8.31.2014

Where the Wild Things Are mural, Or, My Rumpus Room

A couple of busy days and I have mural number two done.  You may recognize the subject.

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Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak is in our top ten favorite children's books.  Boy child in particular identified hugely with Wild Things.  That probably goes without explanation.  I remember reading Wild Things with girl child when she was a toddler and we were both, 'What?  This doesn't even make sense,' but after boy child was born, I reread the book to him and thought, 'Yes, this is exactly it.' 

There are a couple of shelves in the middle of the mural that previously existed on the chosen wall space. I dithered for a bit on whether to keep them or not, but ultimately remembered that I live in a small house and the only real consideration is practicality.  I need to put stuff someplace; the shelves stayed. 

Here is girl child with the mural sans shelves for a bit of scale:

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The original illustration from Wild Things was a bit more intense than what I put on the wall. I simplified the scene, eliminating references to Max's room undergoing transformation into a forest.  It seems to me that I was already in a room, what I wanted to do was capture the transformation of the domestic into the wild.  That is, indeed, where we are going with our theme for the next year.

I also wanted to keep any colours I put on the wall in bright jewel tones, simply because I live in Canada and our winters tend to be long and dreary and a spot of cheerful colour on the wall is always welcome, even necessary, come January, for mental health reasons.The colours on the wall are both brighter and bolder than the copy of Wild Things that we have. 

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I didn't take many in progress pictures since, frankly, I had no idea what I was doing and the tentative nature of my work kept me from documenting too much.  I spent a lot of zen like time just experiencing brush strokes and colour.  Mural work is an entirely different beast than my usual medium.  I found it complicated in the sense that I was trying to see it both up close and far away at the same time.  Kind of like trying to see both the old woman and the young lady simultaneously in a certain well known optical illusion

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In the end, the mural looks much simpler than it felt to paint.  I love the clean cartoony elements of this illustration.  It puts me in mind of lavish Flintstone-esque illustrations of prehistoric times.  We try hard not to take ourselves too seriously around here. 

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As it turns out, much to my relief, once the shelves are on and the couch moved back into place the mural does not dominate the room but fits in like it was meant to be.  I was worried about taking on this second large piece that it would take over our small living room and limit our possibilities. As it is, it sits opposite of our large black chalkboard wall and the two together seem to balance the room quite well.

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"No, no. No photographs please without my agent's permission."

My favorite bit, of course, is Max.  Specifically, his wolf suit tail.  I must tell you that putting those first few strokes of paint on the wall to do this character took balls, for lack of a better phrase. It was scary.  I'm so pleased he turned out to display all the devilish mischief that he embodies and isn't an embarrassingly huge smeary black mark.  There was a time when I wasn't sure how he was going to turn out. 

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The next few projects on the list include some very boring wall painting of the hallway and bedroom but then I'm going to turn the paint brushes over to the childs so they can start putting their mark on our Into the Woods home. 

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8.30.2014

and now for something completely different

Or maybe not.  Here is boy child's interpretation of our Into the Woods theme in mask.  Into the Woods apparently means flat-out scary.

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The skeletal base of the mask is a paper form found at a local craft store.  Boy child fashioned horns from paperclay and added in the implement that, as the storyline goes (masks always have a story) was an injury incurred during one of his skirmishes with the local villager's mob.  He finished the mask with several coats of acrylic paint.  I swear, I do not let him watch zombie movies, horror thrillers and we, as family, have never participated in a satanic ritual. 

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Boy child is rather pleased with his mask.  He would also like me to point out that he also dyed his shirt himself. 

The mask is held on by an elastic I salvaged from a pair of cast of pants (adjustable elastic, you silly pointless stuff my children hate).  In theory, the mask should be able to fit almost anyone's head.  I sewed a button on to loop the elastic on.

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I've gotten a few steps into my next mural.  Already I can tell it's not my favorite - too specific, too much someone else's style.  But I haven't added in the main feature yet, so perhaps I'll change my mind.  Pictures to come soon!

8.29.2014

black tree mural

Done!  Or done enough so that I feel like I can move on. 

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This is in my tiny dining nook, the little bit of space separated from my living room by a pony wall.  The best part of this is how the tree sits in the corner and hides how the corner angles up all wonky.  Ha!  Take that, crooked house: I win this round.

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Funny how you really don't notice stuff until after you take the picture.  Now that I've noticed how much the blind turn-y thingee sticks out, it's driving me nuts.

Anyhoo, mural.  Lookit that rock.  I think that's a good rock.  As I mentioned last post, I was hoping that this would appear to resemble an old fashioned charcoal drawing from a children's book.  What it reminds me of now, though, almost entirely because of the rock, is a Calvin and Hobbes illustration.  Perhaps this winter we should add a few snow goons?

