Saturday, July 28, 2012

What Goes Up Must Come Down!

My VERY able-bodied assistant Sherwin Peterson starts the laborious process of removing all of the painted panels from the temporary frame inside the hockey rink at Young in order to carry on with the rest of the project.

There is no escaping the salient fact that a lot of manual labor is required to create a project of this magnitude. I am so grateful for our combined physical stamina...we need it for sure!

The painted panels rest for a while at the base of the frame until they are all moved out of the way later.

Because there is such a close, tight seam between the 4' x 8' panels, there really is no way to avoid a slight build-up of paint over the hairline cracks. This creates a bridge of the extremely tough acrylic polymer that must be carefully scored with a utility knife in order to separate the panels for re-positioning. Hey, nobody said it would be easy!

You can see that the bridge of paint actually creates a tough 'hinge' between the panels as I am shown bending a panel ahead in order to make scoring easier. I just ran my blade down the 'valley' that was created when the panel was pried out from its frame.

Attacking another panel in order to remove it from the frame

After several hours of VERY careful, meticulous work, all of the uppermost panels were finally removed from the frame and set gingerly on short pieces of 2" x 4" material to keep them off the gravel.

All of the 'more-or-less' finished panels from the very top of the mural had to be re-located to stand against the boards of the rink. I want to do my final touch-ups while standing on the ground, or at least a step-ladder. As well, I decided that I wanted all of the panels within view while working on the final big chunk...continuity is really critical and I want to be able to refer frequently to the painted panels while working on the next set.

Nothing like a strong cuppa java to get us through all of the heavy lifting. Between coffee and high-energy snacks, we managed to power our way through the day's labor.

Making progress! Now the frame stands ready to receive the final set of an additional twenty 4' x 8' painters' panels.

Getting fresh panels mounted on the bottom of the frame took some considerable energy...but we were thankful that we had built the temporary frame ahead of time and it was all ready for us to carry on with phase II.

Only one more panel to go...Sherwin was a huge help. There's no way on God's green Earth that one person could manage these heavy (3/4" panels weigh about 80 lbs at least) sheets without some serious, sustained assistance. Man, I am so grateful that Sherwin has once again taken time out of his busy schedule to help out! Good help is hard to find...but I have found it! 

Now it's time to start all over again as these panels must be primed and then painted of course to align perfectly with the panels above. Registration is the key! Anticipated completion date? About the end of August if all goes without a hitch, which is fairly unlikely.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Fixed the 'Subscriber' issue

A lot of people have mentioned to me that they have been unable to subscribe to my 'Art of Michael R. Gaudet' blog due to a glitch in the widget that I have been (trying) to use up till now. Well I looked into it and have hopefully fixed the problem. Now you can subscribe by email or if you are a Google + user there is also that option. Since I started working on the 'forever YOUNG' mural about seven weeks ago this blog has had well over 10,000 visitors, but not that many subscribers.
Now, you do not have to check in to see if I have updated with a new post; when you select one of the subscriber options you will receive an automatic notification whenever I publish an update...usually about two or three times a week.
My intention with this project blog is to simply share the work-in-progress so you can witness first hand the evolution of this humungous mural. There is still quite a ways to go...I have pretty much finished the top 12' by 80' portion and now I am just about to start the second big chunk...the bottom 8' x 80' to finish.
So hang on, there will lots of fun stuff to follow yet to come!
But I think the most exciting part will be when it's finished and erected outside the rink at Young, Saskatchewan for all of the world to see. The process of mounting this huge mural will be a sight to behold so you will not want to miss it.
You will see on the upper right-hand side of this page that there is a pop out menu with subscriber options.
Have a great day, enjoy yourself and let me know if you have any problem in the future with the subscription process. I'll do my best to make it as easy as possible.

Signing off for now from the beautiful Resort Village of Manitou Beach,


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

'forever YOUNG' Mural goes Public

It was so gratifying for both myself and the organizers that there was SUCH a good turnout for the first official 'sneak peek' of the mural-in-progress. Not that surprising though, Young is a very strong community, proudly rooted in their pioneer past with an eye to the future while savoring the 'precious present'!

