Friday, January 7, 2011

From The Vault - Wall Mural Color Sketch 1995

Geez, it's been a busy week again and it seems all the artistic flow I have has left me and I am stuck grinding out art simply because I have to. I'm not sure if you could hold two pieces of mine up next to each other and tell which one was easy for me and which one was a struggle. But it does make for a long week of beating your head against the art desk.

I even had at least two blog posts I planned on getting up this week. But, when I looked up from my desk I realized, "hey, how did it get to be Friday again so quickly??" So those other posts will have to wait. It's From the Vault Friday!

I did this piece back in 1995 when I was bartending at a restaurant in New Jersey called The Terra Marr. It had a sort of island theme to it and we all wore Hawaiian shirts. The guy who hired me knew I did art and knew I worked for Marvel Comics so he was continuously asking me if I could do some sort of work around the restaurant. Jumping at the chance to paint on a canvas that was larger than my art desk at home I came up with a few different projects we might do.

The first thing I did was some simple lettering above the second bar room. What I originally envisioned for the colors was shot down after I painted it and I had to make some changes. It was one of the first times that I really knew I should have done some sort of thumbnail piece to show the guy before I went to the finished piece. It would have saved me a lot of time and a little embarrassment. It was a lesson I still hold onto closely.

The second idea I had for the restaurant was to do a giant mural on this one big blank white wall. It had a fish tank cut right into the wall so I thought it might be a great idea to paint some sort of underwater world. It would fit with the theme of the restaurant, look cool, and might impress a certain someone I was chasing at the time. You see, at this time I was very much infatuated with a girl who was a huge Wyland fan. Wyland is the famous artist who paints all sorts of undersea life and does a beautiful job.

So, of course, being young, I figured if I did an amazing art job in a Wyland like style, how could she resist me? It's funny the things we think will make girls like us when we're young. Silly boys.

So, I started thinking of how to do a Wyland type painting on this wall, incorporate the fish tank, do a great job, and win the girl.

But, learning from the lettering job I did for the restaurant, I did this color thumbnail sketch first.

I think I originally did the pencils on tracing paper and made a simple photocopy of the sketch onto regular paper. I then airbrushed the whole copy with a blue gradation. After, I sat down with some watercolors and mixed the paint and airbrush to create some simple colors. Finally, I added some white to the whole piece. When it was done I mounted the copy onto a piece of heavy illustration board and showed it to my boss.

He loved it and wanted to know when I could start. I told him I was still waiting to be paid for the materials and labor from the simple lettering job I'd completed and I'd wait until I was paid for the previous job before I started the new one.

Well, to make a long story short, within two or three months the restaurant failed, I lost the bartending job, I was never paid for the lettering job, and I didn't win the girl. By early the next year my jeep was packed and I was on the road out of New Jersey on my way to Colorado.

But, at least I still have this great color sketch that I'm still really proud of.

And the girl still talks to me. Those are her kids in the blog post right below us.


rob! said...

Loved this piece. In the words of Irwin Hasen, "Add Aquaman to it!"

Sean Tiffany said...

now THAT might have won me the girl! ha ha

steeni said...

do you know to this day i still have a copy of this piece in my living room in a coffee table book? by the way, I had no idea :D