The day to day musings of a mural artist as he goes about painting marvellous murals
anywhere that people will let him.
|Posted on September 19, 2017 at 9:45 AM||comments (5)|
I thought I’d just write a little blog about the last two weeks, during which I got to visit Deans Zoo! We had a job in Pembrokeshire painting a little girls bedroom, which is about a 2 hour drive from Borth, where Dean and his family now live. I drive a 26 year old Nissan Micra and I love her to pieces, but I didn’t really fancy making the 6 hour drive to Wales on my own, so as Dean had been visiting Kent that weekend we decided that I would travel back with him and stay at the zoo for a few days before we both made our way down to Pembrokeshire to paint.
The journey was surprisingly traffic free and the views were stunning as we heading further into Wales. I’s never seen so many forests, rivers, hills and valleys and was awed by the fact that people have all of this literally backing onto their gardens! At one point we drove up and over a gigantic hill, through heathland with sheep just casually walking across the road and eating grass at the roadside. It was very surreal for someone who lives on a main road in Sittingbourne.
We got to the zoo around 6pm and Deans little girls were excited to give me a tour of the zoo straight away. They have a great range of animals, including lemurs, marmosets, goats, wallabies, ostriches, meerkats, raccoon dogs, huge snakes, rats, bats, bunnies, lions and a leopard. My favourites though were the two huge Bengal Owls that they have. They’re so beautiful and majestic. You could get pretty close to all of the animals which was a new experience for me.
The accommodation for my stay was in the static caravan that Dean and his family lived in for a few months before they were able to move into the zookeeper’s house. It’s next to the lion enclosure, and I was awoken at 6am by the lions calling back and forth to each other – again, very surreal!
I spent the next day sanding down and painting some new fencing that had been built around one of the enclosures. This is slow work and by about 4pm I’d managed to paint about half. Dean wanted to repaint the kitchen area in the café and as the zoo is open 7 days a week, this had to be done in the evening so it would be ready for use again the next day. We started by removing everything from the kitchen and then cleaning the walls and surfaces. We then sanded down all of the walls and shelves and once everything was prepped we could start painting. Although it was only a small room, it still needed 3 coats of paint and the wood work needed to be painted in gloss, so we were working until about 9pm to make sure it was all finished and could dry overnight, ready to have everything put back in it in the morning.
The next day I resumed the painting of the fence, but due to rain I had to stop. There’s a small soft play indoor area for children and the paint work was flaking and looking a bit shabby, so Dean wanted to freshen this up and make it a little more inviting for the public. All the old paint had to be scrapped off and sanded down and all staples, blue tack, drawing pins and posters had to be removed. I managed to get most of the prep work done (and mess hovered away) and then Dean suggested going to the cinema in Borth high-street for the evening. It’s in a converted church with a restaurant above, with one very luxurious screen room equipped with super comfy chairs and even sofas and arms chairs at the sides of the room.
We were off to Pembrokeshire the next day, so had put all the paint and equipment in the van before we went out to the cinema. We set off early, as we had to pop into Aberystwyth to get some dust sheets before being on our way. We had a bit of trouble finding the house that we were supposed to be painting in, but eventually found it with a few phone calls to the owner. The house was in the process of being completely renovated with an equestrian centre being built on the land surrounding it. This unfortunately meant no lights were fitted in any of the rooms, there was no heating and no working toilet… but at least it had four walls and a roof, which is more than some projects we have worked on in the past!
The client wanted a Welsh landscape theme for her daughter’s bedroom, featuring lots of farm animals and some of their pets. We started by painting the ceiling a pretty sky blue, fading down the walls into lighter shades and then eventually white. I then painted some fluffy white clouds on the ceiling and walls whilst dean working out the horizon and surrounding landscape. It took us about 2 days to finish the background and then we started painting things in the foreground, such as a large blossom tree and some of the bigger animals. Once the main animals were painted, we could add in some little details, such as sheep and pigs in the distant fields and butterflies and insects (and even a little pterodactyl in the distance, as per the client’s husband’s request!). We even added a few little fairies into one of the built in cupboards as a little extra surprise. The whole room took us 4 long (10 – 12 hours of painting per day) days to paint and the client and her daughter were thrilled with the end result.
As I was getting the train home (a 7 hour journey) and we didn’t pack up until about 6pm, I decided to head back with Dean to the zoo for one final night before making my way back to Kent in the morning. We got back to Borth just in time to see the second of three special features about Dean and Tracy buying the zoo on The One Show. If you haven’t seen them you can check them out on iplayer. They’re really interesting and show some of the challenges Dean and his family have had to face during their big move, as well as showing you some of the awesome animals they have.
The next morning, I finished painting off the fence I had started the week before so it was ready for the zoo inspection that they were having in a few days and then Dean gave me a lift to the train station. The train journey between Aberystwyth and Birmingham has some great views, and I spent most of that leg looking out of the window admiring the views and listening to the Harry Potter audiobooks. The journey was mostly uneventful, until I got to London and one of the ticket people pointed out that my ticket was in fact dated for the next day. They weren’t the most helpful, but after a little while I was able to convince them that I wasn’t trying to swindle them and they let me get on the final train home (I think the fact that I almost burst into tears helped sway them… apparently being away from home for 9 days makes me a little emotional!).
The rest of the week was spent visiting potential clients and putting together designs. I also had to pop back to Kent College to touch up a few parts of the murals I did for them a couple of weeks ago, as the builders had been a little heavy handed.
Next week we are painting the side of a house in Faversham for a couple who are celebrating their wedding anniversary and wanted to get each other something a little different, so check the facebook page for updates if you’re interested to see our progress!
Thanks for reading,
|Posted on August 29, 2017 at 9:55 AM||comments (1)|
August has been a busy month here at Marvellous Murals. At the beginning of the month, Dean came back from Wales for a few days to help me paint the outside of the Fountain of Ale, a pub by Sittingbourne Station that has recently changed ownership so was having a bit of a makeover. I designed the logo for them a few months ago when the client first got in contact. Once the pubs exterior had been repainted and we had some space in our schedule, we were able to start the mural. Dean painted the logo whilst I painted the sign writing for the name of the pub. This was drawn out using a cartoon (I projected the lettering onto large piece of card and then punctured holes into the corners of each letter. I positioned the templates in the centre of the space and made marks through each of the holes. Once the template was removed I could join up all of the dots and using masking tape to paint the straight lines, paint in the characters) which is a good way to paint lettering when you aren’t able to project onto the wall and when a stencil would not be precise enough. Dean used the grid method to draw out the logo and then painted it all freehand. He did this on very high scaffolding, and I was very happy that I only had to go up there once to remove some chalk lines for the grid, as coming down was not an easy feat (I’m still very scared of heights, apparently) but after a lot of deliberation and coaxing I managed to stop shaking long enough to get back on solid ground!
On the 30th of July I was joined by my sister, Sophie, at the Westgate Arts and Crafts event in Canterbury, where we were asked to do some chalk art around the event. We started by chalking a large version of the Westgate Arts logo by the entrance to the park. We then spent the rest of the day creating many colourful floral pieces of chalk art (including some huge daisies) dotted around the park as well as spending a few hours in the afternoon doing a children’s colouring event at the Kid’s Cove, where we drew lots of outlines of wildlife and nature related things for the children to colour in. This was a great success and we got lots of very interesting requests from the children (my favourite being a space rocket and Saturn… not quite wildlife, but still nature themed!). The whole day was a lot of fun and the weather was perfect, so hopefully they will hold it again next year. I also got some of the best maple and walnut fudge I have ever tasted from one of the stalls, so that was a bonus!