More and more people streamed in as the delicious aromas of barbeque-d burgers wafted through the air...

There was a lot of discussion and story-telling as people reminisced about their fore-fathers -and mothers. It seems that the experience of seeing family connections immortalized in the mural sparks vivid memories for today's residents of Young.

We had to keep bringing more tables and chairs down from the upper deck to accommodate the steady influx of curious visitors for the 'sneak peek' of the mural-in-progress.

Ice-cream played a pivotal role in celebrating the day. Nothing tops off a delicious burger like a couple of scoops of the good stuff!

I was impressed with the excellent attendance, but not very surprised. If I can say one thing about the Village of Young for sure, it is that they have an incredibly strong community spirit!

Mmm, good burgers and pop were enjoyed by all. Hot dogs too and let's not forget the ice cream! I was so happy that people of all ages, from seniors to toddlers and everything in between came out to enjoy the sneak peek celebration. One of the greatest forms of 'job satisfaction' for me is the interaction with people who all relate in one way or another with the mural. So this was a very powerful affirmation of community spirit. Everybody at the event felt, I am sure, a sense of quiet pride and solidarity that there community has marshaled their resources to initiate this ambitious project. Remember, we are talking about a very small, yet tight-knit community here of only about 200 residents. So really, the outpouring of support for this project is quite phenomenal!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Winding Up Phase 1 of 'forever YOUNG' Mural

More detail begins to surround the figures on the right-hand side of the mural, creating vigorous texture in the 'negative space'. It is important that the textures have a certain visual signature, even if it looks very expressionistic, even bordering on abstract.

There are plenty of ambient areas of the mural that will end up looking totally abstract if taken out of context. I enjoy these playful bits and here is just one example of what I mean.

The micro-vista showing an early harvest with wheat stooks is starting to come into focus.

They're not there yet, but coming to life. The first thing viewers will see will likely be the large portraits on the upper left-hand side of the mural, so it is important that they have a palpable presence.

The six-foot high portrait of Mr. Southey -Young's first postmaster- appears to be more of a portrait of the die-hard farmer, determined to marshal his resources successfully for yet another year, despite the challenges of weather, weeds, bugs and all of the other hurdles he must overcome to bring in the crop.

My parting shot of the work-in-progress just before leaving after another productive day's work.

I dropped in just for a brief time this afternoon to touch up Mrs. Southey's portrait. Still not finished, but she will be fine until I get back to her on Monday morning.

The portraits of the Southeys are nearing completion. Just have to let them rest for the weekend then I will attack on Monday morning with fresh eyes.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Closing in on Phase 1 (of 'forever YOUNG' mural)

The careful observer will note that there is a lot more detail in the turf surrounding the team of oxen. In fact the detail in this case is exaggerated to accentuate the texture of the virgin prairie and upturned sod created by the plow. There is a micro-detail just emerging directly below the ox on the right which features a little vista showing an early crop of wheat overseen by a pioneer farm couple.

It is very unlikely that this vista will be visible from a great will appear simply as a golden smudge to the casual observer driving by at highway speed.

It will only be appreciated when the driver does a double take, slows down and actually gets out of the vehicle to inspect more closely. The hope is that a percentage of passer-bys will take the time to pull off to take a better look.

Now the gal busy doing her laundry will be more visible as she is 'set off' by the vigorously rendered greenery of the field that surrounds her in the composition.

Friday, July 13, 2012

'forever YOUNG' mural approaches 10K hits!

This morning I see that this blog has generated over 9100 hits since I started posting progress reports on the 'forever YOUNG' mural project about five weeks ago. That is a good thing! Thank you to everyone who is following. It means a lot to me. I do notice, however, that there are not that many of  you who have subscribed to the updates. For those of you who are not familiar with this, it is very easy. You will see a sliding tab on the upper right-hand side of the page here. When you hover over it with your cursor you will see it pop out with four options. One of which is 'subscribe'. When you click there, you will be asked to supply your e-mail address. So when I post my next update (usually about 2 a week) you will receive a notice directly in your inbox. So you will never have to wonder when and if I have posted. 

