The day to day musings of a mural artist as he goes about painting marvellous murals
anywhere that people will let him.
|Posted on April 10, 2017 at 11:20 AM||comments (1)|
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 (2)|
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.
|Posted on May 10, 2016 at 7:30 PM||comments (0)|
Last week we finished the Wokingham underpass Mural. It took us around three weeks to complete and for two of the days we had help from Sam which really sped up the preliminary painting. Once we had finished the back ground we started to paint lots of wildlife into the mural. This included a deer, rabbits, a hedgehog, a badger, some squirrels, two owls, lots of birds and some butterflies. The underpass has many people walk through it each day, especially on the morning and afternoon school runs, so lots of children were excited to see what new additions there would be at the end of each day and what new creature they could spot. Whilst painting this mural we had such lovely feedback from the locals, saying how it had brightened up the area and made it seem like a less threatening and children friendly space. We finished off the mural by applying two coats of anti-graffiti varnish, which means that if it does get spray painted or marker penned on, it will just wash off. We even got featured in some local newspapers and news websites!
This week we have painted a pretty white blossom tree in a nursery for a new born baby girl and a decorative ‘M’ above the cot. This tree will have shelving put up the ‘trunk’ to really make it a focus of the room. The pale grey background colour works really well with the white branches and pale pink rose shaped blossoms, making the room pretty and contemporary.
We have also started another tree mural for a lady in Rainham. This time it’s a family tree on one of the walls leading up the stairs, but a little more modern that the usual family tree. This time we are painting an elegant grey tree with white and silver accents and many branches and leaves. The owner will then place family photos all over this wall to make it a really interesting and fun feature and a lovely way to remember loved ones and celebrate family. I will add a photo of this to the website once it’s completed.
We’re starting to get really booked up now for the Summer! So expect to see a lot of exciting projects posted on here in the near future.
|Posted on April 15, 2016 at 11:55 AM||comments (0)|
Since last writing the blog we’ve had a busy couple of months putting murals in a variety of places for a variety of people! Easter has been and gone, Spring is firmly on it’s way (I’ve seen the sun at LEAST two times now), the clocks have gone forward, Batman vs Superman Finally came out (and wasn’t as bad as everyone’s been saying, Batfleck, in my opinion, did a pretty decent job!) oh, and I have finally reached the ripe old age of thirty. I'm not sure how this happened, it kind of sneaked up on me, but I was throughly spoilt and I felt very lucky and loved to have such wonderful friends and family to share it with.
At the beginning of March we painted some fruit and veg around the canteen serving hatch at Wentworth Primary in Dartford. We tend to do a lot around this theme in school canteens at the moment. It’s a great way to make the dining hall brighter and more inviting as well as promoting lots of delicious and healthy fruit and vegetables. The pupils always really enjoy watching us work and seeing the murals progression each lunch time. School work is some of my favourite as the pupils always have some kind and positive things to say about our work and they really do get a lot from seeing working artists within their school.
After Wentworth we went to a private home in Gillingham to paint some Minions bursting out of the wall behind a large TV in a children’s playroom. We hadn’t painted minions before (which is pretty surprising considering just how popular they are!) so both Dean and I were looking forward to it. We started but drawing out where the TV would be going, we could then mark out the brock work and the hole in the wall and then draw the characters. We painted the three minions from the Minion movie, as well as a purple minion and the ambulance minion (who was the little girls favourite). I also added some bananas for good measure. Dean started painting in the brickwork and I made a start on the minions. We had this all finished in about three days.
Back in December we painted a snowy winter scene on the side of The Sweet Barrow in Sittingbourne high street to try and brighten up the town and bring a bit of festive cheer. As we are now (hopefully) on our way towards the summer, we thought it best to paint over this mural with something a little more permanent. The owner of the building said he would like something that was reflective of what the building had originally been – Tomsett Fish mongers. Dean came up with an interesting design that involved a large fish, a fishing boat and a play with perspective. For the first couple of days I helped Dean by blocking in the main colours and we drew out the design. After this point, Dean knew how he wanted to paint the mural so rather than getting in his way/standing around a lot, I went and painted a carnival Float for the Sittingbourne carnival, whilst he finished the fish monger mural.