Once Dean had returned to Wales I had another job at the Fireball Pizza Company in Bromley, who we have done lots of work for in the past. They’re going through a gradual refurbishment at the moment, as they want their restaurant to be themed with the weird and the wonderful to be an experience for its diners as well as serving excellent food with lovely staff. This time they wanted the large back wall of the restaurant to have a constellation theme. They painted the whole wall black, so I could start straight away with painting. First I painted thousands of starts over the whole wall. I then (using another cartoon) painted the words ‘Welcome to the Fireball Observatory’ in a twilight zone themed font that I designed. I then painted seven of the owner’s favourite constellations, with the animal or character of each constellation in blue and the name of the constellation next to it in the same font. Normally I would project something this size, but due to the large skylight directly above the wall I wasn’t able to do this. Instead I made some rough templates for a few of the constellation and the others I drew free hand. The end result looked really cool and added to their new overall theme and it was really fun to get to paint something that was based on some of my favourite things – astronomy and mythology!
For the past two weeks I have been working at Kent College in Canterbury, painting in their newly refurbished boys and girls bathrooms. I have been working alongside an interior designer – Lisa Honiball from Honiball Interior Design – which has been a new experience for me. The toilets were supposed to be completed fitted by the time I was due to paint, but unfortunately due to timing restraints and other setbacks, they were only just starting when I arrived. This has been doable, but not ideal, as I’ve been working around plumbers, electricians and builders, making it a slower process than normal. Everyone has been really flexible which has made everything go a little smoother and by working for a little longer once everyone else has gone home for the day and at the weekends, I only have a little bit left to paint in the girls bathroom, ready for the pupils return to school next week. In a way it was good for me that the toilets etc hadn’t been fitted, as it meant I could get up close to the walls! There have been a lot of challenges with this job, such as painting a huge blossom tree on my own and a large orange stripe that circles a room across the ceiling and down both walls (this one stumped me for quite some time!), but with help from the maintenance workers allowing me to borrow their ladders (and keys to lock up after myself!) and the electricians for showing me how to use their laser spirit level, I’ve managed to overcome pretty much all of the obstacles that got thrown at me. I will be finishing the murals in both rooms with a heavy duty glaze to allow for more thorough cleaning, without the fear of rubbing the murals off of the walls!
Next week we’re in Wales (nope, not at Deans Zoo!) painting a little girls bedroom for a client who we have worked with in the past.
I hope everyone is enjoying the last dregs of the Summer, though as much as I love the sunshine and light evenings, it’s getting to that point in the year when I am secretly looking forward to Autumn – fallen leaves, pumpkin spiced everything, Halloween, scarfs and big coats! My favourites. I’ll also enjoy not applying factor 50 every time I step out the door. Though painting exterior murals does get a little less pleasant the closer we get to Winter!
Until next time,
|Posted on July 25, 2017 at 7:05 PM||comments (0)|
This month has been another busy one! At the end of June, Dean and I were back in Ipswich to paint another blossom tree in the home that my sister and I previously painted a large blossom tree that spanned two floors. The client felt as if the wall opposite the one we previously painted, now looked a little bare, so asked us to paint a smaller blossom tree tie in with their other mural. This smaller tree was completed in two days and helped to make the whole space seem more in keeping with the theme, rather than just having a large feature wall. The client wanted all walls to have something painted on them, even if it was just some fly away blossom or a little bird. This made the mural seem a lot more immersive, even though it was actually very subtle and used a limited colour palette.
The client also wanted a Lego heroes and villains room painted for his five year old son. Dean roughly drew out the background and the characters but then had to head back to wales on zoo business. This was a good start though, and I spent the rest of the week painting in the background (sooo many straight lines!). I was hoping to make a start on the characters by the Friday, as the little boy was very upset that he didn’t have a Batman yet! But the background took a lot longer than I had anticipated, so by 7pm Friday evening I was only just finishing. I made the drive back to Kent, then after a weekend of Alice in Wonderland afternoon tea (there’s a new café in Herne Bay which I would definitely recommend!) and seeing my family, I headed back to Ipswich for another week to complete the room. Painting the characters is the most fun part, so I started off with Batman (obviously) as he was the largest character and I wanted to give the little boy a nice surprise for when he came home from school! I then moved around the room (spending probably a little too much time on each character, but because Lego and Batman are two of my favourite things I wanted everything to be perfect). After all the characters were painted there was a little bit of detail left to do on the background (outlines, some shadows and finishing off the Bat Symbol) and then after a week of long hours and stressing because I didn’t think I was going to get it done, the room was finally complete. The little boy and his parents were really happy with it and couldn’t wait to put on his new Lego Batman duvet covers (and for me and my big tins of paint to be out of his room!). They bought me a Lego Batgirl key ring to say thank you, which was so nice of them. They originally didn’t want to have Batgirl painted, but after finding out she was my favourite (well, joint favourite with Batman, but she is an awesome crime fighting girl with ginger hair… so how could I not like her?) they said they would like me to include her to remind them of me.
After Ipswich I had a week back at home where I caught up on emails and designs and painted this sign for Dean for the zoo.
Dean headed to the Coloured Earth Festival in Gloucester on the 15th and 16th of July where he had a great time chalking this brilliant anamorphic tiger.
We then had a job in Manchester, painting an exterior wall in the playground of St Richards Primary School. The wanted a woodland scene with lots of animals as the school was in a built up area on the outskirts of Manchester, so the children didn’t get to see much wildlife. Dean had all the masonry paint so he drove up from Wales (after a long weekend of chalking) and I got the train up from Kent (as I worry that my little Nissan Micra would not be able to handle a 6+ hour drive, though she would give it a good go!). The train journey was uneventful as you hope all train journeys would be and Dean met me at the station and we headed to the school. The wall was already primed and cleaned for us, so we could get straight to painting. We started by roughly marking the horizon and the sun and then I made a start painting in the sky and grass whilst Dean drew out the trees and foliage. Once the base colours were down I could start painting in the animals and Dean added details to the background and painted in the tree canopy. I painted lots of animals that the children had suggested we include, such as a badger, some rabbits, a fox, squirrels, birds, insects and much more. The weather was kind to us for most of the week, but on Thursday we had a little rain in the mo9rning which set us back a little, despite this though, we were still finished a day ahead of schedule as we had factored in a little more time in case we lost too much time to the weather (you never can be sure, even in July!).
This week we are painting the outside of The Fountain of Ale pub by Sittingbourne station, weather permitting of course!
This weekend I will be in Westgate with my sister for the Arts and Crafts fun day on the 30th of July at Westgate Gardens. There will be lots to see and do and Sophie and I will be chalking all over the park and will encourage people to join in! It starts at 10am and runs until 4pm.
In the next month I will be revisiting the Fireball Pizza Company in Bromley to work on an exciting new project and will also be painting some murals for Canterbury College, so don’t forget to check our Facebook page for updates and to see what Dean and I have been up to!
