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Painting a mural for ARTPRIZE 2012

Brenda Sipe and I decided to team up for ARTPRIZE 2012 and collaborate on a mural. Our concept evolved over the course of the creative process but we started with the idea of what it must feel like to be a bird. SOARING became a landscape seen from the sky with recognizable elements from the West Michigan area. The style was realism mixed with expressionism and we decided to work together across the entire mural painting and repainting as we discussed the outcome.

 Pastel concept sketches of birds and landscape

 We worked hard at finding the best venue in the city center area. Since Brenda had exhibited at the Amway in the past they were interested and suggested we put a mural on the outside of the building. This had never been done before and we jumped at the chance. The only catch was they wanted us to attach our mural without drilling into the building. No screws or nails could penetrate the building surface and we were required to leave it exactly as we found it.

Cost was an issue now since we were not going to be painting our mural directly onto the surface. We had to purchase materials to paint on and the structure to hold our mural in place. We also decided to attach lighting overhead since there wasn't adequate lighting at night. This was no small feat since the mural ended up being almost 12 feet high and 37 feet wide. Kickstarter looked like the best option to help us raise funds. Our Kickstarter page shows what we did and how it worked. If you go there click on the "updates" tab to see photos and progress reports.

Brenda connected with a great place to use as our temporary studio. It was an empty store in a strip mall. The only requirement was leaving the building the same as we found it and paying about $300 for utilities. We spent as much time there as possible and worked at all hours for two months.  We put posters in the windows and let passersby stop in and check on our progress. Terry and Wenday Brennan also shared our space for a few weeks. They came all the way from South Carolina to participate in ARTPRIZE.

We came up with a plan to make our mural look like a floating series of panels. Six large columns were used as the base of the structure from the ground up to a 13 foot overhang. The columns were square and telescoped out to create tension which held them in place. We then attached another dimensioned structure made of 2 x 4s. This structure created the dimensions needed for the mural panels. The mural was painted on 16 different panels and there were about 4 different levels of dimension when completed.

The first brush strokes by Brenda

I worked no the hand holding the nest.

Brenda and I seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

Snowy Egrets fly over the river.

Close to finished and still have paint left. We went through many bottles and tubes and jars of acrylic.

SOARING on display at ARTPRIZE 2012

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