too hot. Then I’d climb down again, study the mural some more and make a next step branching plan, figure out which ladder needed to be moved next, reload my palette, and climb back up.

The extension ladder needed to go up another notch, which meant it bumps the ceiling each time I move it. Not complainin’, just ‘splainin’. 

In spite of the air conditioner working hard all day (and it was only about 99ยบ, not in the triples), it was HOT HOT HOT up at ceiling level.

The stroke of brilliance looks really great in the late afternoon light coming in the window.

At the end of Day Two, this is what I had. I fattened the trunk, fattened lots of branches, and climbed up and down all day.

It seemed as if three days would do the trick.

A Tree Grows in Three Rivers

Posted by on Aug 14, 2017 in commissions, Murals, Three Rivers | 4 Comments

A Tree Grows in Three Rivers? Hokey, I know, and I can’t even remember what A Tree Grows In Brooklyn was about.

This is a commissioned mural inside of a home 2 doors away from me. It recently sold and will become yet another vacation rental in a town and neighborhood that is jammed full of such units. But that is a topic for another day, and probably another forum.

Working indoors is a pleasure – climate control, flat surface to stand on, consistent lighting, tunes or an audio book on my old laptop (why didn’t Apple include a CD slot in their new laptops?? – I get SO TIRED of “upgrades”, but again, a topic for another forum.)

This is what I found when I unlocked the door on Monday a.m. (a week ago). The carpet will be replaced, so no tarp was necessary. Weird.

This is outside the house and will have a human sized chess board, which I might be painting next.

I procrastinated a bit before beginning. Giant blank walls are intimidating.

I measured the height of the ceiling, because inquiring minds need to know. 14′. I climbed up the extension ladder and dropped a vertical so I could begin building the oak tree around it. It is the same method I use when drawing trees with pencil on paper (not with blue chalk – just a light pencil line).

The extension ladder was a bit cumbersome, so I went home for my own ladders.

After a bit of staring and thinking, I gave myself some more blue chalk guidelines.

A normal way to paint a mural is from the top down, but trees grow in the opposite direction.

There never is the perfect photo of the perfect tree, so I used all my oak tree photos to remind myself of the bark texture and the branching patterns. It is slow, thinky work.

This was a stroke of brilliance!

The raised hearth is helpful in boosting short ladders.

At the end of day one, this is what 

Gekkos in Three Rivers, Finished?

Posted by on Jun 21, 2017 in commissions, Murals, Three Rivers | 2 Comments

Is my mural, “Gekkos in Three Rivers” finished? A job isn’t finished until I hear from the customer that she is happy. As of the writing of this blog post, I haven’t heard.

The gekko on the left was the next one to be painted. These are the colors I chose. You can see the striking difference from the colored pencil version to the painted one – colored pencils make such wimpy-looking art! (unless you bear down with a zillion layers. . .)

I finished the remaining one – my current favorite color combination of blue with brown (a teal sort of blue with a pinkish grayish brown is really my favorite, but let’s not quibble here).

This is all 3 pairs. I studied them from a distance and then touched up this, that and the other thing. . . a little wider tail here, a few more spots there, painted “fingernails” in a few places, a wider body. . . 

And here you can see them all together.

What a lovely place to work this has been. . . happy sigh of gratefulness for nice weather and a really full river.

Let’s step back and see it in on the gazebo. Don’t you just want to hang out here?

And finally, as it appears from the road. 

It sort of looks like a (wobbly) banner. You can see there is something on it, but don’t know what it might be. Lots of colors, but which ones? Hmmm, maybe it will make people drive more slowly on North Fork.

 

Gekkos in Three Rivers

Posted by on Jun 20, 2017 in Murals, Three Rivers | No Comments

My decision is made: gekko is correct.

Here is how the first set of transferred and redrawn gekkos looked on Day Two in the shade. Still hard to see, but not invisible. 

