Monday, September 24, 2012

Mural Frisket Figure Painting Italy

Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

Mural making is a bit of a different process than my street painting and my fine art painting. Funny how you learn the strengths and process of each system and make it work out all right, even sometimes mixing the things you learn from each different form of art and hopefully making all of your work stronger.

In mural painting, the environment is created first and then the figures are placed inside of it. [In street painting, one usually starts with the face and works out, so as not to step on the art. In my fine art painting, I work the whole composition, bouncing all over to develop the work in a consistent way.] However, speed and efficiency are qualities one strives for when working in the client’s space. It lessens the distraction factor for all lives involved. Thus, most of the work for my mural project here in Italia was done in my own studio in Firenze, Italia, or on the plane, bus, or while walking somewhere. Constantly thinking I am, and compositional “problems” must be solved, as well as keeping to one main idea. Too much of anything usually confuses and tires the audience.

Because of other things going on in my life, my prep time was quite diminished. I did not have time to draw from a live model, always my preference. Thus, I had to work from digital images from a model and her photographer that I hired. Most of the summer, I was not in the same country as she, so logistics meant that I could not even shoot my own images. None-the-less, I work with great people and I cannot believe how easy it all went. Even after I drew the mural on the wall, I discovered that I needed a reshoot of the woman in the pool. I realized why the image I had was not working. It has to do with perspective. But I received a new image the next day, gratefully! Because of the short turn-times, I think these figures look more like photographs than I hope my normal work does.

As in street painting, I gridded out my figures, only this time onto a transparent paper. This is so I can move the paper around on the scene I have created on the wall and see where the figure on the paper looks best before I draw her into the painting. Sure, I know generally where I want each figure, based on my Bozzetto (small drawing), but my bozzetto in this case was one-tenth the size of the wall. No doubt, mathematical errors will be found simply in the enlarging process. My client and I actually had several fun discussions on how we wanted to change things that just did not look or feel right, regardless of the logic we saw in the perspective work. I have to admit that I really enjoyed our dialogues, especially when I reworked the pool a couple of times.

I admit to being lazy at times. So, while I drew in the outlines of the ladies, I decided not to bother with a precise frisket when I drew the woman in the pool. Frisket is basically a masking material with adhesive on one side. It is designed to protect an area from receiving the treatment given to surrounding areas. I used to use a special kind back in the early 1990s when I did restoration work on 4 x 5 inch film transparencies. I am not crazy about using friskets because I do not like the hard edge they always leave. However, this is how it is done and I did not have time to come up with a preferred method. The main point is to not have landscape showing through underneath my figure. Acrylic paint does not have to be opaque, although it does not become less so with time, as oil painting does.

In these next three images, you may see how I tried to minimize the edging by taping INSIDE my figure outline. I must have been drinking too much wine or liquor that night or was simply really tired when I masked the right hand. The rectangular tape shape tells me that I probably just forgot to cut away the tape outside of my line. That slowed me down a bit as I had to paint with extra care the faux stone floor behind the hand. It is so much easier to paint with abandon to get the strokes moving freely right up to an edge, and then remove the tape for a lovely look!

The last image today is a horrible work-in-progress of the third woman in the scene. While my model Anna Rosa posed for me, I had decided to change her face and turn her into a redhead. I also was inventing the clothing and lighting on the torso, since she had posed wearing a short dress. In addition, I used a photo of me taken in San Sebastian, Spain, as a reference for a more horizontal forearm position. I still have work to do on the redhead.

Thanks for reading! My book about my street painting in Italy is now available in in the US, as well as in several European Amazons. Check it out on my home page for an easy link; Amazon even allows you to see some of the inside pages: You may also order a signed copy directly from me (no extra charge for the inscription) and I will get you a shipping quote from Italy. Contact me directly, please.


Shelley Whiting said...

A very impressive and beautiful picture. I particularly love the shading and modelling of the figure. I love the bright and vibrant color of the swimsuit. A fun and intriguing picture.

Kelly Borsheim said...

Thank you, Shelley! I like those colors on the bathing suit as well and even though I later gave them some tone for three-dimensions, they still have the fun colors that are different from other parts of the mural. This was a fun, but exhausting project and I am curious about how my fresh eyes will see the piece when I return to finish it in the spring. Thank you for posting a comment! cheers, Kelly