Serial Muralist

So now I am a muralist.  A serial muralist. LOL! I just finished a commissioned mural for a dog trainer/pet sitting business. Diana had recently installed a large shed for her new alpacas and wanted the back of the shed to  beautify her property.  Her home-owner’s association (HOA) wouldn’t allow a sign at the end of her driveway, so she opted to have a mural of dogs as a way to indicate to her clients they’d come to the right place.  The shed is 30 feet long, but it is hundreds of feet from the road, so the perspective makes the mural about “sign sized” as seen from the road.

Drawing in progress. Cut-outs of silhouette dogs made the next step easier.

Diana found me through Eugene Urban Canvas, a clearinghouse for muralists in the Eugene, Oregon area. I got listed with EUC because I like painting murals, and frankly, I’ve done a few in my time.

Spray paint around the image cut-outs leave an outline “glow”.

I now have an under-drawing structure.

I started thinking about how many I’d done as I worked on this project and realized there are a fair amount of them stretching all the way back to my high school days when I painted an Arizona desert sunset on my bedroom wall.  Later, in my 20’s, I’d painted a VW Beetle on the garage door of my mechanic as trade for some work on my own vintage bug.  The mural showed the car on a road heading into the coast range mountains, yet another colorful sunset image. Quite a few of my murals have been of sunsets, people seem to really like the color palette of yellow and orange against a gloaming blue sky.

Among some of my murals I’ve painted a fairy princess posed with a crescent moon, a moon over the New York skyline, the city lights of Seattle, ponies peeking out over stall doors, giant horses running across the roof of a barn (at 100 feet long, it can be seen from planes as they land at the Eugene airport), a Star Wars themed sunset, historic images and once, the world series winning Oregon State baseball team. As requested by my client, the baseball mural featured images from the big event and so, sadly, it was painted over when the team won the world series again the following year. Good for them, but it made the mural completely superfluous! It was painted over and something more timeless and generic replaced my work; who knew they would win again so fast? Probably my shortest-lived mural, it was up for less than a year.

You can see this driving north on Hwy 99, just past the Eugene Airport (Oregon) on the west side of the highway.

The entrance to Goss Stadium at OSU… for about a year.

But that’s the nature of murals, they are generally considered public art, so they have to do their job as décor and if that job is linked to a business or a place in time, well, things change and so too then must the mural adapt or perish. I’ve come to accept the transitory nature of murals and have found the ones that last the longest, fit the best into their space and time. I once painted a Tuscan landscape in a client’s craft room, when they sold the house years later, did the mural survive the sale?  When the teen-aged girl who loves horses, grows up and moves out, will her mother still keep the pony visiting over the stall door?  I know my mother did not keep the desert sunset in my teen-aged bedroom; she redecorated and turned it into her sewing room, the sunset replaced with a clothes rack.

I encourage clients to have me paint their mural on canvas or large sign boards, that way if ever a move occurs in the future, the mural can be brought along, or even sold and transferred to a new owner. The Seattle mural benefited from this as the nightclub I painted it for, went out of business and the mural was relocated to another city.

Nine feet long is not easy to transport, but it survived the business!

It’s how I managed to get the fairy princess back, where she now graces my car-park wall. But, it’s also how the same fairy princess was stolen right off the Alpine Market wall and disappeared for a few weeks. She was MIA until the thieves realized they would never be able to display it without advertising their crime and so, late one night, returned her to the back alley behind the store.

Oh where did you go, fairy princess?

Murals have stories to tell, and my newest one is no exception.  While painting it, my client received calls from her Home Owners Association demanding she quit as the mural was unacceptable to them.  Diana had notified the HOA months before that a mural was coming (after they complained about her long white shed) but no questions were asked and nothing more was said about it until the day I outlined the image.  Unfortunately for the HOA, murals are not against the rules, so we continued on, despite further phone calls and a hastily penned letter.  Once again, a mural of mine has generated controversy; not everyone is a lover of the arts.  But when it comes to beautifying your property, it seems some have overstepped the boundaries of good neighbors.  I’m glad I’m not taking it personally that someone called my work “graffiti” before I was even done with it; truly, it says more about them than me.

Blocking in color.

The chief enemy of creativity is ‘good’ sense. Pablo Picasso

Clouds are coming along, grass area blocked in.

As for me, I love changes, change is all about new energy and growth. Change is the essence of creativity, and that sometimes takes courage. This time however, the changes that may be forthcoming could possibly be a renewed and updated HOA or if it doesn’t serve the people as it was intended, then perhaps its dissolution altogether?  It depends on what the neighbors say and how things progress from here on out. Diana is not backing down; she loves her new mural!  If you’d like to support Diana regarding the mural, comment below and I will forward your messages on to her.