There, now that that bit of housekeeping is done, let's get back to the fun stuff!

At the end of each day, if I still have the energy, I usually climb up to the top of a VERY tall step ladder ( I think it's a 16' ) to take a distant, high shot of the day's progress. You have seen this before! At this point we can see that the overall effect is becoming very colorful, yet thanks to all of the under-painting there is a discernible continuity throughout the entire work. That is, indeed, one of the most powerful unifying aspects of working in the 'global' glazing technique.

You can see that the large portraits -about 6 feet from top to bottom- are coming to life as each successive glaze is applied with increasingly more resolution.

Now that the grain bin is painted its typical 'red' color the left-hand side of the mural begins to look very colorful.

The center of the mural top section is now virtually finished. There will be some more detailing but you will not see any really noticeable difference unless you examine it very closely.

Moo! These three critters are just about life-size...but will loom large over the buildings of Main Street Young when the bottom is completed. My idea of a little visual fun, playing with the scale within the composition.

Filling in more detail in the background field tends to make the team of oxen and Dennis Sather's aunt (operating the washing machine) stand out that much more.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

'forever YOUNG' Mural Shaping Up

Now the full-spectrum tonal treatment is beginning to be eclipsed by the natural colors as they dominate the visual landscape.

The long view shows the horizon of the mural starting to be easily recognizable by the various 'fingerprint' images that begin to go pop.

More and more local people along with their friends and relatives are trickling in for a sneak preview as word leaks out to coffee row that this ambitious project is taking form right under the collective noses of the community.

I usually just keep right on working when curious visitors -many of which are stakeholders in the project as they have lent their family name and cherished archival images to the overall design. Every single person and event that will be ultimately represented are specific to the community of Young. Between myself and the steering committee we scoured through well over one-hundred images to narrow down the scope to the final authorized design.

The large portraits on the upper right-hand side begin to dominate the space, appearing to loom large behind the word 'forever', which is an important graphic element in the overall design.

I decided to frame this photo to include the entire word 'YOUNG', or at least the portion of the word visible in the upper 3/5ths of the mural. The length of the word exceeds forty feet. With the addition of all of the various details and color fields behind and around the word, it now starts to take on a three-dimensional effect...hovering in front of all the activity. You will see as the painting progresses that there is actually a playful relationship between the graphic 'YOUNG' and its environ.

The life-sized team of four oxen at the upper right-hand side of the mural almost appear to be protruding out of the panel, thanks to the forceful use of strong contrasting colors and a simplification of the shapes and textures to be recognizable in a slightly exaggerated, theatrical style of painting. Mural-painting is much more than merely painting large. Successful murals must be designed and painted to be viewed from a great distance so the features must out of necessity be graphically vital.

Dennis Sather's aunt is shown operating her new-fangled washing machine. At the time the original picture was taken, this machine would have been a top-of-the-line modern convenience for the farm-wife. This picture has about five glazes so far. Probably about 5-7 to go.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Let there be (Native) Color!

After the full-spectrum tonal study it is time to introduce the local or native colors into the mix. Surprisingly, this happens quite quickly, as all of the groundwork has been laid.

Say goodbye to the strange-looking colors that previously dominated the scene. In the coming days everything will begin to appear lush and vividly that I am into the natural hues superimposed over the full-spectrum tonal study.

In a matter of a just a few more days, I can now say with confidence that all of the detail and colors will be coalescing to create a startling illusion of reality, albeit on a fairly gigantic scale.

You can now plainly see how the figures are really starting to pop three dimensionally out of the background. But with no trickery beyond the judicious use of contrast and field of depth techniques. For example, all of the layers are applied with careful consideration so as NOT to create lumps and bumps in the paint. I do not subscribe to the idea of plastering on a thickness of paint that lamely imitates a low-relief effect. For me, the surface of the finished painting remains relatively smooth. I am a purist in that way and always have been.

Introducing the actual colors that signify the various companies that ran the parade of grain elevators in the heyday of Young, SK.