Monday, 23 May 2011

Oh how quickly love can turn to hate:

With the spray work complete the mural is almost finished. Part of the design is some curved contouring lines that sweep across the whole painting. For me they have become known as "make or break lines," as if they are wrong they could jeopardise the whole piece. The lines are in stark contrast to the rest of the piece as they are painted on instead of sprayed in a midnight blue and some stretch across all three sections. I was lacking in confidence when I started this process as I was terrified of ruining the work I was so pleased with before. Another problem was due to the lack of space and the height of the mural I have been unable to paint the whole thing is the same room and the right way up. The middle large section was painted on its side in the spray room, whereas the two side sections were painted in a mix of the spray room and the props room. When I felt that the painting was complete I took all the pieces out to the car park so I could see the whole piece together. Then...Disaster. Some of the lines did not work at all; they were totally mismatched and did not flow across the piece. In a nut shell, it was just wrong. With the plan to take the painting to Brighton that evening I had to quickly re do the lines in time for collection. To correct some of the lines they just had to be painted over, as they crossed the white sections it was simple to cover them up. Where the lines crossed the sprayed areas I had to cover the blue with white and then go back over the section with the spray gun to blend in the patched area. Once the damage had been repaired I could then undertake a second attempt to paint in the lines. Before the paintings were packed away I once again laid hem out in the car park to check that everything worked. 

Just shoot me now...

The repainted lines were still not correct. The largeness of the mural was making it hard to achieve a flowing, curving line across the painting. Also being unable to see the painting as a whole whilst working on it was proving even more challenging then I had ever imagined. Not being happy with something that is not perfect I then followed the painting back to Hurstpierpoint in order to attempt a third go at painting the lines. Because the church does not have any pews it meant that I was able to lay the mural out as a whole piece on the floor. I also used a ladder to observe the piece from a height so I could see how it will look once it is on the wall. To fix some of the lines I had to repaint some areas completely, but with others I was just able to thicken up the line in order to create a neater curve. I am still not completely happy with the final outcome, but at this stage there is not a lot else I can do without totally repainting large sections of the mural. Without a spray gun at the church this is also impossible, even if I wanted to. I am hoping that once the painting is on the wall, at a height and I have not been staring at it for so long the imperfections that are so obvious to me now will start to fade.

First Attempt
Second Attempt

Finished Attempt

The transportation of the mural has also caused quite a few hours of deliberation. As the mural is in quite a few sections I was original hopeful that they would fit into my Dads car, however he thought not. I then began to look into hiring a van. The type of van I would need is a Ford Transit style van which can be hired for around £46 a day. The final decision was to attempt fitting them into my Dads car, leaving the van as a backup option and also saving money. We managed to fit all the wooded frames and the two side paintings in the car, but had to make a second trip for the large middle section.

It Fits
Unfortunately I will be unable to attach the mural to the wall in time for hand in which is quite disappointing. I have the time to do it, but I am suffering from a severe lack of man power. As the mural will be placed quite high up I will have to hire scaffolding which can cost around £100, I also need help lifting and attaching it as it is quite heavy and in the name of health and safety I don't think it is appropriate for me to be doing it by myself. In another money saving scheme I have decided to ask area administrator for the Central Sussex United area if another church has scaffolding or a Bambi tower I could borrow (I am still waiting for a response). When the mural is final attached I will use a right angled bracket that will be attached to the frame and then can be screwed into the wall. Once the frames are in place, as each individual frame will be put up separately, they will then be screwed together for added strength and support. When the frames are in place the canvas and plywood can then be nailed to the frames using a nail/staple gun. 

Wednesday, 18 May 2011


To paint the mural I decided to use the spray gun as this creates a really nice finish. I like how it is easy to blend once colour with another and create a light air like texture as the colour slowly fades. I used the gun an a setting with lower air pressure so it makes a speckled, dotted mark which is an affect I like as I think a solid colour would have been too strong. Also a more broken finish means it is easier to blend in more than one colour and it also hides any mistakes that might occur like drips or too much paint. This techniques also allows you to put colour on really quickly so the majority of the sprayed areas were completed in one day. Similarly to the sample I used four blue tone, three green and a black and white. All the paint was watered down and mixed with some glaze, which will aid in protecting the painting once it is finished and also helps the layers of paint cover better. Before spraying I also filtered all the paint through a tea strainer to remove any lumps of debris that could block the gun. The only problem I had was with the added texture I made using the flexbond as the paint held to it differently to the polyfiller that I used on the sample. This created some odd patchiness that did not work. To overcome this I painted the lighter patches with the mid tone blue and then re-sprayed it with the darker blue, this helped them all blend together better. I painted all three section of the mural at the same time so that I could work across them all and make sure that all the parts that overlapped sections were painted the same. With all the spraying complete I removed all the masking and the began painting over any imperfections and painting in the white sections. This took some time as I was anxious to make sure all the lines were straight and as perfect as they could be. I then went back over some parts of the painting with the spray gun using white to blend back in some of the colour as the roller I used to paint in the white had left some streaky marks. There was also some difficulty working in the spray room as the extraction makes it quite windy so I found more of the paint was going on me than on the canvas, but perseverance is the solution to most problems.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Masking Out:

As I am spraying the canvas I had to mask of some areas to protect them from the paint. I used a 1cm wide roll of masking tape to go around the curved sections and then covered the rest in newspaper. I was more careful this time to make sure all the tape was firmly stuck down as on the sample some of the colour leaked and had to be painted back over. Once these sections are painted I will then have to re-mask different areas so they can be painted, working in this fashion until the whole piece is complete.