Thanks for reading,
|Posted on June 21, 2017 at 7:10 PM||comments (0)|
It’s been another couple of months of adjusting, whilst Dean has been finalising his move to Wales and I’ve been getting used to a lot of working alone (meaning I’ve made my way through an astonishing number of podcasts and audiobooks – perks of the job!) and learning how to have a more active role in the business.
Dean returned to Kent mid May to help me paint the large soft play area at Demelza House. They wanted lots of bright colours and a football theme, so we started by painting huge splashes and patches of bright colours, to completely cover the lower section of the wall (they are hopefully fitting a false ceiling in the future, so didn’t want us painting too high if it was going to be covered eventually). These needed a couple of coats of paint to stop them from being patchy and then once they were dry we could start blending the edges with spray paints. Once the background was complete, we used some stencils that I had made the week before to spray paint football shapes of various sizes randomly onto the wall. This made the space fun and vibrant with lots to look at. Once this was all completely dry I gave the whole mural two coats of clear glaze to help protect it for cleaning and from bumps and scratches. The mural took us two days to paint and once day to varnish. Everyone at Demelza house said what a difference the mural made to an otherwise dull room, in such a little amount of time.
Dean headed back to Wales and I went off to Ipswich for my first job away working on my own. I was to paint a Peppa Pig Themed room for a previous client (the lovely family that My sister and I painted a blossom tree for inspired by the film Paddington, in their entrance hall). As I had worked for the client before this made me feel a little more confident. After the three hour drive to Stowmarket, I chatted with the client to find out exactly what they wanted and went through some reference pictures and some layout ideas. Once this was all finalised I could begin to draw out the design, starting with working out where the hills and landscape were to go and then drawing the characters in situ. The room was recently painted a very pale pink, so we decided to keep this as the background colour and use it for the sky, rather than repainting in a pale blue. The clients daughter was very happy about this as pink is her favourite colour.
Once everything was drawn out I could begin to paint in the landscape. Once the hills were painted I could start to paint in details in the distance such as the trees and then work forward to start painting in the landscape details in the foreground. The last thing to paint was the characters, with Peppa and her family on one side of the room and a group of her friends on the opposite wall. I was working long days to make sure I got all of the mural completed in the week (and because being alone in a hotel room in the middle of nowhere isn’t exactly the most interesting of activities! There’s only so many episodes of Parks and Recreation that you can watch!). I added the finishing touches to the mural on Friday evening, and then started on the long journey back home.
The following week I was painting some murals for Deans daughter Robyn. She is expecting her second child in August, so wanted a pretty grey themed patchwork mural above where the baby’s cot will be. This only took me a day to paint and we used the same paint that had been used to decorate the furniture in the room, so it all matched.
Her little boy Alfie is mad about superheroes and dinosaurs, so in his room we decided to paint the incredible hulk smashing through the wall and then a T-rex Battling a swinging Spider-Man on the wall next to it. These murals took me five days to paint and there was a very happy little boy at the end of the week!
After this I had a job painting the ceiling for The Fireball Pizza Company in Bromley. We have painted some murals for them before (some gargoyles eating pizza and ice cream and a B-Movie style dinosaur under a sky of fireballs, both on boards that were mounted on the walls of the restaurant), but this time they wanted the ceiling to be painted with a night time sky, featuring lots of stars and some moody nigh time clouds. The owner had recently painted the ceiling a deep blue colour, so I was able to come in and start painting the stars and clouds straight away. Clients sometimes chose to paint the background colours beforehand, as this saves us time and helps to keep costs down. I started by roughly working out where the clouds were going to go and then I started painting in the thousands of starts to adorn the sky. This is done with a mixture of flicking watered down paint to create the smaller stars and then going back over and hand painting in hundreds of larger stars to give the illusion of distance to make the sky look more realistic. Once this was done, I started to paint the clouds, using a range of colours from black, to grey, to white to make the clouds look three dimensional and as if there is moonlight reflecting off of them. In the background of the Gargoyle paintings we had painted a full moon, so I painted the clouds as if the light shining off of them was radiating from this moon. We were going to add glow in the dark paint to the stars, but due to the dim lighting in the restaurant this didn’t really show up. Glow in the dark paint can look really magical when used on a night sky mural, but the room needs to ideally be completely dark to get the full effect. It took my three says to paint the stars and clouds and the client was really pleased with the finished look, so it made the neck and back pain from standing in weird positions up the ladder, all worth it! The restaurant has such interesting décor, it was a pleasure to help add to their overall theme. If you get the chance to visit at Halloween, I would highly recommend it, as they go all out with their decorations and this year I think with their newly painted sky, it will make it even more dramatic!
We have some school work coming up in the next month which Dean will be helping me with and also an exciting project involving Canterbury College as well as a Lego Batman room (!!!) and the outside of a pub.
As always, if you or someone you know is looking to have a mural painted, please get in touch, no matter how big or small the design! We can design murals to fit all budgets, with discounts for local work or repeat custom.
Until next time,
|Posted on May 4, 2017 at 9:35 AM||comments (0)|
Well, it has been an odd month or so here at Marvellous Murals. Dean made the move to Wales at the beginning of April with his family and it’s been a bit of a learning curve for me, still in Kent. I think Dean’s settling into the zoo life, though I imagine it’s been a bit of a shock! But I’ve no doubt that over the next few months they will get firmly into the swing of things.
A few years ago Dean painted a lovely colourful bee mural at Milton Creek Country Park. Unfortunately this recently suffered some fire damage, so after the affected panels were replaced I went to Milton Creek to repaint the new panels and to freshen up the rest of the mural (as it was painted onto wood it was never going to have the same longevity as the murals that we paint onto walls). I painted this whilst there was a fun day at the park, so there were lots of people enjoying the sunshine and I got many lovely comments from children who were very interested in what I was doing. I tried to make it as much like the original mural as I could and after a day it was all touched up and good as new.
Next we had a job up in Ipswich for a family who wanted a large blossom tree painted in their home, spanning both floors. They took inspiration from the tree in the film Paddington, but wanted it adjusted to fit in the space that they had and for the colours to reflect the spring time colours in their garden (rather than the deep red of the tree blossom in Paddington). My car radiator hose decided to blow up a few days before having to travel to Ipswich, and due to it being a bank holiday I was unable to get it fixed. Luckily my very talented little sister, Sophie, happened to have a week off between changing jobs and so kindly offered to drive and to help me paint the mural, meaning it would only take four day rather than the eight it would have taken me on my own. Sophie is an amazing digital artist and has contributed to the hugely popular Romantically Apocalyptic online comic, so I knew she’d have no problem helping me out. The family we worked for were extremely welcoming and happy to let us paint what we thought would look best. After a little planning out the design we began to start work, chalking out the outline of the enormous tree that covered two floors and almost three walls on each floor. Once we were happy with the rough shape of the tree, we mixed up a paint that was similar in colour to the wood used throughout the house and began to apply the undercoat. This took up most of the first day, but once this first coat was applied it gave the clients and ourselves a better idea of how the finished mural was going to look. On day two we applied a second coat to the trunk and branches and also started to extend some of the branches around the first floor hallway. I began to add texture to the tree whilst Sophie finished painting in the thinner branches. On day three I started to add the blossom (we started with a vibrant pink that imitated the blossom trees in the clients garden, then toned this down with two more shades of pink to give a natural looking variation of colour) and Sophie started to paint some pretty nightingale birds in the down stairs hallway. The client wanted some birds added to spread the design out across the other walls, so we chose to paint nightingales as they are often found in Suffolk and their soft brown colour fit in well with the brown and pink colour scheme. Once Sophie had finished painting the birds she helped me with painting the hundreds of individual blossom flowers. I think by the end of the third day our eyes and hands were a bit blossomed out, so after a big meal, a walk in the countryside and a good sleep in our Travelodge, we returned for the fourth and final day to finish painting the blossom and to touch up anything that needed it. The client was very happy with the finished mural and would like us to return again in the near future to paint another smaller tree going up their staircase and to add a few more birds and wildlife to really bring the countryside into their home! Sophie won’t be helping me next time as she recently started a new job as a Veterinary Nurse in training (artistic talent and brains!), but it was a great privilege to get to work alongside my sister for a week and to share the creation a piece of work that made our clients very happy .