After applying more blue chalk to the back side of the tissue pattern, I transferred 2 more sets of gekkos to the board, and then went over the top of the chalk with a pencil. (I’m always most comfortable with a pencil in my hand.)

The surface of the board is very rough, so it was with trepidation that I applied paint. I knew the brush would just bounce over the surface and make lumpy edges, so I did not put on my magnifying glasses. If I can’t see the lumpy edges, they don’t exist. 

See? no lumpy edges! The colored pencil version of the first pair is taped alongside so I can match the colors.

It seemed prudent to step back and see how things look from a distance. The first gekko matches the sycamore leaves in the background exactly.

Don’t be chicken and cower with nothing but familiar green paint . . . pick another color and get on with it.

This is how it looked after 3-1/2 hours of painting. It was fun to mix up so many different colors instead of painting miles of trees in 3 versions of dark green. The sun was creeping closer and closer, and although the board was still in the shade, the painter was not. So, I loaded my supplies into the car, stepped back for another photo, and then headed back to the studio for other work. (In case you were wondering, I LOVE the variety in my job/career/business/occupation!)

I can see that some of these little guys need fattening, and it is possible that I will ask Customer if I can add some things in the open spaces around the edges and corners. I’m thinking sycamore leaves might be nice. . . sycamores are native to Three Rivers; gekkos are not. But, Customer is in charge of the content of her mural, so again, more will be revealed. . . .

Gecko/Gekko Mural, Day One

Posted by on Jun 19, 2017 in commissions, Murals | 2 Comments

Customer approved the colors and arrangement of the geckos with interlocking tails, so I packed up my supplies and drove to the river gazebo. The board is a good height for painting, the river is roaring, and there is great shade in the morning. I’m going to enjoy this job!

Where is this place? So glad you asked! It is in Three Rivers, on the North Fork of the Kaweah River, next door to the Arts Center, and it is called “The Bridge House” on VRBO. Here is the link: The Bridge House The gazebo is across the street, and was built on a patio overlooking the river, incorporating bridge abutments from the bridge that washed out in the flood of ’55.

First, the board needed to be painted. I had a partially used gallon of “High Hiding White”, which sounded just right.

I put a coat of white on the board, then went home with some specific measurements so I could figure out how to get the design from 8-1/2×11″ paper onto a 20″x 10′ board. It took a fair amount of measuring and math, tracing and transferring, but eventually I had it on tissue paper, the appropriate size.

When I returned to the gazebo, I saw it needed a second coat of High Hiding White to hide the first coat. This gave me time to think about how to transfer the image from tissue to the board. 

I used blue chalk on the back side of the tissue, taped the pattern to the board in the center, and rubbed it with my finger.

Can you see it?

Neither can I. This will have to be continued on another day when the shade has returned.

Gecko or Gekko?

Posted by on Jun 15, 2017 in Murals, the business of art | 3 Comments

I don’t know the correct way to spell gekko/gecko. Both seem to work.

Who cares? (WHAT?? The Typo Psycho actually doesn’t care how something is spelled??) When I spelled it with 2 k’s, I found better images on Google.

A customer has asked me to design a mural of gekkos/geckos, because they are a symbol of welcome. Here are photos of some of the steps so far, using Photoshop Elements (that’s the baby version) to see how things might look.

Better if that board is painted first. . .

Nope, Customer has a stylized gecko/gekko she likes better than the photographic look here. What can I do with this?

She preferred the 3rd arrangement and suggested colors that she likes. I colored them (on copies with colored pencil) and photoshopped them onto the board.

Mind reading isn’t my strong suit, so it takes multiple sketches, colored sketches and photoshopped versions to see if I am able to portray the customer’s vision.

I await her response. . . more will be revealed in the fullness of time. . .

. . . and you thought I just sit around drawing all day? Nope. Sometimes I get to color too.

 

Weekend In Review

Posted by on May 15, 2017 in Events, Murals | No Comments

The reason for going over subjects like this is because I want to give you a complete picture of what an artist’s life consists of. (No, I don’t get to just sit around and draw all day. Phooey.) 

