Well, it is finished!

John T Freeman selected some of the children’s work and arranged the composition of the cartoons on the mural.  He copied the children’s work closely so it retained the original’s quality, and we agreed to add a cat and a rat to bring a little movement into play.  Keim Contact Grobb was used under the cartoons to bring a little texture to the surface, though at this point the uneven nature of the surface did seem quite a challenge!  (Unfortunately I was not able to get permission for the wall to be rendered, which would have been the ideal scenerio).

Keim Contact Grobb was then coated with Keim Soldalit in a very light grey, and John used the same Keim Soldalit in Charcoal Grey for the linear parts of the cartoons.  I had previously busied myself with the thicker lines, which I opted to give a slightly fuzzy edge to, as it wasn’t workable to try and achieve sharp edges on such a rough wall, and optically, there was very little point in doing that anyway.  The soft edges worked very well with what are radiant, and yet gentle colours. 

 The colours are getting a lot of comments already;  people do seem to pick up on the particular quality of the mineral paint used, even though the surface changed from totally matt to a very slight sheen  after coating with the Keim Anti-Graffiti Coating.  The cartoons are also providing a lot of enjoyment, and the children will be having a competition soon to come up with a name for the mural.  John T Freeman and myself will enjoy looking at those I am sure. 

Some of the children are working on mural and mineral paint related activities at the school with the Art Co-ordinator, who I hope is taking some photographs which I can post up here later on!  Keim were fantastic in providing some very interesting information about Keim mineral paints, the history, and technical information, and I was also able to provide some materials on colour theory and design which should come in handy. Though I worked on this project voluntarily, I have to say, as an experience, it was well worth the effort and I hope to do something similar in the future.

It’s so important that our children learn about different kinds of materials and what the advantages and disadvantages are…I do think that through the project they have been able to experience using natural paint in a very relevant and creative way.  It’s been a great project, and I only wish I had more time available to do more of this kind of thing.  I do have another mural on the horizon,  and it will be very good to use what has been learnt through this one for the next.  I am also making a short video of the whole process to pop up on You Tube.  It hasn’t got anything that isn’t common sense on it, but it might prove helpful to another school who maybe would like to work with mineral silicate paint for an ecologically friendly mural at some time. 

John T Freeman’s website:  www.johntfreeman.co.uk

Jenny Meehan’s website: www.jennymeehan.co.uk

Video of Mural Project:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Je8SouQNIs0

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Rain, Rain,Rain.

I just want to put the final coating of Keim 694 Waterbased semi-permanent anti-graffiticoating ON THE MURAL.  It’s sitting here in front of me, but cannot be used “if rain could fall within 5 to 6 hours”.  The way the last few days have been going, all my expected times and days have melted into the ground and evaporated!  I haven’t even seen the mural since John last came in to finish the cartoons, so I haven’t even seen it finished yet!  Hopefully one day next week….

Once I have coated the mural with the anti-graffiticoating, I will be working on a presentation on the whole process for the school.  And then the work really will be finished.  I have to say a really big thank you to Keim Mineral Paints again for their part in the project, which in the end turned out to be very significant, because I found their silica-sol paint “Soldalit” of great use for the linear parts of the painting, and John used this for the cartoons too.   I now intend to continue to use Soldalit for other exterior murals I paint, as the colour range is fantastic, and though I like to mix up my own colours, (as I did for the colour areas of the Trafalgar Mural, using the Beeck Full Colour mineral paints), it does save a lot of time if the colours are already mixed.

I’ve learnt a lot from this project….

1.  I love and hate the weather, but it’s kind of nice to be subject to it. 

2. Some companies have great customer service, and others need to improve.  However great, you can only build on the foundations below you.  That means, every little person matters.

3.When you paint murals on party walls, it can take a long time and a lot of effort to get permission to do so, but if you use a porus silicate mineral paint, there is no good reason for refusal, as the wall can “breath”, so no damp issues arise.

4. Don’t assume anything

5. Children are worth working with.  My thanks to the lovely children who painted with me, and to all those wonderful artists who produced such amazing cartoons under the expert and sensitive guidance of John T Freeman.  If the mural was bigger, all the cartoons would be in the mural…every single one.

6. It will ALWAYS take longer than you think, and extensive preparation, including research, is always worth it.

7.  The composition has to be right.  If it’s not, don’t bother. 

8.  Silicate Mineral Paint offers the best colour quality possible, far superior to acrylic paint in terms of its ability to reflect light.   Having spent hours looking at the difference, I have no doubt in my mind about this matter. It’s beautiful.  It is more demanding to use, but it’s worth it.

9. Take the rough with the smooth…In this case, quite literally.  The wall surface was rough!  Painting straight lines on such a surface doesn’t make much sense, but as they say, “where there’s a will, there’s a way” and nothing’s impossible.

10. Give generously, receive generously.

It might seem a bit early to put this down, but as the rain is stopping me from going any further, I might as well do this now.  I would like in the future to put together something on practical techniques for mural painting with silicate mineral paints to help others who might consider using this type of paint for exterior or interior murals, but to be honest, I have so much happening right now I cannot see myself being able to do this for sometime.  I now have work to sort out for exhibition at the Rose Theatre in October, Gallery 63 in September, The CornerHOUSE in December and later on Leatherhead theatre in May 2012, which is great, but means the mural work has to stop for a while.  I am working on a mural in a garden, just a simple grey and white one  .I would like to do another exterior mural at the school later next year.  I’m also in the process of applying for the Artists Access to University Scheme, at Kingston University in order to develop my practice.  That should be enough for now,  plus running the house, and all that domestic bliss!  

By way of a little deviation, some images of other things I have been creating!