Last week I painted a Jemimia Puddle Duck mural for two little twin girls for their bedroom in Sheerness. The room was painted a pretty pale pink which was perfect to paint the mural on top of, so I could get to work straight away. We decided to paint a whole scene from the Beatrix potter books rather than just the character, as this added a bit more colour to the room and made the mural more of an eye catching feature. It took me one day to draw this out and paint it. The little girls loved the finished mural and their mum was very happy too!
On the horizon we have a project for Demelza house and some school murals and private homes to paint. Dean, once settled into the zoo, will be back painting murals in Wales (and I’m sure their zoo will be covered in magical murals very soon!) and he will also be travelling back to Kent to help me and to other parts of the country, so if you would like something, please get in touch!
Until next time,
|Posted on April 10, 2017 at 11:20 AM||comments (0)|
It’s been a bit of an unsettled time here at Marvellous Murals, as Dean and his family are currently in the process of moving to Wales because they bought a zoo! Dean will be mostly located in Wales from this point, but will still be popping back to Kent from time to time.
In March we managed to finish off the garden underpass mural that we started last November in Wokingham. We had to put a hold on things just before Christmas as the weather was not on our side and the temperature dropped so much that we couldn’t apply the anti-graffiti varnish. We waited until Spring and once the weather had begun to improve, we headed back to Wokingham to check on the mural and to complete the last section, before coating with anti-graffiti varnish. Unfortunately, over the previous few months a lot of graffiti had been drawn over our work. This was initially quite disheartening (and the very sort of thing that can be washed straight off had we had the weather to apply the varnish) but it actually only took us about a day to undo the damage and repaint little bits here and there. Once this was done we could complete the last section of the mural and paint the handrail coming down the stairs. We then spent a few days applying two coats of anti-graffiti varnish to ensure that any future damage can be easily removed. It was a great relief to get this mural painted and varnished, as it had been a bit of a tricky job for us and it was so nice to see it complete and brightening up a dreary underpass.
Next we did some sign writing for Smokey Joes, a bar in Maidenhead that we have previously done some other work for, for their refurbishment. They wanted the bars name/logo painted on a large exterior wall on their rooftop. There was quite a lot of measuring and adjusting to initially draw the design onto the wall in chalk. With signwriting you have to make sure that the spacing between letters is equal, and that all lines are the same thickness etc or it throws off the whole font. Once we had the basic outline complete we could start masking taping some of the straight edges (which is a whole other feat in itself, let me tell you… Especially on a slightly windy day!) and then we began to paint on the wall in black masonry paint. Due to the fiddly-ness of lettering, this took us two days to complete, but it looked very effective and is a great use of otherwise unused space.
In the week before Deans move we painted some lettering at Riverside school in Rainham. We have done a lot of work for this school and they always make us feel very welcome. This time they wanted the school motto and values written in the school reception, around the top of the room and above the main entrance to the class rooms. Dean helped me to project and draw these out on the first day, but then he needed to do some packing, so it took me a further two days on my own to complete. Again, lettering is very time consuming as you have to ensure that you have a steady hand and that the letters are all straight and the same thickness! They also need about three coats of paint, especially if painted in a colour like burgundy as reds always tend to need a few more coats than the other colours. I quite like doing lettering though; I find it very satisfying to finish but also a little excruciating to paint!
The day before April Fools day, Dean and I created a piece of 3D chalk art on a large piece of paper for the Forum Shopping Centre in Sittingbourne. They wanted what looked like an archaeological dig that happened upon a Roman statue. To create works of art like this you have to draw the subject slightly elongated so that you can stand at a certain point and it will look 3D. We did this by projecting the roman stature face at an angle and then drawing the 3D hole free hand, by directing all lines towards the viewing point. Once this was finished it was placed in the middle of the shopping centre on the floor with hazard tape and barriers around it to set it up as an actual archaeological dig. It looked very effective and was shared over social media with lots of people taking their picture by it.
Deans last official day in Kent was on Monday the 3rd of April (I say official, but he’ll be back and forth), so last week I was doing a nice job on my own for a lady in Sittingbourne whose son was mad about American Muscle cars and she wanted me to paint a Dodge Charger in his bedroom as a surprise. It took me two days to paint, but her son was very pleased with the finished result (even if I was painting right up until half an hour before he walked through the door!).
We are currently taking bookings for the summer, so if you, or someone you know would like a mural, then please get in touch! Some murals will be painted by myself and Dean, though we will be working separately now to cover Kent and Wales and all places in-between! If you haven’t already, then please join our Facebook page to keep up to date with all our mural goings on and you can also find us on Pinterest!
I hope you all have a lovely Easter
Until next time,
|Posted on February 26, 2017 at 1:25 PM||comments (0)|
Hello, hello, hello and happy 2017!
I’m not sure I can really start with that as it’s almost March and we’ve all pretty much settled into the New Year now … but I’m going to. I am so excited for Spring – I’m in serious need of some sunshine and warm weather – The clocks going forward can’t come soon enough.
To start off our year we had some fun gargoyles to paint for a pizza Restaurant in Bromley. The owners love Halloween, so wanted something a little quirky to have in the restaurant all year round. We painted these gargoyles on MDF boards so they could be easily mounted in the restaurant. One Gargoyle is eating a slice of pizza and the other is licking an ice-cream. They took around three days to paint.
After the gargoyles we had a job in Hertfordshire at the Gordon Brown centre, an outdoor education centre, painting three murals in their dormitories. We only had one week to paint these three murals as this was the only time the centre was closed to the public, so we enlisted a little extra help and stayed on the premises to allow us to work longer days. We had the help of Derrick Throssel, a mural painter and decorator from Essex. Derrick and I made a start on the long dormitory corridor mural, whilst Dean began work on the two main murals in the boys and girls dormitories.
In the corridor we were painting large bold flowers and insects to brighten up the space. This building was to be knocked down in the future, so they didn’t want anything too detailed, just something to brighten it up in the meantime that wouldn’t take too long to complete. Although the shapes were all big and bold, the flat block colours tend to need many coats of paint, so it can be a little time consuming. We managed to get this corridor completed by Wednesday evening after doing some extra long days, so then Derrick and I could go and help Dean in the main building. The dormitory murals were a little more detailed and the client wanted them to show the range of outdoor activities that they offer, as well as some of the animals and features from around the centre. Dean had gotten quite far with both murals, so it was a case of helping with the smaller details, such as adding some animals to the murals and some texture to the trees. The Gordon Brown centre was really lovely to work with and made us feel very welcome. The staff were extremely warm and friendly and definitely made sure we were well fed during our stay! It was a lovely place to work and to wake up each morning – even if it was -1 most mornings!