We painted the carnival float a couple of years ago with a teddy bear ice skating theme, but this year they wanted something to work alongside their new theme of Little Bo Peep and Little Boy Blue. The design was quite simple, so I started by roughly painting in the sky and the hills. I then drew a blossom tree, cow and oast house free hand and then started to build up layers and add in details. This mural took me two days to complete. I might have got it finished sooner, but I spent a good amount of time fretting about what I was doing without having Dean to ask for advice, but I got there in the end!
Next we started a trompe l’oeil mural for an older couple in Welling. Their granddaughter Neeha was on her Easter holidays, so they asked if she could help us out as she has an interest in art. They wanted a balcony scene painted viewed through two arches, with the ocean and a hill with houses on in the distance. The wanted the painted balcony to match up with their existing conservatory flooring. Dean roughly drew the mural out by eye and then Neeha and I started to block in the colours. We then painted the ocean whilst Dean concentrated on some details in the distance. This mural took us four days to complete with Neeha’s help and I think her grandparents were very pleased with the results.
This week we have started a huge job in Wokingham commissioned by Wokingham council, to paint a large underpass with a woodland theme. We spent most of the first day preparing the wall (brushing, chiselling and washing) and giving everything an undercoat of white masonry paint. This gives us a nice surface to work on and helped fill in any little holes in the wall. We also decided to paint the huge underpass ceiling, as it was really quite grotty, so we brushed and washed this and then gave that an initial coat of white paint. The nest day, dean started drawing out the landscape whilst I gave the ceiling another coat of white paint and started blocking in some colours of the main walls. Painting ceilings is always quite a difficult job as you have to bend your neck at a very unnatural angle. I hadn’t ever painted a ceiling quite this big before, so I wasn’t prepared for the severe neck and shoulder ache I would have the next day! I was very happy when I could move onto the walls and stand upright. On day three we gave some of the base colours a second coat and began to add in some background details. Luckily the weather has been quite lovely this week, so working outside has been rather nice. It’s not so nice having to walk 10 minutes to the nearest café to use their toilets, but at least it means lots of tea!
On Thursday we visited an all girls secondary school in Blackfen to give a talk about ourselves and our work, as we are starting a project with one of their year 12 art classes. Over the next six weeks we will be assisting the pupils to come up with ideas for stencils that they can then make with our help, to form a collaborative mural on one of the school’s exterior walls, promoting growth mind-set. As well as coming up with ideas to fit their brief, they will learn how to produce stencils and spray stencils as well as become more informed about the commercial art world and the grant application process. This is a really exciting project and will be something a little different from what we normally do. I will keep you updated on our progress!
Next week we’re back to Wokingham, which is where we will be until the end of April, painting the underpass. After that, we have some interesting youth work in the pipeline and some more private houses and school work to get stuck into!
Until I ramble at you again, I hope you all have a lovely couple of weeks and that we can start to look forward to the Summer (she says, sat in Deans studio as rain pours down outside…).
Thanks for reading.
|Posted on February 26, 2016 at 11:35 AM||comments (0)|
It’s been a busy month for us which can only be a good thing!
When I left you last time, our next job was going to be painting a dinosaur landscape in a school corridor. When we arrived at the school, all ready for dinosaurs and volcanoes and all that sort of business, the head teacher had a last minute change of mind... and asked us to paint a huge stairwell to look like an African rain-forest! After we had gone and bought a lot more green paint (and I mean a LOT more green paint!) and blocked off the stairwell for public access (much to the teachers and the pupils dismay) we could make a start on this huge space. Firstly we painted sky blue around the top section of the stair well. This was a bit tricky, but with some paintbrushes masking taped to sticks, we were able to get into the most awkward of corners! We then painted in the tree line, and whilst Dead was making a start painting a waterfall, I had the task of painting all of the remaining space green... and then giving it a second coat! It was quite the work out and I didn’t even flinch eating almost a full tub of Ben and jerry’s that night. Dean then started adding layer of shapes in slightly darker greens to add depth and I made a start on painting the animals that would inhabit our rain forest. I like painting animals, especially birds for some reason, which was something I never even tried to paint before I started working for Dean. We added a toucan, an eagle a couple of parrots, some smaller brightly coloured birds, a stork, a frog, a snake and a baby chimpanzee. These animals helped to make the mural more interesting and educational and meant there was something new for the pupils and teachers to find every day after we finished painting. We added some detail into the foreground vegetation and some little finishing touches like butterflies and insects, and we were done! This took us two weeks to paint altogether and the school were very happy with the results. They even bought a life-size gorilla model to sit proudly at the top of the stairs, watching over his new home and any mischievous pupils!