Masking off

Masked off areas
I also removed and re stuck the strips of fabric on the back of the plywood that were supporting the join as they were not laying flush and were creating quite an obvious line. This did rectify the problem, however, it meant that the large centre piece would no longer fold into three, so I had to remove them once again. At the moment I have not replaced them a third time as it may be sturdy enough to supports itself.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Canvas Preparation:

With the plywood cut and shaped into the curve I then covered the wood with a 12oz heavy weight cotton canvas. To attach the canvas I used neat PVA glue which was painted onto the wood and then the canvas stretched over it and firmly rubbed into place. For the large centre section the three pieces of plywood needed to be covered with one single piece of canvas to eliminate any seams and also allow it to be folded together so it can be easily transported. The two side pieces were also covered in a single piece of canvas, however the canvas was about 2cm too short to cover the whole length of the side so I had to attach another smaller section. The extra canvas I added to the top of the wood so that the seam will be less obvious when the canvas is up on the wall. The lesson learned here is that when you think you are buying enough canvas, buy more.

Some of the joint on the large section are also causing some problems. As the canvas was put on the wood it started to bow slightly as it was damp and due to space and size restriction I did not have a large enough table to be able to support the whole piece. The bowing has cause the wood seams to not lie completely flat, I am hoping that this will be able to be rectified either when it is attached to the wall or by removing and relacing some of the canvas strips I put along the back of the wood to strengthen the join, which could also be adding to the problem.

Primed Canvas

With the canvas in place I primed it using a watered down, to the consistency of milk, acrylic paint which once dry meant I could start sketching up the design. My original plan was to grid up using some thread which would help to scale the drawing up. In the end I decided to draw it out free hand as the design is so loose it would not matter if it was not an 100% copy of the smaller design. I first drew it out in pencil and then went over it with a waterey blue paint to consolidate the line as there were a few incorrect marks that I did not want to create a problem when it comes to painting.

Sketched out design

Sketched out design
 On one of the sample pieces I used polyfiller to create some texture. I wanted to keep this technique for the final piece, however I needed something that would be flexible for when the canvas is folded. I thought of using some Rosco Crystal Gel which is something I used on work experience to add texture,  but a lack of supplies meant I had to use something else. Finally I used some Flexbond, which is a strong glue like substance. It was a really nice product to use as it was easy to apply with a pallet knife and not as thick as polyfiller which meant I could dribble it from a height to make some really interesting marks.

Flexbond Texture

Flexbond Texture

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Further Designs:

I have produced some further designs to explore some more ideas. The basic design is the same, but with some variations of colour. I was concerned that beacuse the design was mainly in blue and green tones it laked interest. I repeated the design adding some yellow and orange tones to parts of the piece as one of my samples also included these colours. I felt that the yellow brightened up the piece a little more. At the moment I am unsure whether I will use the yellow in the design or not. I think I will have to make the decsion one I start painting so I can assess how it looks on a larger scale.

Spray Gun Sample:

I produced a further sample using the spray gun so that I could experiment with the colours, consistency of the paint and the techniques. I used a light, mid and dark tone of blue along with a white, which I mixed with some matt glaze and then watered down to the consistency of milk, so that it does not block the gun. I found this technique very simple but affective as the colours and tone can be easily built up and blended together. This also allowed me to experiment with painted texture as I had prepared the canvas with some polyfiller to add some more interest to the piece. At first I was unsure if the texture work or even made any difference to the painting, however once the painting was complete I thought the texture looked really good as it created tone and shadding, whereas the areas without texture looked quite flat.

Spray Sample


None textured

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Technical Drawings:

When measuring the window I put all the dimensions straight onto Auto CAD to try and avoid any mistakes occurring when transferring the data. Putting it straight into CAD also made it easier to spot any mistakes or errors in the measurements and allowed me to correct any mistakes as I went along. To measure the window I had to come over some height difficulties as the window is above the door to the church, so heath and safety was also a large consideration. I just  worked across the window methodically using mid point and known lengths to help calculate the other measurments, such as the gradient of the curve. Once I had all the measurements I took 5mm off each side, 1cm in total across the width and the height, so that when the frame is made it will defiantly fit in the space.