Just about there!

There is power and energy in art, and sometimes, the bigger the art, the bigger the reaction.

Finished mural, All Wags and Smiles!

Art is standing with one hand extended into the universe and one hand extended into the world, and letting ourselves be a conduit for passing energy.  –Albert Einstein

Fine Art America!!

Finally!  A page on FAA.

http://fineartamerica.com/featured/the-muse-sky-evans.html?newartwork=true

The muse painting.  Oil on Canvas 2.5'x3'

The muse painting.
Oil on Canvas
2.5’x3′

I just downloaded one image but it was a client request… so that’s something.  Just wanted to share.  I’ll be posting more about this later after I get the whole gallery downloaded.  Hopefully this pans out. If you want to buy art and support an artist, Fine Art America is the place to do it.  Well, I know there are other places…  I keep thinking of things like Kickstarter too and wondering what kind of amazing project I could do… hmmm.   What is a muralist to do???  By all means, weigh in.  I’m willing to do community projects with fundraising venues.  Actually now that I think about it, I have done my share already.  But they usually involved teaching.  Time for something large, noteworthy and very, very interesting.  It’s been awhile since I crawled up on a roof and painted something seen from the local airport!

One should probably not bring children up there.  That would be just fine.

horseroof

Seattle @ Night

SEATTLE@NIGHT

Several years back I was approached by a local nightclub owner for a mural.  While I  love painting murals, they have a habit of eventually being painted over; which may be great for the new owner of whatever wall has now been transformed, but not so much for me.  I don’t know if I will ever get used to the notion that my artwork may be scrubbed out by a fresh coat of paint.  I realize public art (of which most murals are) can be transitory, but rarely do I get any input as to how long or by what decision that temporary status is given.  I may have released the need to interpret my art to others, but I have yet to let go of it’s destruction/transformation at the hands of others.  I’m working on that.

All this prefaces my suggestion to the owner that the mural become instead a large canvas that could be moved when and if the nightclub ever undergoes renovation.  We agreed, I created a sketch for approval, the commission was negotiated and I went to work.

seattleSketch

Seattle sketch

At the time, I was a professional color consultant for a Benjamin Moore retail outlet as well as working as a painting contractor.  BM had a new product line that I found pretty impressive and decided to paint the mural using these new, very dense and very opaque  latex house paints.  Their new line of paints was called Aura and they were being showcased nationwide in the BM trade publication Profiles as well as a variety of marketing outlets.  Seizing the chance for self promotion, I contacted the company magazine and told them what I was doing with their paint.   Which led to this featured article:

My first national magazine article!

My first national magazine.

This project was the biggest thing I’ve ever had in my studio.  The studio itself isn’t that large, so a huge canvas was a challenge.  I pushed all the tables and work surfaces out of the way to make room.  When working large, you need space to be able to step back and see your work but I was hampered by the size of my studio.  I still have a desire to enlarge the space, but that will have to wait.

9 feet long... barely fits!

9 feet long… barely fits!

The other challenge was working with house paint.  I used to be such an artistic snob.  In college I had even learned how to grind my own paint, so quality ingredients was embedded in my idea of who I was an artist.  But I was a few years out of school at the time, and well past my art teaching days.  I’d learned to “make do” and freed my mind from snobbery to the possibilities of alternate mediums.

While Benjamin Moore isn’t paying me for this endorsement (though in the past they actually have)  I’ve gotta say that Aura is excellent paint.  Very high quality, gorgeous color and great coverage.  I mixed my own to create my palette, and used extra pigments not generally available to the public.  You can ask your paint store to sell you tinting agents, they are designed to be used with house paint, so while you can mix your own colors, don’t use them in other brands or types of paint.  Warning: tints are super strong.  Think of them like bouillon cubes… a little goes a long way.

Anyway, the challenge of the paint was how fast it dried.  Aura products are designed to dry fast so painters can get in and get the job done.  I’m predominantly an oil painter so anything that dries in less than a week is hard for me.  This stuff was dry in minutes so I had to work fast.  When you work fast, brush strokes become very fluid… there’s no time to coax your colors into being.  No sweet talk here.  Wham bam…. well, you know the rest.

The result was energetic and electrifying.  And one of the best things I’ve ever done.

Seattle@Night

Seattle@Night

PS:  Thank goodness I had the foresight to paint on canvas.  The nightclub shut down a year later and the painting was moved to a martial arts/art gallery in Eugene.  Weird combination of venues, but it actually worked in that space!