Next we went to another school, this time to paint a large underwater scene in their school hall. This space was a huge blank canvas and needed something imaginative and inspiring for the children to look at. We started by painting the entire wall in a blue gradient, from light to dark and then back to light again, to give the illusion of a sea bed and depth. Dean painted waves of light along the very top of the wall, to look like the ocean’s surface as seen from below and I started painting in the black background for the coral. This took longer than I expected as we also had to paint the radiators and just sanding them down took a while! Once the space for the coral was all painted in two coats of black, we started drawing out the sea creatures. We included lots of different sized fish and mammals, including a huge blue whale, a shark, killer whales, dolphins, a turtle, many little fish, a sea horse, a sting ray and a deep sea diver. I painted some of the smaller fish and Dean made a start on the larger ones. I then began to paint in the coral, building it us as I went and trying to make it look as natural and unregimented as I could. Once the coral and creatures had been painted, we added the little finishing touches that really bring scenes like this to life, such as tiny air bubbles, big air bubbles and lots seaweed. This took us two weeks to paint and really brightened up an otherwise dull space. We painted this mainly during the half term holiday, so it was quite a shock for the pupils when they returned but they seemed to really love it.
This week we made a start on a mural in Margate, painting the sea front in a bar. We will finish this off in a few weeks time when we aren’t so busy.
We also painted a nursery in Horsham for a young couple expecting their first child. The room had already been painted grey, orange and white which are really modern and interesting colours to work with. The parents wanted some ‘dream bubbles’ painted around the cot, with various Disney and cartoon characters in, including Genie from Aladdin, Dumbo, Winnie the Pooh and Piglet and Ball and King Louie from the Jungle book. They also wanted two trees painted in the window alcove, one on either side, with the alphabet on one and numbers on the other. Once dean had marked out when he wanted the dream bubbles to go, we drew out the characters within them and then whilst Dean painted the trees I painted the bubbles. The bubbles were fairly straight forward, but a really effective idea if you just want something small but detailed to add interest to a wall. The trees looked fantastic when Dean had finished, the simple tree outline with the brightly coloured lettering worked really well and will be great for when the baby is older making the room functional for many years. This took us just two days to paint as the walls had already been painted with their chosen back ground colours.
We’re booked up until April, so have lots of interesting projects coming our way in the next couple of months. We’re also starting the preparation for Chalk It Up! Sittingbourne Chalk art Festival 2016 which will be taking place on the 10th and 11th of September in Sittingbourne High Street. If you would like to get involved, please go here and complete our online registration form. We’re looking for professional and amateur artists to unleash their creativity and create something amazing on a wall or floor space in the High street.
Hope you all have a nice end to your February and here’s hoping that the weather does actually start to improve in the near future!
|Posted on January 22, 2016 at 9:45 AM||comments (0)|
Happy New Year!
I hope everyone had a delightful Christmas and that 2016 is already off to a good start – despite this cold horrid weather!
We had a lovely long Christmas break, where I saw lots of friends and family, ate waaaay too much chocolate and had a few too many lie ins! I tried to stay a little creative during the break, painting Christmas presents for a few friends (namely an Inky Batman and a Batman/Punisher combo) in between sleeping and filling my face. But now we are back to work and have lots already planned for the year ahead!
