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