Next we painted a rainforest themed bedroom for a little girl in Ebbsfleet who loves animals. She had gone through a book that she owned about the Rainforest and put in post-it notes and comments on all of the animals she would like us to try and fit into her mural (which was very sweet and very helpful!). We started by drawing out and planning where everything was to go (the walls were a nice clean white, perfect for drawing on and painting any colour) and then we could fill in large background areas with an undercoat of pale green. Once this was done, we added streaks of white to add depth and the illusion of trees in the distance, and then we could begin to work forward, making the colour deeper as we went to give that illusion of depth. Once most of the background had been painted, we could start painting in the animals. We painted a clouded leopard, caiman, piranha, a sloth and its baby and a boa-constrictor, to name but a few! To complete the mural we added some little details, such as various butterflies and insects, birds flying across the blue cloudy painted ceiling and pretty rainforest flowers. This room took us eight days to complete.
Next up we had a distressed Union Jack to paint in Smokey Joes, a cool bar in Maidenhead. They were having a complete refurbishment with lots of Victorian, steam punk and American influences and they wanted the distressed union jack to go on a feature wall in the club. This took us two days to complete. They also asked us back this week to distress three shutters for them to make them fit in with the new aesthetic. We achieved this look with a lot of spray paint and some strategic rubbing down with sandpaper, all in one day.
Deans youngest daughters primary school asked us to paint a mural in their library. They had just purhased a beautiful wooden story telling chair, so wanted something magical and imagination inspiring to painted behind the chair. We chose to paint an enchanted forest, complete with fairies and the Gruffalo hiding in the trees. On the opposite side of the room we painted a large tree with various story book characters in the leaves and on the branches. I think Deans daughters were quite excited to have their Daddy working at their school for the week! I caught that horrible cold that was going around, so after lots of coughing and spluttering on the Monday, I thought it was best to keep my germs to myself for a day and hibernate under a duvet in my flat. We managed to get these murals painted in one week (despite my absence) and the whole school was really thrilled with result.
For half term Dean and his family went to visit their zoo in Borth, leaving me to paint a gothic bedroom for a young girl in Maidstone. After discussing the design at length with Dean and planning how to tackle the first room I would be working on alone from the start, I got to the clients house on Monday morning to learn they had decided they wanted to go in a slightly different direction with their mural (from dungeon to graveyard). This is completely fine and does happen, but I would be lying if I said the change didn’t initially throw me! After a few panicked phone calls to Dean (and some facebook messages… and texts… poor Dean), I finally decided what I was doing and got on with painting the ceiling and background. There were a few more setbacks during the week, but it’s all a learning curve I guess! After a few sleepless nights the mural was starting to take shape. I painted the sky a deep midnight blue and painted the milkyway and thousands of stars across it. Dean had painted a woodland fairy themed mural for this client about eight years ago when his daughter was a little girl, but now she was approaching 13 she wanted something a little more grown up (and spooky!), so I had to rub down the walls with sandpaper and then apply a coat of grey emulsion to cover the previous mural and to give me a base for the new one. It felt a little sad covering up some of Deans previous work, but as lovely as fairies are they weren’t suitable for a tennager any longer. I drew in the horizon (as I wanted a spooky foggy effect, this was a lot lower than it would usually be as you wouldn’t be able to see very far into the distance) and then started adding texture and fogginess to the sky in random light and dark patches. Next I drew out the main features of the mural, faint buildings, gravestones and the huge dragon that would be crouching on a giant skull. I could then start adding in details, starting from the furthest away (tiny faint grave stones and lots of mist) and gradually working my way forward, making the objects increasingly darker in colour the closer they became. Right in the foreground I added some simple silhouettes of gravestones and crosses in solid black all around the lower section of the walls. This was the main component of the reference photograph that client asked for, I just added a little more background to add depth and to open out the room. When dean returned the following week, he added some large spooky tree silhouettes whilst I painted the dragon. The client asked for a Game of Thrones style dragon, so I made him a little scary but added some bright blue into his mouth and chest to add a little colour and to tie it in with the ceiling. The rest of the dragon was painted in monotone to keep it the same as the rest of the room. We then included some finishing touches such as bats in the sky, a raven and some glow in the dark paint on the ceiling and on certain parts of the mural to make them stand out. This really was a challenge for me as confidence is something I don’t only have trouble with at work, but in pretty much all aspects of my life! I think it was definitely a good experience, if extremely stressful at times, but once I could visualise what I was doing I really enjoyed painting the room and making something that I would have wanted a teenage goth! We’ve had some really great feedback from the work on social media, which has helped to boost my confidence a little. All the comments and shares really help to give our work a wider audience and we really appreciate everyones kind words and positivity.
Next week, weather permitting, we will be heading back to Wokingham to carry on with the large underpass mural we started at the end of last year. There has apparently been a little graffiti put on parts of the mural, but we can patch this up and then we will coat it with anti-graffiti varnish, meaning that if it happens again the graffiti can be easily cleaned off.
As I type this the sun is shining and storm Doris seems to have gone on her merry way. Spring is getting closer and those warm days without coats and scarfs are almost in reach!
Until next time,
|Posted on December 22, 2016 at 6:00 AM||comments (0)|
I haven’t written the blog since September, the months are just flying by and now Christmas is just around the corner! We’ve been keeping ourselves busy with lots of different murals, big and small.
In September we had the pleasure of being a part of a community art project at Nucleus Arts in Chatham, running workshops for the Young at Art over fifties art group to create a community mural. Over the course of two sessions we assisted the group with making stencils based around the subject of nature which were then spray painted onto a hand painted tree at the end of each branch. This was a very bright and colourful mural which really cheered up the space at Nucleus Arts and was a great way for each member of the group of make something personal to themselves which worked together to create a public piece of art, as well as getting some experience with stencil making, mural painting and working in the public domain.
Next up we had The Incredible Hulk and Spiderman to paint! Dean and I are both huge comic book fans, so we always enjoy painting anything DC or Marvel themed. It took us three days to paint the life sized characters in a very excited little boys room.
The parents asked us back a few weeks later to paint a Beauty and the Beast inspired mural in their little girls room. We painted a simple background of blue sky and a grassy hill, then painted the Disney castle on top of the hill with Belle in the Foreground and The Beast welcoming her. Whilst I painted Belle, Dean painted various other characters from the film around the room, including Chip and Lumiere, to add to the theme and make all of the walls tie in with the main feature wall. I really enjoy painting Disney Princesses, I think because I was such a fan of Disney when I was younger, it’s very nostalgic for me and I just really like painting pretty things or anything we could possibly add glitter to!
As part of the Paint the Town Festival in Medway at the end of September, we did a large piece of Chalk Art outside of Rochester Station. For this, we enlisted the help of some volunteers from the local art collage, who assisted us with drawing out and colouring a large optical illusion of a multi-coloured vortex disappearing into the pavement. We completed this in one day. Once we had finished, the public could stand on the artwork and interact with it, taking photos and using social media to share their photos and spread the word about the Festival.