Measurements 1:1

Measurements 1:25

The frame is made out of 3x2 CLS timber which is stronger than a standard 2x4, as it is sturdier less cross supports are needed. This also keeps the overall cost down as the timber is £1.08 per meter. The whole frame is made up out of 8 individual frames, 2 make up each side panel and 4 make the large centre piece at a total of approximately 45metres of timber. I found making the basic frames simple enough to construct as they are very similar to a simple canvas frame and the flats we made during the set build in the first year. The main part I struggled with was constructing the curve as it is made out of 3 sections on each frame which all need to be cut and angled to exactly the right size as each piece is cut at a different angle.  I found that I just had to take my time a check very carefully before cutting, as it is better to cut something too big and trim it down rather than cutting it completely wrong in the first place. To screw the frame together some of the screws around the curve had to go in at an angle, which also created some problems as I was having trouble making them go all the way in and lie flush with the timber, so I did have to re-screw some parts before getting it right When all the frames had been made I found that one of the large frames for the middle section was not completely square, to rectify this I used some plywood triangles that were glued and then screwed to the corners of the frames to keep them at a right angle. If the frames are not completely square then it will not fit properly into the window. I also had to add another cross bar on the two bottom frames so that the plywood coverings can be nailed to them.

Frame Construction
Added Supports

When I originally started making the frames I was planning on just making some very large canvases with the frame and the canvas attached before I painted it, which could then be placed on the wall. However this means that it would be too heavy and too big to get into the church and attached to the wall in one go, additionally the  frames would also be too big to fit through the doors. To overcome this problem the plywood that will also be covered with a 12oz cotton canvas will be kept separate while they are being painted and then attached to the frames once they are in place in the church. The larger section will be covered in three 4x8 plywood sheets that can be folded in to allow it to be transported easily. To cut the curve of the window I used a strip of plywood to draw out the curve and then used the jigsaw to cut it.

Timber Frame
plywood Flat

Thursday, 5 May 2011


I have started to do some painting samples to try out different styles and techniques. One is done using just paint brushes and acrylic paint and has quite a strong bold affect. I like this style, but I think that it is a little too bold as it is meant to symbolise air and wind it would ideally be a little softer.

Paint Brush Technique
The second sample I did using a small roller and a sponge to try and achieve a softer more subtle air like affect. I also like this technique and think it would work well on the final piece.

Roller Technique
I have also been experimenting with adding texture using polyfiller and surface filler to create a more interesting affect. This is a technique that I used during my work placement and found it really affective, especially from a distance. Another technique I used on work placement was using a spray gun, which is something I would like to try out on the third sample. The spray gun will create an even softer and subtle affect than the roller as the colours can be more seamlessly blended. As well as doing a sample I also have to do some research into portable spray guns, as I will be potentially painting on location at the church I would need to have access to an air compressor. However if this is not possible I will use the roller technique.



Once I had produced some initial design ideas and chose the stylistic aspects I wanted in the final design I then started to consolidate my ideas. I decided to use a dove as the main christian symbol within the piece. I wanted the painting to suggest a dove tearing through the sky to earth. I decided upon quite a stylised dove as the whole piece is quite abstract, so a realistic dove would look out of place. The rest of the drawing I wanted to represent Gods Holy Spirit coming to earth like a dove. I am hoping to achieve a sense of movement and something ripping through the air like when a space shuttle re-enters the atmosphere. I am keeping the palette to blues and green as these are natural colours that work well together, also the walls of the church are painted a very pale green so it will work subtly with the whole colour scheme of the room. The church also has red chairs which will create a nice contrast.

 I produced a variety of drawings playing around mainly with the composition and positioning of the dove. Once the dove is in position then the rest of the drawing fits around where it is placed. I finally decided upon placing the dove in the bottom right corner so that the drawing filled the majority of space available. I made sure to draw the design in 1:12 scale so it will be simple to scale the drawing up for the final piece.

Final Design

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Initial Design Ideas/ Concepts:

I have started by producing some basic design ideas to explore possible styles, techniques, colours and compositions. I have taken the majority of my influence from the work of Sister Mary Stephen CRSS, whose work I really like and admire. I want to try and emulate the way she suggests Christian theology, stories and God through her drawings. I often find the design process the most challenging part of a project, so this coupled with the fact that the piece has to be meaningful and thought provoking for the people who attend the church has meant that I need to take even more into consideration when designing. Also as this piece is not just for my own personal gain, but will be displayed for other people I want it to appeal to a wide range of people. I do not want the piece to just be a random semi religious picture, I want it to be able to be seen as an aid to worship and something people can use to inspire their own faith. I have also decided to make the piece quite abstract and modern, rather than a old style traditional painting so hopefully it will help bring the church into the 21st century.

Although I am unsure exactly what I want in the design I have given myself some parameters.  Despite being the most well known christian symbol I am not putting a cross in the design as Hurstpierpoint Methodist Church already has a cross on the communion table and on the wall at the front of the church, so I think for the mural to have a further cross would just be too much. Therefore I have been looking at designs that feature different religious symbols.

During the design process I was reminded of a painting I saw in the Methodist Art Collection which featured a dove, so I tried putting a dove into some of the pictures. I really liked how the dove worked within the piece, it is as though the dove (representing the holy spirit) is descending  upon the earth like when Jesus was baptised the Bible says that the spirit descended on him like a dove. I also tried a design with the dove ascending, although the composition of this looked good it did not speak of God or the holy spirit as it suggests that the spirit is leaving the earth.