 

 

 

I can’t resist the odd photograph now and again.  

Pencil sketch done at West Dean College during last stay recently

Another part of the journey....

 

Well, finally I have some images to post up. Better late than never, as they say!

Thankfully with a great team working together, we covered the prepared wall with the Beeck Quartz Filler quite rapidly.  It is quite time consuming, mostly because of the dabbing action needed for such a bumpy surface, but we loved using the paint.

It was Mufti Day when we painted on the bridging primer, and so, as you can see, there is not a uniform in sight.  Just as well really as the paint did tend to go in unexpected places….I have to say, not because the painters were not being sensible, its just the paint seemed to have a life of its own!

I have to say I was very impressed with how quickly those painters who worked with me picked up the way to control the paint…It is quite runny and it’s more like a stain, and so they sure did need to know how to control it!

The decking was very comfortable to sit on, and as you can see, we used rubber gloves to protect our hands and plastic goggles too.  There’s nothing unsafe or toxic about the paint, it’s just very alkaline and I know from experience that it dries out your skin, and can sting, though I didn’t find this much with the paint, it was more just the fixative alone.  In a school setting we have to do things properly though, and the goggles meant that there were no worries with regard to paint splashing in eyes.  However, to be honest, one has to manipulate the paint in such a way that you wouldn’t tend to splash it about anyway.

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Edit note:  My old website http://www.jennymeehan.co.uk is no longer living, so if you would like to see what I am doing currently, then please follow the link to my new website which is http://www.jamartlondon.com.   www.jamartlondon.com

 

Quite missing the mural, having not painted anything on it for a while.  A bit of a gap now in progress, but more to be done over the Summer holidays.  I am very pleased that Keim Mineral Paints Ltd in the UK have kindly donated some charcoal grey Soldalit, which has solved a problem for me, as the Beeck Full Colour black plus white was a very bluey black, and not exactly what I wanted.  I could have fiddled around with it, but it’s all time.

I have decided to coat the mural, when finished, with  another useful product from Keim Mineral Paints “Keim 694” which is a waterbased semi-permanent anti-graffiti coating, based on acryl co-polymers and waxes.  The advantage for me is that it is not solvent based, which I prefer, and also that it may be applied by brush.  It needs two coats. It also comes with with plenty of information with regard to aftercare. The paint is hydro-phobic without a coating,  and though it takes a while to fully petrify, it will indeed go rock hard.  However, as the mural is in a playground, I felt it wise to use the coating on it.

I have to say, I cannot fault the customer service received from Keim Mineral Paints Ltd, and this is very refreshing, having experienced some dreadful customer service earlier on in the process of the mural.  Unfortunately, I understand from several painters in my locality, that is is common for women not to be treated as professionally as they should be by some suppliers in the construction industry.  This was not something I have come across before, and  it was rather a disappointment, and certainly not something I expected.  Keim Mineral Paints have  delivered excellent customer service, and the range of modern silicates, each with their specific applications, is quite amazing. I’m very pleased, and I hasten to add, this is not because of the donated paint… It’s because of the good and sound business policies clearly in place which treat both the big and small customer with the same amount of respect, treat women professionally, and put the customer first.  Any business which wants to grow in this current economic climate needs to take customer service very seriously, and the intelligent ones will do exactly that.

Well, it’s a great advantage to be able to touch type, and to be able to do so very quickly!  However, I need to get on, so next blog entry will be  a while away now.  I understand that one child put on his end of year review form that working on the mural was the highlight of his year.  That’s why painter’s should be in schools engaging with the next generation of artists.  And, our society does need artists, as much as we need air to breath.

 

Well, this Tuesday was another fine day with respect to the weather (unlike today!).   The wall we are painting the mural on is thankfully not exposed to direct sunlight in the mornings, which means we don’t have to worry about the paint drying too quickly. Not really an issue for this layer, but when we do the colours it could be.   On Tuesday, myself and my team of two boys and two girls from Trafalgar  painted the first layer of BEECK Quartz Filler, a bridging primer, over the surface of the wall.  I couldn’t have done it without them, and what a great team they were.  We talked about the paint and the ingredients, and the children loved using the paint.  They loved the smell, which is like toothpaste, and as we were using the bottoms of plastic milk cartons as containers, the paint was then referred to as “milk”.  They even missed some of their playtime and wanted to carry on for the rest of the morning! We had a great time.  Ideally I would have liked the wall to be rendered first, but this was not allowed, and would have cost more money too.  The bridging primer does give some smoothness to the surface, but it’s still quite uneven.  However, having seen several other murals on the net with silicate on brick,  this doesn’t worry me, not for this simple design anyway.

Such was the enthusiastic response that I realise, with hindsight, that the children’s painting shirts were not really sufficient protection, (!!) and I just hope those parents will forgive me for their children coming home with evidence of their painting activities still intact on their clothing.  I think it should come out easily though…there’s no acrylic or anything which would make it hard to get out of clothing.  The children also wore rubber gloves and goggles for protection (I’m not sure the goggles were really that necessary, but they looked rather scientific!)  I’ll post some images up soon.

By the end of the morning the whole area was covered.  Everyone worked really hard and enjoyed the process.  Amazing work!  Over the half term I’ll be marking up some of the design and then some of the children will help me with the colour areas.  The paint takes a good 12 hours to dry enough for a second coat, and it seems to take a couple of weeks to fully harden, (based on samples at home) but there’s no rush.  I’ve worked out the colours, apart from one which I can’t decide on.  I’ll be painting the design on a smaller scale on paper over the half term and post it up here soon.  I’m also thinking about some activities that the children might like to participate in related to colour theory and design, which can be used if required by the school.

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