Our first job in January was for a friend of Deans named Alan, who already has many murals painted by Dean adorning the walls of his home. This time he required our services as he wanted a Tommy Cooper caricature painted on a door that leads to his loft and a Religious pastiche painted on his kitchen ceiling, depicting Mary holding a baby Jesus being gifted Gold by one of the kings on one side, and Mary cleaning up Jesus’ blood whilst being presented his crown of thorns on the other. I started with the Tommy Cooper Mural which was pretty straight forward. Once the image was drawn out onto the door (which had been removed from its hinges, making it easy to prop up down stairs and paint) I started to paint it with high quality acrylics, building up layers as I went This particular image was just challenging for me as the face was realistic in style, yet the body was more cartoon like. I found it difficult to paint both of these styles in one image, but after a lot of tweaking I think it turned out ok! I then wrote the famous Tommy Cooper quote ‘Just like that!’ above the image is script and below the image a joke from some of his stand up. As the door had been originally painted with gloss paint, I had to sand it down before painting to ensure the paint would adhere to the surface and then to finish I touched up the gloss around the image where it had been rubbed off. Dean had been tackling the kitchen ceiling mural whilst I’d been painting the door. I had never painted an actual picture on a ceiling before (clouds don’t count), so this was new territory for me. It was amazing how Dean managed to transfer the image and then paint whilst holding the brush and his head in such an unnatural way. It’s so difficult painting above you and feels very odd. I only helped a little with this mural, but the strain on your neck is quite apparent so it’s not something I think I could do all of the time! Dean decided to paint the mural in sepia tones, which worked really well. He added layer upon layer of paint, gradually working from dark to light to build depth and detail into the image. We finished the ceiling off with some hand written text from bible scripture, which really helped to finish off the design but was just so hard to do. Having to hold a paint brush steady enough to do lettering whilst your brain keep informing you that you are somehow defying gravity, is quite the task! But we managed it and Alan was very pleased with his new additions (so much so, that he bought me a beautiful bunch of flowers which was a very lovely thought. No one ever buys me flowers!). Both murals took us a combined four days to complete.
Next we were in Dean’s old Primary School in Higham, painting fruit and vegetables around the serving hatch in their canteen. We had some assistance from Cameron, the son of one of Deans old school friends, who was helping us out for some work experience for College. We started by drawing out the groups of fruit and vegetables in sharpie onto the walls (for simple, bold imagery we find this works best) and then we painted around the groups with a pale yellow back ground colour, to really brighten un and refresh the space. Once two coats of colour was applied to the back ground, we began to block in the fruit and veg which Cameron also helped us with. Dean and I could then start adding details and colour gradients to really bring the pictures to life. This transformation took us three days, and we even got to sample some delicious school dinners which really took me back to my primary school days!
The following day we started a really fun mural on the outside of a newly refurbished beauty salon in Sheerness. The client wanted an art deco style womans face, but that was pretty much our only brief. Dean and I chose this really pretty illustration of a woman profile, with a hummingbird and lots of flowers surrounding her face. The colours were beautiful and subtle and the client loved it, so we started to paint! The wall and surrounding exterior of the salon needed a lot of preparation, so i got on with that whilst dean draw out the design. I could then start blocking in certain parts whilst he focused on carefully blending colours on her face and in her hair to give the mural a dreamy finish. We only had one day on this job as we were due elsewhere the following day, but we made a really good start and will finish the mural when we can, weather permitting!
This week we have been painting at Medicys, a medical research facility in Sittingbourne. They’re currently having a complete refurbishment of their offices and wanted to extend their corporate identity and make the space more interesting and visually stimulating. Getting inspiration from some small character illustrations from the company’s website we painted stylised figures walking up the stirs from their reception area to the first floor. These add fun to the space as well as showing a little more about the company (each figure is dressed as a member of the medical professional) as well as making visual links to their website and promotional information. We also painted the company logo and name onto a central pillar in the reception, letting clients know they are in the right place and again extending the brand identity. This took us three days to complete as well as doing some sign writing for an adjoining company on one of the upstairs walls.
Coming up, we have an underwater scene to paint in a school hall, a prehistoric landscape to paint in a school corridor, Repunzel and some Disney dream bubbles! So keep checking our facebook page for updates on what and where we are painting!
January is almost at an end, so that means our wallets will gradually begin to look a little healthier and the sun will hopefully start making a more frequent appearance!
|Posted on December 17, 2015 at 10:35 AM||comments (0)|
It was about a month ago that I last wrote the blog, and we’ve been pretty busy in that time. It just goes so fast! Today marks one week until Christmas Eve... where does the year go? I’m a little more organised this Christmas than I have been in previous years, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to be shopping this weekend in a last minute effort to buy some gifts!
When I last wrote we were going to be starting some touch ups at Darent Valley hospital in the Children’s A&E ward. Previously Dean had painted a wildlife scene around the whole ward and after having some renovations done (doors moving etc) they needed a bit of grass and some flowers re-painted.