After this we had two very interesting jobs come up for two members of the same family, in their respective homes. Both the mother and daughter wanted their living room ceilings painted, which is always a bold statement in a home. Originally they were both wanting the same design, but after some thought they decided to both go for something different. The first was a cherub inspired ceiling, with a blue cloudy sky and two sets of angelic cherubs in the centre of the ceiling, holding a garland of flowers that went around the main light fixture. We started by drawing out the cherubs and then we could paint in the blue sky and clouds. Whilst Dean focused on the clouds and the flower garland, I set to work on the cherubs. The colour pallet was very subtle with each cherub having rosy cheeks and golden hair and wings. We accented the cherubs and flowers with gold leaf, to make them stand out and have a classical, luxurious feel to them.
The next ceiling was Versace inspired, with ornate black and gold patterns in each corner and a centre piece of women’s faces and two lions either side of a chalice. The patterned corners were achieved by making one very large stencil which we used as a basis and then we re-painted all of the lines by hand to make them crisp and neat. The entire centre of the mural was painted gold (which took all of the gold spray paint available for purchase in Sittingbourne!) and the lions in the middle were achieved with gold toned acrylic paints. We had a few setbacks with the stencil (gravity was not our friend) but once we had finished, the mural was really effective and looked very grand.
Our next commission was to paint a beach scene in a lady’s bathroom, featuring her two young children walking along the sand. Deans back was really playing up, so I had to take the lead on this one which was a little daunting. I started by drawing out the landscape and then I projected the photograph on the two little boys to ensure that I got them the correct size. This took about three days to complete and the client was very happy with the outcome. Their bathroom was decorated in very neutral colours, so it worked really well having one wall with a pop of sea side colours as a focal point.
After this we were back to Furness Primary school in London to paint another stairwell for them. We painted their canteen and two of their other stairwells last year. They wanted the two new stairwells painted the same as the ones we had painted previously. The design was quite simple – a background colour of pale yellow, with swirling multi-coloured lines going down the entire length of the stairwell. The sheer size of the stairwells and the fact that the school half term is only a week, meant that we had to get in extra help and work over the weekend to ensure that the work was finished in time for the pupils return. We had three great helpers with us throughout the week - . Nazine and Louise Hanson and Tasha Collins, without whom we would not have been completed on time.
After this we had a nice little two day job, turning a young boys room into a WWE ring! He had a square room which was perfect for this idea. In each of the four corners we painted a post and then using a stencil that we made, added the WWE logo. We then connected the posts by painting ropes around the outside. This design, although simple, was really effective.
At the beginning of November, we started a very long (very cold) job in Wokingham, painting an underpass with a garden landscape mural. In April of this year we painted another underpass for Wokingham Council with a woodland theme, but this time they wanted something a little more colourful. We started painting at the beginning of November, and unfortunately had to spend a week preparing the walls (This involved a LOT of sanding, chiselling, hole filling and primer painting) as this had not been completed by the time we were supposed to be starting. At the start of the second week once this was all done, we gave the ceiling a nice fresh coat of white paint whilst Dean started sketching out the design. We had Sam helping us for the month, who is an incredible painter, in the hopes of getting it completed in a shorter amount of time. Once the design was roughly drawn we could start blocking in the back ground colours. We then painted the sky with a blue gradient and began work on the trees in the background, which we decided to paint a pale lilac and blocking in some bigger patches of grass and other bushes. We were quite happy with the progress we had made, but mother nature had other plans for us. Despite the underpass being mostly undercover (aside from a little at each end) we thought we would be safe from the rain and whatever other weather was thrown at us. Unfortunately, there was a lot of fog that evening/morning, and this caused the walls to become covered in a dripping layer of condensation. After a three hour drive to Wokingham, we got out of the van ready to carry on and our hearts sank as we realised everything we had painted the day before was now mostly on the floor in big puddles. The spent the rest of the day mopping it all up and drying off the walls with tissue, in an attempt to give ourselves a paintable surface once again. The next day the nature gods were with us, and the wall was dry and able to be painted on once more! For the next few weeks we continued to add in the background and then started painted the foreground and details, adding lots of colour as went. In the fifth and final week (we had a new job starting the week after) we hoped to get the final section finished and to add an anti graffiti varnish to the whole underpass. However, due to another condensation set back (another morning greeted with paint puddles) and the fact that the varnish can only be applied if the temperature is above 7 degrees (it hadn’t been past 4 degrees in the days leading up to this point, really not the most pleasant weather to be painting outside in!), we had to admit defeat. We will return in the Spring to finish the mural and touch up any areas that need it and to apply the anti-graffiti varnish.
This week we have been in Bearsted painting a trompe l’oeil garden scene in the orangery of a manor house. We started by drawing out an archway for the illusion to be seen through and once this was roughly painted Dean started to sketch out the main design. The client wanted Leeds Castle to be a prominent feature, so we based the design around this with gardens and trees in the foreground and some Kentish countryside in the background. We still have a week left on this mural, which will take us right up to Christmas Eve.
(Edit: we have now completed this mural, I've just taken ages to upload the blog!)
We already have some interesting projects booked up for the New Year, so keep checking the facebook page to see what we’re up to!
I hope you all have a wonderful, relaxing Christmas, full of food, drink and merriment!
See you in the New Year,
|Posted on August 30, 2016 at 10:40 AM||comments (0)|
It’s been a busy couple of months since I last wrote – I can’t believe it’s almost September! The year is just flying past.
After the Bowie Tribute we painted at the beginning of July, we went straight on to painting a bus stop in Queenborough. The bus stop was looking pretty tired, with flaking paint and vandalism, so we were asked to brighten it up and to make it relevant to the town and its surrounding history. Firstly we had to sand it down and clean away all the cobwebs (my least favourite) and then using two different shades of blue metal paint, we painted the top half of the bus stop a pale blue inside and out and the lower half a deeper blue, again, inside the bus stop and on its exterior. Once this had been given two coats Dean added some texture to the sky and sea with spray paint and I went to Milton Creek Park to prepare some wooden poles for painting at Art in the Park the following week. Next we made some stencils, a few for the waves and a large stencil for the fishing trawler. As this was so big it was quite flimsy, but with a lot of tape and strategic hand placement we were able to spray the design onto the bus stop. Including making the stencil this mural took us four days to complete.
Next we painted a trompe l’oeil garden scene onto a garage wall in Horsham. There were lots of bright colours in this which really brought the dull garden space alive. The weather was a little temperamental but we managed to get this mural completed in four days.
The Sheppey Promenade Arts Festival took place on the week beginning the 18th of July. There was a lot of miscommunication between various groups, meaning we started the mural and then got asked to stop until relevant permissions were in place and then we were able to start it up again a day or so later, but this meant that the design wasn’t quite as detailed as we were hoping, but at least we got it into a state of completion in time for the end of the festival. It is painted on the back of the leisure centre near Sheerness Sea front and celebrates the first powered flight in the UK by a British pilot, John Moore-Brabazon, May 1909, Shellness, The Isle of Sheppey. If you find yourself down by the sea side, why not go and take a look.
