2 minute VIDEO of the whole mural!

This is my video summary of the major steps in the process of making it all look right. It was simple, but difficult and technical at the same time…is that believable? Hope you like it…HUGE THANKS to Jonathan Jackson at jhjackson.com for his skilled editing and technical help!  He is the best.

Perhaps if you are wondering, it took:

about 12 trips up into the Needle
about 2 weeks to make the models and create the digital plan of action
about 3 days making the outlines by dragging fat lumber crayons over the rough composite roof
about 6 gallons of house paint of about 7 colors
about 2 weeks of rolling paint
about 15 4-inch rollers
about $120 dollars of spray paint that I never used because it was too windy (!!)

The widest span between leg tips is about 100 feet

Number of times they are referred to as “spiders” vs “harvestmen”:  287:1

Shadow is done! They have proceeded to pry themselves up off the roof…

Wow, I am so tired but so elated.  Not many art projects turn out just how you plan them to…but this one did!  Yesterday was an amazingly beautiful  and dramatic sunset, and I enjoyed it up on the roof with my constant seagull companions and such cool light. 

A shadow with or without the sun!

I have finally started with the shadow, and it is quite exciting. I have waffled back and forth on the color, and ordered unusable gallons of paint, but in the end…the color is BLUE!

Through and through, with all this atmosphere that our poor sun has to pass through, the shade on the roof that is cast is closest to Kelly Moore’s “blue lake”. Here are a couple images of late…

Safety meeting on the roof…

Check out this VIDEO news brief of my project on KOMO:

News is amazing, this is the third completely different version I have seen!  Different dialog, different anchors, different helicopter footage for each one!

Here is a timelapse from yesterday. It was death defying as you can see…I needed a full body harness to secure my life that was just hanging in the balance. But the clouds and sunset were beautiful. If you think it was hard for the webcam lens to adjust to the constantly shifting light, imagine my eyes!

Last Friday I got booted off the roof until my contract’s so called “tricky wording” (that took 2 months to figure out…) could  be finished for me to sign, so I took the weekend off.  But arriving Wednesday, amazingly the contract lay before me and was made of real paper and I signed it!  Finally!  There were many weird provisions for safety, (“like no horseplay on the jobsite”??- isn’t that the one thing that made pools fun?)   I  had to get a rundown on the procedure before the guy to sign me off on it left, so that sent me racing down to SODO to get a full body harness and rope anchor system.  Certainly got me stoked to return there to get a bosun’s chair for some huge wall in my future…

Coming back refreshed, I have been hitting it pretty hard, finding so many tiny yet major modifications to make to the female.  I was still unhappy with the base color of the legs, so I mixed together a drabber color that looks much better.  Its so funny…why would the 1″ x 1″ color chip under florescent lights at the paint store look any different on an 80 foot leg viewed at an angle from 500 feet up? Going thru the whole process of adding highlights and shadows has been very tedious…its tricky to guage how much shadow to show on the margin of the left side leg 3 Patella, and for that matter how much highlight on the rim of the distal part of right leg 2’s metatarsal?   Deep questions…deeper responses from my rollers.

I am elated to have the RV up here so I can get an early start tomorrow…Its gonna be a whole day on the male.  I look forward to capturing the whole day with time lapse, but the angle is tough to choose.  Puget sound in the distance like today’s video with the sunset and ferries and containers ships, (but with bad glare for the lens), or from the side or back with the space needle in the distance but a very distorted harvestman…hmmm I will sleep on it.

 

Painting is proceeding in all this heat

Its hot up there, but I would DEFINITELY take heat over the constant wind.  Not both.  I can’t use my expensive larder of spraypaint (I had planned on) because the paint just gets shoved right up into the stratosphere to never pigment evermore.  That said, the mural is progressing like I would have hoped.  Some things are moving slower, some faster, but overall I would go on record saying I am slightly behind.  I have went ahead in exactly the opposite order than I had planned…I will now do the shadow LAST, and everything else first. But that will be super fun because it “pops” already, but with the shadow, it will look so believable.  I can’t wait to do that!

Here is a timelapse from today:

timelapse painting of female opiliones

I started off using about 30 fat lumber marking crayons, which worked great, and had to outline the odd shapes and abstract nature of the Opiliones skewing long.  They are stretched so that the viewers at the observation level of the Space Needle will see a believable 3D illusion.