The next day we started a very interesting mural in Essex. The lady who commissioned us is a huge dragon fan (much like myself) and after a conversation with her husband one evening about how they could make their living room have a little more impact, they settled on getting us in to paint a giant Red Smaug like fire breathing dragon, walking down the entire space next to the staircase! Complete with treasure to guard, of course. The rest of their home was decorated quite neutrally, so it really was eye catching and showed visitors a little about their personalities as soon as they walked through the front door. It was a little tricky positioning ladders in the staircase to enable us to reach the highest part of the wall (the dragons wings were massive and reached right up to the ceiling), but we figured it all out in the end. The dragon and it’s treasure were all drawn free hand, and once the main part of the drawing was completed we started by painting in a subtle smoky background. The dragon and its treasure were painted over the top of this, with me focusing on the treasure and the fire and Dean making a start on the dragon. I then began to block in colours on the dragons body whilst dean added detail to the face and body over the top. The whole mural took us 4 days to complete due to the size and detail that went into it, and the clients were very pleased with the result.
After this we started a job in Barnet, painting a mural in the bedroom of a 14 year old arsenal fan. He wanted a mural of Thierry Henry celebrating a goal in front of a lot of angry Tottenham fans. The crowd were to be painted in black and white (obscene hand gestures and all) with Thierry Henry in colour. The house we were painting in was being totally refurbished so it was like a building site when we arrived (complete with about twenty male builders and one port-a-loo. Luckily, I’ve been to many music festivals, so the facilities weren’t too much of a shock, but it was still a little unpleasant!). We started by roughly drawing out all of the faces in the crowd and Thierry Henry. We could then start blocking in the faces, gradually building up the layers and the details on each of them. Once the crowd was painted (which took us three days due to the amount of detail) we could paint Henry and add some finishing touches to the pitch. This took us four days to complete.
To get into the Christmas spirit, Dean decided he wanted to paint a little gift for the people of Sittingbourne. We have recently got permission to paint a mural on the side of the Sweet Barrow in the high street (this mural will be now completed in January), but before that mural goes ahead Dean thought we could paint a temporary festive mural for the weeks leading up to the new year. We choose a lovely blue snowy landscape, complete with Christmas trees, a snow man, deer, rabbits, doves and well wishes. This mural took us 16 hours to complete and we hope that it brightens the high street a little for all of the shoppers and puts them in a festive mood!
Next, we painted a Mickey Mouse mural in a little girl’s bedroom in Loose. Her mum wanted it to look like there was a hole in the wall and through it the Disney castle could be seen on a hill top, with Mickey, Minnie and Pluto waving through the hole. We started by drawing this out and marking where the bricks should be painted and then we could begin painting in the back ground. Dean focused on the brick work and the sky and I painted the castle and the characters. This mural was completed in two days.
This week we have been painting a pretty mural in Borstal. The client wanted a blossom tree painted in her little girls bedroom, with fairies and animals dotted about the tree. Dean painted the tree free hand and chose a really nice grey colour for the bark and added pretty pink and white blossom and green leaves to the branches. This is quite time consuming as each leaf and blossom are painted individually. I focused on painting four fairies flying within the blossom (I love painting fairies, I used to draw them all the time when I was younger, but that’s because I thought I was going to be the next Brian Froud... The Labyrinth was one of the biggest influences on my young life, and that’s possibly why I’m a little odd in adulthood!), a squirrel running up the tree, a robin, some butterflies, a bee and a fawn. To make the mural extra magical, we added silver accents to the tree trunk and branches and to the outline of the fairies wings. We also added some subtle silver glitter to the wings, so they shimmered in the light. This mural took us two days to complete.
There is now just one week until Christmas, so we are winding down for the holiday. Next week we have another little girls room to complete, just in time for Christmas. And then we take a little break to eat lots of food and to drink and be merry, and to rejuvenate for the New Year! I am very excited for the first Christmas morning spent with my boyfriend in the flat that we now both share, and then it’s off to my parents house to eat a gigantic Christmas feast and drink too much bucks fizz whilst watching Christmas films on the telly. It’s going to be wonderful.
I hope you all have a truly lovely Christmas and get to share it with all of the people you love, and to relax and enjoy yourselves ready for the New Year. We will be back in January to continue painting murals wherever we can. I might even try to get more paint on the walls than on myself in the New Year, but I’m not making any promises.
Merry Christmas, Everyone