At the end of July we went off to Oxfordshire for nine days to paint a whole room mural for a little boy, based around the theme of Disney Cars at night time. We started off by deciding where all the main features of the room would be placed and how this would all work together and where the characters would be situated. Once this was sorted, we began to draw it out, roughly sketching out the background. I began by painting the ceiling and top section of the walls a deep blue. Once this had two coats we could start adding the stars! This is a mixture of flicking, splatting and hand painting thousand of stars which can be relatively time consuming, but the results always look very impressive. Once this was done, dean started painting the scenery and back ground, including a Japanese street at night, the town from Disneys Cars the movie all lit up with Neon signs and the Tow-Mater sign . I painted the desert floor which was a little tricky when it came to painting straight lines over the bumps in the wardrobe doors. Once this was done I started work on the characters. This room took us nine long days to complete but was so worth it to see the little boys face light up when he saw it finished and his room was cleared of dust sheets and paint cans!
Next up was a pretty mural for a little girls nursery of the iconic Disney Castle with a rainbow over head in a field of giant roses. Dean focused on the castle while I painted the roses and we got it completed in three days. I was really worried about the roses whilst I was painting them as I hadn’t ever painted flowers of such a large scale before. Lots of people had nice comments to say on the facebook post and that really helped boost my confidence.
Our friend Sioux Peto was organising a children’s festival at Murston Old church, so we went along to paint brightly coloured children’s character designs on some dull grey concrete bollards at the entrance. This really brightened up the space and a fun day was had by all who attended.
The most recent job we have completed was painting murals at Loxford Primary School in Ilford. They wanted foive murals painted before the children came back from their summer break. We had some help from the talented Nazine (who has chalked the Nightmare Before Christmas themed art work for the past two years at Chalk It Up! Sittingbourne Chalk Art Festival, with her two sisters – which they will be adding to in a couple of weeks time) to ensure that we got the work completed in time. Dean started on the Solar System mural and also drew out the We’re Going on a Bear Hunt mural whilst Nazine and I painted a children from around the world themed mural near the entrance to the school. This took us two days to complete, by which time the scissor lift (these murals were going up to 50ft so we needed a little assistance!) had turned up for Dean to make a start on the Jack and the Bean Stalk and BFG Murals. Meanwhile, Nazine and I painted the Solar System mural. This was fun as I love space and the planets and I also really enjoy hand painting stars, despite it being pretty monotonous! This took us about three days to paint. The Jack and the Bean stalk and BFG murals were pretty much left to Dean, whilst Nazine and I painted the We’re Going on a Bear Hunt Murals. This was actually five murals that depicted one image from different pages in the popular childrens book and went along one side of a long corridor, ending with a big painting of the bear in question! It took us two weeks to get all of the murals completed, which isn’t bad going for five murals, two of which are over 30ft.
This week we are doing a mural painting workshop with Young at Art at Nucleus Arts and then we are setting up for an Exhibition that Dean is a part of at the Pie Factory in Margate. If you get a chance, come down and see all of the awesome work that will be on show.
Not long now until Chalk It Up! Sittingbourne Chalk Art Festival 2016. You can still be involved if you would like to try your hand at chalking, just go to the link and sign up for your own bit of wall or floor space on the day with all materials provided. Or, if you would rather be an observer, the festival will be running from 10am-4pm On Saturday the 10th and Sunday the 11th of September, which lots of things to see and do! We hope to see you there.
Thanks for reading,
|Posted on July 5, 2016 at 6:45 AM||comments (0)|
Well, it’s been a busy couple of weeks! To begin with we finished off the ‘family tree’ that I mentioned at the end of the last blog. The owner was really happy with the results as the colours matched her decor perfectly and the quirky design and idea to hang family photos over the tree added a personal touch to their home.
Next we went to Blackfen School for Girls, where we helped a sixth form art class produce a community mural based around the idea of Growth Mind-Set. In the weeks leading up to the week of producing the actual mural, we had a couple of sessions and workshops with the pupils. We started by telling them a little about street art and about ourselves and how Marvellous Murals works as a company, explaining the idea of working to a brief for clients and also how to get funding and to pitch an idea. They then had to do some research of their own and give a talk to the heads of their school pitching the idea of a community mural in their school and how they would work to the brief set and the ways in which a mural would benefit the school. We then had a few more sessions with them working through their design ideas, suggesting how to make the most of their designs and what ideas to focus on. Each student had to come up with four concepts of a design based on growth mind-set (growth mindset by the way, in case you’re scratching your head just like I was, is the idea that people should believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This also encompasses ideas such as failure being essential for success). Once the students had developed their strongest ideas these were then put to a vote throughout the whole school and the community would chose the final image to be made into a stencil and sprayed onto the mural. The school also held a vote to decide on an inspirational line of text to go above the mural, furthering the growth mindset theme. After having Three or four lessons with the students, we then went into the school for a week to prep the wall, hold a stencil making workshop with each of the students, and finally help them with producing the background for their artwork and to spray the stencil. Whilst Dean worked with the students to cut out their final stencils, I rubbed down the wall and gave it an undercoat of white masonry paint. Some of the sixth formers came and helped me with this, just to get a feel for the entire process (though after about two minutes of painting white onto a lumpy wall, most of them gave up with exclamations of being bored... but you know, at least they tried!). I then sectioned the wall off with masking tape into twelve metre squared sections, one for each of the students. Once this was done, the students started to come down and work of the backgrounds for their squares. Some wanted single block colours, where as others wanted colour gradients and texture. This was mainly done with masonry paint, with some of the texture being achieved with spray paint. As their teacher wanted them to have a hands on experience, I was just there to oversee the work and check everything was being done safely, to help if required and to give advice. This was very strange for me and I felt extremely lazy just watching other people do the work! Once all the backgrounds were completed I touch up anything that needed it and then dean started to come down with the students and their finished stencils. Due to the size of the wall, only one square could really be worked on at a time otherwise people would just get in the way of others, so this was a relatively slow process, with some pupils having multiple stencils and colours, but everyone was really pleased with the end results. There were a lot of positive comments from passers by, which I thing encouraged the students and gave them confidence that they may have been previously lacking. It’s a scary thing putting something you have designed and produced into a public forum. I remember the first time I exhibited some of my work, you just feel so exposed and self critical, especially if the media is new to you, so the kind words of their peers would have really helped the students in this formative and perhaps first time experience. Once the main mural was completed, and we had added some finishing touches, Dean and I made stencil for the writing at the top and then sprayed/hand painted this onto the wall. All the students were really proud of themselves and each other and it was really lovely to be a part of their experience and to help them feel more confident about art and their own abilities. I think they got a lot out of the whole process, not just the practical final week but also the theory leading up to it.
Next we had a nice little job painting some decorative names in a playroom for a little girl and boy. Their parents wanted the names to be a piece of art, rather than just text on the wall, to add personality and fun to the room. For Noah, they wanted bright colours and strong shapes and for Imogen they wanted pretty but not too girly, something that would last them through to their teens. I painted Imogens name, whilst Dean Painted Noah. These took us two days to complete due to the amount of detail in each name. We also finished them both off with some pretty gold glitter.