I made models and photographed them on site at about 1pm to get their shadows.

And when it came time to paint, I laid down a thick dark brown coat of paint that would be my silhouette.  Even with a few legs painted…no details, no highlights, no shadow, they looked amazingly alive and 3D.  Very reassuring and overall it is turning out better than I could have hoped.  Especially from my eavesdropping on passersby at the observation level…everyone seems to notice and get who they are up there with to look at the “spiders”.  Lots of kids showing their parents.  I love it.

I got selected for GAP funding!!

The acronym to know is GAP: Grants for Artist Projects.  It is part of Artist Trust, a Washington organization that hooks up artists with grants.  An incredible resource that I am so honored to receive.

To make a long story short, after months of waiting and wondering, I just found out I was selected!  60 artists from authors to musicians to photographers were picked out of 600 some applications.  I am beyond stoked.  I now have funding for the paint and to rent a boom lift to reach those hard to reach places on walls that are way beyond the reach of an aluminum ladder.

My project on their website is as follows:

Marlin will use 2011 GAP funding to paint a large public mural in Seattle that is both staggering to the viewer for its size and subject, and amusingly perplexing for its “trompe l’oeil” realism. The majority of the cost will be the rental of a boom lift to reach high onto the wall. This will allow the mural to be able to be completed fast, and give it the great size and scope that will make it a landmark and an icon.

Here is a mock up I just finished of what is would look like on the roof of the Armory at Seattle Center:

What this description leaves out is what I will be painting on the wall or surface in question.  What exactly is “trompe l’oeil?  Good question.  It is French for ‘deceive the eye’. Basically it is painting extremely realistic imagery in order to create the optical illusion that the depicted objects appear in three dimensions.

My mural will be 2 huge, huge Opiliones arachnids hanging out like we always see them, casually and vertically on a wall or roof.  They will be approximately 1 zillion times life-size, depending on the site I get.  I chose them because of the cool way their long legs cast shadows, and that they are not threatening- they don’t have venom, fangs, and thus don’t bite humans.  They are a familiar sight here in Seattle and contrary to popular belief, they are not even spiders!

I will utilize my years of scientific illustration to sketch the cuties from real specimens.  To achieve a believable trompe l’oeil effect, I will have to choose a “time of day”.  Both the subtle glare on the exoskeletal plates and the position of the cast-shadow onto the wall will be of utmost importance.  To do this I will make miniature models of them and bring them to the wall or roof at the right time of day to cast the perfect shadow, (that I can map and photograph).  To passersby (or visitors to the space needle!) it will appear that these flat painted daddy long legs are indeed 3 dimensional, alive and enjoying the sun.

Please let me know what you think!

Mural unveiling in Tacoma

The mural is finished!  It was a fascinating process, and being part of the neighborhood for a few weeks while passersby stopped to check out the progress was so cool.

It was sweet that the city of Tacoma had the wall prepped and painted our chosen blue color for us.  The only major obstacles were the late season, (which brought minimized hours of light and rainy weather), and the deep, deep recesses of the grout that had to be meticulously dabbed with small brushes to drive the color into them.  We certainly used the rough surfaces of the brick to our advantage, giving swaths of color a stipple effect in its gradation, but large sweeping motions across the wall had to be touched up into every grout cavity!  It was tedious, but the outcome was worth it….I can’t believe how well we masked how rough the wall was!

We had worked on a few iterations of the idea in our preliminaries, but only minimal color studies so we worked it out as we went along.  here are some of the original sketches:  

…millipedes, tires, blackberries, her setting was not set even as we started to apply paint to wall.  I am happy with the grass we chose though- the varying blades and swaths of color gave it more dimensionality and really tied together the floating community elders with the girl staring at the slug.

Jeremy was awesome to work with, we gave each other advice and truly respected each other’s opinions as we bounced ideas and techniques off each other all day. 

At first there was talk and then a date for a community “unveiling”.  Not knowing what to expect, I was shocked at how cool it was.  The wall was covered in a plastic curtain (!), the mayor showed up to speak, we were given framed appreciation certificates, and we painted our names on the bottom corner.  I was so happy to get a formal shout out of appreciation!  I am now hopelessly hooked on murals, and just large public art in general, and I really look forward to making more murals in the near future. 

Click here for an article from Tacoma Spaceworks