Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Painting the Mural: Dragon Gate: Week 2

I continued painting the Dragon Gate during week 2.

Mon., Aug. 22: I began painting the large fields of color. Dark green for the head and the mountainscape (South Hills and Mount Helena). Pale green for the body and mane. Yellow-orange for the whiskers, claws, eyebrows, spine, and tail tuft on the dragon, and the Pearl of Wisdom/Sun. A longer day than usual, but felt good about getting the dragon's primary colors on. 5 hours.

Tues., Aug. 23: Used a sort of gray-purple-black to outline the head, eyes, teeth/mouth, talons, and the rest of the dragon. Really makes it "pop out" at last. Added another coat of reddish-brown to fill in some spaces and thin areas. 4 hours.

Now comes a critical point in painting, as in all paintings. Deciding when it is done. Not doing enough means it looks unfinished to viewers...and is incompletely realized and unsatisfactory to the artist. BUT...You can also go too far and add too much and ruin a painting that way too. So the next day or two, and I have to be careful. I know I want to add to the clouds (cream gold with pink scrolling), and also add scales on the dragon. The scales are tricky, with so many to do, and they need to look uniform.

Wed., Aug. 24: Today, the scales. Trying to paint so many uniformly-sized things has a lot of potential for things to go wrong. So I cut a guide out of an old plastic lid. It worked pretty well, although it was slow and took a long time. I added some green lines along the back and limbs which popped it out further. I added a creamy yellow-white over parts of the cool white areas which warmed up the clouds and picked out the teeth and eyes. 5 hours.

Thurs., Aug. 25: Finished the pearl/sun, talons/wrinkles, clouds, touch-up various places (drips, streaks). Picked up varnish from paint store. 4 hours.

Fri., Aug. 26: Signed and dated the mural. Final Clearcoat Sealant; applied two coats, with 2 hours drying time in between them. 5 hours, with 3 of those actual working hours, and 2 drying hours.

FINISHED with the Dragon Gate, mural #1 of the series! Next will be the Chinese Memory Wall, to be started next week.

Painting the Mural: Dragon Gate: Week 1

I started on the mural a little over a week ago. This is the progress so far.

Fri., Aug. 12: Powerwashed the three gates (I keep wanting to say "arches" but they are not arches, just a series of gated supports along a walkway). Allowed to dry fully over the weekend. The site attracts a lot of grafitti, which will be an ongoing issue I suspect. 1 hour.

Mon., Aug. 15: Got supplies from Columbia, along with arranging for barriers and tape, etc. Had to go with supervisor as she has to sign off on every order personally (city process). 1 hour. Scaffold brought on site by city.

Tues., Aug. 16: Applied Loxon conditioner today as a sealer and primer using a roller on the surfaces to be painted, front and back of first gate. It is a clear coating, which means you can paint right over it. Certain colors will cover it satisfactorily, like white and the reddish background. For brighter colors I will need to apply white primer in those areas first. Ordered some more paint and do some further design tinkering at home this afternoon. There is a difference between paper/digital stuff and the REAL physical environment :-) 2 hours.

Wed., Aug. 17: Blocked in most of background, a reddish color like red clay. Some white applied in areas of clouds and part of dragon. 4 hours.

Thurs., Aug. 18: Draw dragon, all freehand directly in paint (magenta). I had to change the pose a little from the original design because of the discontinuity in the concrete wall at the top which would distort it otherwise. I had originally thought of gridding it, but I like the freshness and vitality of a freehand line. Got the dragon, pearl (used 5-gallon lid as template), mountains, clouds (with swirls) drawn in now on the dragon gate. 5 hours.

Fri., Aug. 19: Some minor vandalism wiped off and I repainted over it. Whited-in areas of dragon and pearl, in preparation for next week's color application. It looks pretty good so far! This is all taking longer than I thought. 4 hours.

(Thanks to Carol Montgomery of the Helena Public Art Committee for the photos!)

Next week: More colors