This could be called “Celebrating Agriculture With The Arts”, but that title already belongs to the Madera Arts Council.

First event of the past weekend was a reception to view and celebrate the new mural at the Tulare County Farm Bureau.

WOW!!

I was given a chance to bid on the project, but when I heard that Colleen Mitchell-Veyna was interested, I told the Farm Bureau to just hire her because she is The Best Muralist Ever. (Then I proposed doing the coloring book, Heart of Agriculture)

First, inquiring minds need to know: why do so many people drive white cars??

Morning light, more distance, and squaring up the camera would do this more justice. Colleen had to revise her design multiple times in order to show off the Best Cow in The Entire Country and to satisfy the bureaucracy in Visalia. 

The event was a good time of reconnecting with people I hadn’t seen in awhile, meeting new people, and catching up with The Best Muralist Ever. 

Colleen, I am so proud of you!

Repainting Mineral King, Day Twelve, Part B

Posted by on Mar 31, 2017 in Mineral King, Murals | 11 Comments

On Day Twelve, the final day of repainting the Mineral King mural in Exeter, I spent a lot of time staring at the wall to determine what might need a touch-up, some polishing, a minor correction. It was hot, and the longer I stood there, the less I could see to do. Fortunately, there were many interesting visitors to visit with while I contemplated matters of possible consequence.

This is an ore bucket, one of the hidden items. It still seems obvious to me, and may be obvious to other observers. Since it is one of 13 hidden items, it is okay to have a few easy ones.

I stared and stared, thinking to show you before and after photos of the polishing process. Now I can’t tell which photos are the before and which are the after.

I added what might pass for phlox and groundsel wildflowers to this hill. The heat immediately turned the paint to the consistency of toothpaste and made the brush thick and unwieldy. The flowers don’t even show in the photos!Finally, I signed it. Had the same trouble with the heat and the paint consistency on the signature. I would have kept the old signature, but the brilliant periwinkle blue color was just too weird. Now that I see it on this photo, I wonder why I didn’t sign directly beneath the plaque. This might require another visit to the wall, on an overcast day when the brush can retain a point and the paint can retain flow.

Then, because there was shade on the other side of the parking lot, I stood back and took a few final photos, because the next time I see this, there will be cars parked alongside.

The color isn’t as good in the afternoon light as in the morning light. I like this because Marty Weekly’s mural “Timber Trail” shows in the distance through the awning. (far right side of photo). Why didn’t Marty’s fade? I’m sure it goes back to the colors I used; in spite of the high lightfast rating, my yellow was most certainly not light fast or fade resistant. This time using different yellows, it WILL last. I insist upon it!

And with this, we conclude our Repainting Mineral King series.

Maybe.

Mineral King Mural, Day Twelve, Part A

Posted by on Mar 30, 2017 in Mineral King, Murals | 2 Comments

First, on Day Twelve, I returned the truck. Just drove it like I knew what I was doing, but sitting there on the giant bench seat, I couldn’t even reach the top of the steering wheel with my hands because it was so huge. Nice Freightliner, and I got it up to 25 mph. Just zipped right along.

Sorry. You probably don’t care about that. 

Then I walked the mile or so back to the mural, and along the way I encountered a good friend from Three Rivers, the man with the Events Room where I painted 2 murals last year (the second one here), stopped in at the dentist office to see if any decisions have been made about muralizing there, and checked in with Rosemary & Thyme to learn they are out of coloring books again.

It was a walking business trip, but I can’t write off the mile for that.

Then, with the Freightliner out of the way, I photographed the entire mural in the morning sunshine. At this distance and these angles, it appears to be finished.

Au contraire!

This lower hill needs wildflowers.

I’m certain there is something needed here, such as better foreground trees or a camouflaging of a hidden item.

But look – what is this? A visiting celebrity, a guest artist, none other than. . . TRAIL GUY!

What could I do except take a break and treat him to lunch?

So, this will be continued tomorrow. . .