Sunday, September 16, 2012

Tuscan Trees in Mural

Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

I have got trees now in my mural project! And they are not all bad . . . it is a start, anyway: One foot in front of the other. Well, now that it is behind me, I can confess that on the 14th, I lost my confidence. I am not sure why then, but . . . yes, I am. For all the preparation work that I did with perspective and composition decisions, once I got the enlarged drawing on the wall, it either was not what I thought I had designed or it was simply wrong; it did not work.

It is amazing how similar and yet how very different mural painting is from street painting. When I was street painting, people often asked me if I could do a large painting on canvas. “Sure,” I said, “this is what I do.” But when I quoted a price, many were stunned. Why would it be “so high” and take “so long” when I see you in the street recreating the Mona Lisa large, in one day, working for tips? Well, I do not mean to get off on a rant here, but basically, I was making temporary art on the street and a copy of someone else’s design. And while I always try to do a good job, street painting is more a performance art than it is fine art. I do not mean that in a negative way, by any means. I mean that I have a relatively short deadline and my main goal is to make an impression with a very large image during that time. Impress you. That is the goal of a street painter. Spettacolo!

Yes, of course I want to impress people with all of the art that I make. However, when I have time to design something and make it last, it is a whole other ballgame. There are other ways in which to impress. Yet there I was, standing before my work and not happy. I had redrawn the first figure because she just looked too small. And eventually did the same with the distant figure. And then, two days ago, I realized that the middle figure would not work at any size because the viewpoint to the model was wrong. She is below me (as viewer) and thus, my reference from my model must reproduce that viewing position.

I used to exhibit a terrible temper. But I have worked on that over the years because I did not want to be that person. I now tend to turn my anger inside and I am not too kind when I am angry with myself. Was mine an error in calculations (which I should know better!) or was I simply experiencing my first mural project and learning that theories are one thing, reality quite another? Harumph! Lucky me. Having a better understanding now of myself, I know that this love-hate thing is often a part of each creation. (Whew!) This is because I am trying something new with each artwork, even if it may not look like that to you.

Frustration turns to anger; anger to depression and lost confidence. I know that in this case, I was also feeling overwhelmed by what I wanted to accomplish, with a few voices telling me that I would not be able to do this project by my deadline. First step: breathe. Second: Slow down and take time to think about what needs to be done and in what order. Do not run. Walk. It is a tortoise-and-hare thing and progress is progress. I needed to stop thinking about being “forced” to move fast (not my forte), and get back to thoughts of making something worth seeing, regardless of deadlines.

So, I contacted my model and arranged to redo the pose for the figure I needed. In mural painting, unlike street painting, I must create the background first. I also need to create the scene before adding the figures into that scene. However, their sizes and placements help me determine other compositional elements in the whole work. That is why muralist Victor Goikoetxea told me that one always fully designs the mural before any of actual artwork gets done. There is none of this, “Let’s see where the artwork takes me” kind of thing possible in most other creative endeavors.

Allora, two days ago was a frustrating, but necessary part of this project. Today, the work is stronger; the figures sized into place. Yesterday, I got what I needed from the model, the lovely Anna Rosa. I also painted the first layer of the background. And I painted trees! I have another day at least ahead of me on the landscape, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. And as they say, “Let us just hope it is not the train.”

If you have followed my career much, you will remember the name of master sculptor Vasily Fedorouk, who was my friend and mentor. Sadly and suddenly, we lost him just over three years ago. His wife Dilbara and I have remained good friends and now she is prepared to sell a selected few pieces of Vasily’s artwork. I will be announcing these pieces, with their prices, in my next art newsletter, which will come out later this month or early October, once I have finished my mural project. If you would like to be one of the first to receive this information, please sign up for my art newsletter. You may preview past newsletters on the following page, if you like:


Anonymous said...

Wow, wow .. You are doing a great job. Looking good already!-Shy

Barbara said...

WHERE do you get your energy, girl? You are just as perfect a writer as you are an artist. Love observing the evolution of your mural and understanding the mind of the artist behind. I'm so curious to see the finished product, but appreciating the process as it develops in the artist's mind is a real trip!