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I have the next mural project started too.  Overhead projector transparency prepared (the transparency is a plastic binder display sleeve cut in half, but it works just as well), the intended wall cleared, washed, filled, sanded, painted and... well, now I've got to go parent or something.   Tomorrow is another day and, hopefully, the wild rumpus may begin...

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8.28.2014

living in a crooked house

We have this kooky plan for the next year.  We're thinking, since we live in a small and clownishly dimensioned house, we should embrace our ridiculousness and turn our home into theatre.  Or art.  What is life if not unscripted performance art anyway?

It was not hard to convince the childs to see our home as a stage.  But now what we need is some scenery and props.

To set some parameters, we thought we would pick a theme, something that appeals to all of us and has both natural and supernatural elements, and a deadline.  Next year, August, we plan to remove all our props and paint the walls to prepare for a new theme.  Or maybe some neutral time?  Anyway, nobody has to be too dedicated to any particular aesthetic in the house because a year from now it'll be gone.  Hopefully it will be a creatively freeing experience and we'll all get to practice some little used skills.

Like mural painting.

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Some inspirations to use for our theme, Into the Woods.  I know that there is a play by that name and a movie being released soon also, but that's not exactly what we mean.  We are embracing the Grimm and Gothic woodland and all the dark and fantastic elements that implies, with a heavy leaning on literary references.  Because I like literary references.

We've been talking about this for a few weeks now and with the home school year officially starting next week, I thought I'd get us going with a bit of woodland ambiance in our dining cubby.

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This is one of those times when having an overhead projector laying around is pretty handy.  The tree drawing is loosely based on an illustration by John Tenniel from Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass.  As you'll see, when I got it on the wall, it deviated from the original quickly.

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First, though, boy child freshened the paint for me.

Then, with a deep breath, I started tracing and filling out the tree.

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The idea was to create a look of a charcoal sketch reminiscent of older children's books, from the days when colour printing was prohibitively expensive and books were printed with just one or two colours.  So it's going to be a bit retro.  Hopefully.

Though I love the creepy elements of Grimm, Gorey and Poe, all influences for this theme, I wanted to keep our eating/learning/crafting/everything area uplifting and bright.   

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Don't judge me too harshly (I'll do that!), it is my first mural ever.  I sort of wish I had stuck to the overhead drawing more carefully, but on the other hand, the point of all this is to try things out.  It's also nasty to try to paint a round thing over a corner.  What was I thinking?  Oh, I know, to hide the super crooked wall.

Stage two of the mural is painting the background.  Perhaps it should of been stage one? 

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I've got another coat to do and some touch ups before I declare this particular base done. Tomorrow.  And the day after, who knows what we will add.  I will tell you now, though, that the rock is my favorite part and how it actually looks like a charcoal sketch.  Go me!

8.20.2014

crows

When we first moved to our house just over three years ago, every evening a procession of crows would trickle right over top of our house on their way to their roosting trees. The crows would literally be flying in a haphazard line overhead for two hours every sunset. I grew quite charmed of this way of marking time.

The year after the crows seemed to have picked a new path a block or two over so I missed out at home. But the crow trail did go alongside the road that I drove several times a week to go to derby practice. At stop lights I could watch the crows fly past.

This summer, I've been left completely bereft of the evening procession. The crows have been infrequent visitors, while the magpies (and skunks!) have taken over the trees outside my windows.  Hardly a crow to see.

Until this week.

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I'm not terribly familiar with crow behavior but they do indeed seem to be doing some seasonal gathering about the neighborhood.

There are murders.  Everywhere. 

Perhaps because the babies are about grown, they are reforming social groups?  I don't know but I did take out a couple books from the library and plan to find out more tonight.

While I was outside today, reading Rise of the Huntress, Joseph Delaney's seventh book in his creepy The Last Apprentice series, I'm marveling, a bit worriedly, about the massing of crows about me, when I turn the page to this chapter heading illustration:

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I love it when my landscapes, inside and out, conspire to agree.

I failed, however, to get a picture of the larger murders, they being tricky and ever moving.  The crows definitely seem restless and ever moving.  I will be stalking them as the week progresses, though.  I do, in fact, know where they sleep.  

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In the meanwhile, I set out some crow friendly foodstuff (but no battlefield fodder, I don't want to give the neighbors a reason to call in the bylaw officers), in the hopes that a crow might take notice of me and want to train me to fetch a ball for it or serve it expensive water, if I show willing and sufficient intelligence.   

And now I finish my book.

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