Monday, June 9, 2008

Amherst projects....otherwise known as "what have I gotten myself into this time"

I've been working on several murals in Amherst for about two years now. This is the incomplete east side of the garage entrance that was commissioned by the Amherst Public Arts Council in 2007. It's nearly complete now, but I don't have a recent image of it for this post. If you aren't familiar with the area, Amherst may as well be half a world's an effort to get there and when I go I have to be like a girlscout, which I never was, and remember everything that I might need, including a bucket of water and all of my acrylic paints, just in case. It's been a fun project.
Recently, the Council has contacted me again to finish up some pillars that are actually inside the dark and very cement-like garage innards. They had put out a call to artists to have these pillars decorated by local artists and offered a small commission to have each one done. There are still ten pillars left and they want to complete the project. I've spent a lot of time in that garage while painting the ramp walls, and it really needs to be brightened up. I've been feeling a little overwhelmed, given all the projects I have on my plate right now AND working the full time job with ECA, so I enlisted my amazingly talented friend, Bronwen, to help decide what to do with the pillars, and also to execute the concept once it is, or if accepted by the Council.
We started out thinking that the main focus should be to somehow tie the pillars that are already painted in with the rest of them...not an easy task because they are all so different. So, we thought simple, but sophisticated, bright, and include a repeating pattern that's not too complicated, but interesting enough. After much deliberation and trying very hard to work with some more complicted motifs, we decided on a relatively simple plan. It's a three color palette, basically spring/summer, winter, and fall, with a really pretty flower motif. Given there are 10 pillars, these colors would be divided up among the 10. 4 greens, 3 blues, 3 reds. Our thoughts and concept are that the repeating pattern and palette will work to tie the garage together and create a feeling of intention, but also give an intuitive feeling as well with the random repeating flowers (yes, we just finished reading Dean Nimmer's book!). It's simple, bright, and sophisticated, and easy to understand. We are trying to avoid complicating the scene for the other, more intricate pillars, but also make them interesting enough to stand on their own without being too loud or complicated.
(oh, the pillars are square, not round, and measure 17" x 6' 4")
Over the weekend, one of the Council members came into my studio. I had been thinking about the project (given all my free time), and thought that these pillars should be given a really glossy sealant after they are done. It would almost make them "car-like" and also make them really shiny and even nicer to look at. Usually a gloss medium really brightens a painting, especially if it's acrylic. It's almost like cranking up the contrast in photoshop. I have to pass this one by'll be one more trip to the land of Amherst....but probably well worth it.

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