Our next job was a big one. A huge one in fact. The size of a house. The gable end of a house in Whitstable to be exact. We were painting something for the Whitstable Biennale. A lovely lady called Katie had offered up the side of the house she rented as a possible location for a mural for the arts festival. The wall was in particularly bad shape, with a crumbly render that had been carved into by hundreds of youths with names, and words and pictures you might not choose to have on display by a children’s play park. We had gotten permission from the land lady and the council, so then the only thing to address was... how were we going to reach the top? And also, how were we going to get this done in a week? Well, the answer was with a hired boom lift, our trusty scaffold, some creative ladder usage, and some help from a brilliant artist called Rebecca who also lives in Sittingbourne. We started by rubbing down the wall to get any loose sand off of the surface, we then applied a stabilising solutions to help hold the wall and to prevent the mural from crumbling off over time. Once this was dry, we could undercoat with white masonry paint. However, at this point, we had not received the boom lift, so we could only paint up as far as the scaffolding would take up! The next night, Dean returned to project the image onto the wall and to paint a rough outline so we had something to work with. We decided to paint a mural of a little girl fishing for oysters, as Whitstable is famous for it's oysters. It would be called 'The Oystermans Daughter'. Next, it was just a case of undercoating big sections and getting a first coat of paint on the wall which we could then work detail into. The boom lift arrived on the Tuesday, so we could then stabilise and undercoat the top section of the wall and then draw the outline onto it to begin painting. I went up in the boom lift twice. I think I’ve mentioned before that I used to have quite a problem with heights (notably when I got frozen to the spot and burst into tears whilst on the viewing platform at the Eden project. Not a highlight of my life thus far...) But I think I’ve come pretty far. Well, I thought that until I went up in the lift, and my legs turned to jelly. It was really quite high and wobbly, and I could stand the sensation for about 10 minutes at a time, but I was thankful to be on solid ground after wards. Dean spent most of his time up in the lift and I’m not really sure how he did it without vomiting, but someone had to paint the very top of the wall! As he worked on the highest point, I painted the pebbles at the bottom, which was far more comfortable and better for my heart. Gradually over the next couple of days with Rebecca’s help, the mural started to come together and lots of people commented on how it had brightened up an area that sorely need it. Dean added the finishing touches and called it a day at 7pm on the Saturday, just before a huge storm rolled over the coast.
Next was a smaller scale job, painting a youth shelter in Halling. The shelter had seen better days and was rusty, dirty, worn down and covered in graffiti. We started by sweeping and brushing cobwebs and spiders and rubbish out of the shelter and then began rubbing down the whole surface, inside and out, with sand paper and wire brushes. I should have worn my mask, as for the next couple of days I had rust coloured stuff coming out of my nose. Which was a delight. Once this prep was all done, dean started work on the interior of the shelter, spray painting ‘Halling’ in big graffiti letters with a simple river back ground and I painted the outside of the shelter with black metal paint. We also painted the ceiling, floor and seating with a fresh coat of metal paint. On the Wednesday we held a stencil workshop with some kids from the youth club. They came along with ideas for stencils including things that Halling is known for, local wildlife and landscape and also their hobbies and interests. We then quickly drew up and cut these ideas as simple stencils, and the kids then had the opportunity to spray their design onto the inside of the shelter. This made the shelter something they could be proud of and have some ownership over as well as giving them a reason to prevent further unwanted graffiti and to look after the newly painted shelter. The next day we added some more to the inside of the shelter and also sprayed the outside with a leaf pattern to make it fit in more with the surrounding area and be less of an eye sore. We coated the entire shelter with anti graffiti varnish to protect it from further use and to ensure it looks well looked after for years to come. This project took us four days to complete.
On the Friday we had a nice little job in Essex, painting a fox next to an existing blossom tree mural that we did a few years ago, and painting an abstract colourful owl in the master bedroom. I painted the fox whilst dean focused on the owl. This took us a while to get right as the source image we had wasn’t that clear, but the client was happy with both murals after a little tweaking.
Next we painted a Mickey Mouse themed nursery in Maidstone. This was the entire room, including the ceiling. It was a little difficult due to there being wooden beams throughout the room, but we managed to work around this and still create a good sense of perspective. The ceiling had lots of little LED lights dotted all over it to look like stars. This was a really lovely idea, but not so lovely when you’re the person who has to individually paint around each one. Twice. Next we added the Mickey Park arch and the Club house, with all the main characters, and lots of pretty white flowers to finish it off. The whole room took us five days to complete with a little extra help from Adele.
And then... I had a week off! I scurried off the a cabin in the woods with my boyfriend for five days and it was wonderful. Living on a main road in Sittingbourne, I had sort of forgotten what silence was! But the moment we stepped onto the decking of the cabin and heard birdsong and the gentle rustle of leaves, I just didn’t want to leave. It did get a little creepy at night though, once all the wildlife had gone to sleep. That’s when I really understood the concept of silence! As many of my friends pointed out, the cabin did look like an excellent place for a horror movie, but thankfully we didn’t get murdered or harassed by demonic forces. Though on the first night there was a creepy person stumbling through the forest at 2am with a torch who decided to just stop by our cabin and turn off their light. We swiftly went inside and locked all the doors! After five days of reading, eating, walking, hot tubing and film watching, it was sadly back to reality.
But it’s not all bad, as the day after our return it was off to Bromley to paint a huge David Bowie tribute for the Intu Bromley Shopping centre fun weekend. David Bowie moved to Bromley in 1953 so he is a local legend and inspiration. We decided to paint three portraits of Bowie, one from the 70’s (aladdinsane), one from the 80’s (Jareth the Goblin King from the Labyrinth) and a more recent portrait. Dean had made huge stencils of each one so we had an rough guideline. We roughly sprayed these on and then we could begin painting in the starry back ground. I gave this four coats of deep blue paint whilst Dean undercoated the portraits. We then added some texture to the background and lots of stars. The next day Dean work on 70’s and recent Bowie and I got to work on Labyrinth Bowie. The Labyrinth was my favourite film as a child, I watched it over and over until the VHS wore out (and then as an adult, I bought it on DVD... twice. One regular and one special edition. I also have countless labyrinth art prints, books, clothing... and a Ludo stuffed toy. I kind of like it.) When David Bowie passed away, Labyrinth was the film I watched that night. It was a tough week for bad news, both in the media and personally, but then, it’s been a pretty horrible year for bad news in general I think! I was a huge Bowie fan, not just his movie appearances, but his music was extremely influential and just the way he was was such an inspiration to myself and so many others. To not be afraid of who you are and to let creativeness flow through you in any way that feels natural. So for all of these reasons, it was a great honour to paint this portrait, but also, a great pressure. I wanted it to be perfect, but also, I had never painted a portrait on such a great scale before and of something I cared about so deeply. I finally finished it, but was still unhappy with how it looked, but many passers by said some very encouraging comments which brightened my mood. Deans portraits looked fantastic and we finished the mural off with some text. The mural had such a great reception, within the shopping centre and on social media, which I think is proof of just how loved David Bowie was and how missed he will be.
Well... that was a long old blog, wasn’t it?! If you’ve made it this far... well, thank you for sticking with my ramblings! We have lots of projects lined up for the coming weeks and the Chalk It Up Sittingbourne Chalk Art Festival is pending, so keep a lookout for news involving that and other events that we will be appearing at. Until next time, I hope you all have a lovely start to your summer.