Yee-haw! Old Bessie is back and zippier than ever. I'm talkin' about my computer, not the neighbor gal. And yes, my cowtown roots are showing. (So are my gray ones, for that matter, but it's summer, so I can pretend they are silver-blonde highlights on my granola-girl head.) Anyway, I'm back and blogging, and it's not as if I wasn't doing at least a little writing...
|Eileen chose a quote by Thoreau, to personalize her new home with a meaningful message for grandkids and guests.|
Eileen is the great aunt of the two lucky little girls with the fawn mural, shown a few weeks back on this blog. When I went to tweak the details on that, I popped over to see her new place, and discuss putting something personal on the living room wall. She wanted mural scale, but featuring a quote, with some sort of art.
|Step 1: Chalk in what you think you are going to paint, where you think you are going to paint it.|
After sketching up a few ideas, the only way to know how it really works on the wall is to put it on the wall, so it starts with chalk. Then it gets erased and repositioned. Hopefully just once. Cheap chalk, should anyone want to know, erases better than name-brand stuff, which seems to have a bit of oil in it.
|Step two: Letter in a contemporary version of the Spencerian handwriting that was fashionable in Thoreau's time.|
The original plan was to copy Thoreau's handwriting (Oh look, a giant forgery!), and embellish it with a semi-formal arrangement of plants, with a mocking bird in the mix. After discovering that Thoreau was infamous for his terrible handwriting (along with bad grammar and spelling, writers take heart), we settled for Spencerian script, which was the fashionable lettering of the day. Eileen was worried about it looking too formal for a Thoreau quote, and being too difficult to read, with all it's usual flourishes, so I used a more contemporary sign writer's Spencerian.
|Step 3: Re-chalk the artwork, after client has had a couple of days to realize she really can have anything she asks for.|
For the border art, we started with photos of East Coast and Southern gardens, looking for plant material to create a swag around the lettering. Eileen is an American history buff, and loves spending time visiting the places where our nation was founded. While I worked, she surfed for photos, and read me tidbits of historical fact from various websites (most of which she knew, but I learned lots). If she had followed this blog for long, and remembered everything I've written, she would have known that after chocolate, being read aloud to is one of my favorite things... story time and art, just like fourth grade. Blissful sigh.
followed long enough to know that she could revise her ideas as we went, so I wasn't totally surprised to arrive on day two to a change of plans. Even though Thoreau probably never saw them, could I paint Spanish moss and oak trees instead? There weren't any in the books I had brought along, but if she could do the research, yes, I could paint them.
|Step 4: Rough in the artwork in light glaze versions of the final colors.|
Once I know what to paint, it's a matter of glazing in the artwork lightly, then gradually building up layers of color and detail until it matches the client's vision.
|Step 5: Adding details depends on knowing what they should be. Spanish moss, Virginia live oak, and the epiphytic ferns that accompany them are not exactly native to my stomping grounds, so research was in order...love google images!|
Even when I simplify details to fit time, budget and design, I still have to know what the distinctive features are. Spanish moss grows in a certain way, live oak branches bend in certain ways, and their leaves group in certain ways (and they aren't as shapely as our oak leaves, here), and whada-ya-know, there are epiphytic ferns growing with the moss, which isn't a true moss. One learns all kinds of things researching murals, including great Scrabble words, like epiphytic! (air growers, like orchids). Wonder how many years before I draw those letters in a rack?
|Thoreau probably never saw this flora, but he must have known a mocking bird or two. |
The final touch was the mocking bird, and I have to say that the only bad thing about the whole job was that the lyrics to a certain Carly Simon song got stuck running through my head. "Whoa-oh-oh-yeah-yeah." Stuck in your head now? You're welcome. (Sorry, my week off of blogging has given me plenty of time to rest up and regain my brattiness) You can sing it while mowing your yard and enjoying the fruits of the season. Happy Summer!
Got something to say on your walls? Click on over to my website for other lettering ideas, and all the info on how to hire me. theartofthehome.com
Wanna do the graffiti yourself? If you have questions that the quick explanation above didn't cover, feel free to email me. firstname.lastname@example.org
(and hey you scammers, you can quit notifying me that I have won the British lottery. If I didn't fall for it the first time, do ya really think I'm going to believe I won it fourteen times this week? Seriously, you're just filling the spam trap, so give it up.)