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

 The colour areas of the mural have come along, and I have had some good weather.  One day of last week was crazy….The sun kept popping in and out, and I not only had short, sharp, showers of rain, but some hailstones too!  This made me very glad to have the bubblewrap protective layer…It also meant that I could carry on painting even in the rain, as it was so light and transparent that it didn’t get in the way at all, and I had plenty of light.  It even took the chill out of the air…All in all, it made quite a cosy working environment!  

I’m going to avoid sharing an image of the design for now….mainly because even when the main linear elements are done, the mural won’t be in it’s final state until the cartoons have reaped their havoc with it!  The image here shows most of the main colour areas.  The remaining area (the ships base) will be carried out during the next stage of painting, with a couple more enthusiastic children to assist with the process.  I will post some images of the children working soon, but consent is needed first before publishing on the internet.

The Mural

The mural design is based loosely on the work of the painter
Piet Mondrian.    Over time, his painting
developed  away from the  representational  becoming increasingly more abstract.  He narrowed down the elements of the image
further and further until in the end he produced   geometric paintings which were comprised of
coloured rectangles intersected and divided by a flat grid of black lines.   Mondrian’s importance in art history lies in
his development of “pure” abstraction.
The mural design shows two sailing ships; one on the left, which heads
straight towards the viewer, and one on the right, which is perpendicular to
it. The ships are arranged like this to symbolise Nelson’s battle tactic for
the battle of Trafalgar; instead of conducting the battle so that his ships
approached the enemy ships face on, (as was the more common, traditional,
approach) he decided to get his ships to approach the enemy ships from a right
angle, perpendicular to the enemy ships. This meant they could break into the
enemy lines, cutting off and overwhelming the enemy centre and rear, before
their vanguard (leading ships) could turn and assist.

Because schools are ever changing, constantly growing and
developing communities, I felt it was important to suggest a sense of process
in the mural and this is  suggested in
the ever increasing oval shapes, which start small from the right hand side,  and get bigger near the front of the ship:  Trafalgar is a place of growth and
development, of each person’s potential having the opportunity to become
realised more fully, and of having the structure and  support needed in order for that to happen.  I have also depicted in light grey an
indication of the underlying grid on which the design was constructed, in order
to suggest the idea of a work in progress.

Some of the children’s cartoons will liven the whole thing up!

An important part of
the project will be educational input with regard to the reasons for and value
of using ecologically friendly paints, and in particular the unique qualities
of silicate mineral paint, which has been developed over the years into a very versatile and exciting paint.  I would like to thank
Keim Mineral Paints Ltd, in particular for their prompt and helpfully delivered technical
support, and the provision of information  and printed and presentation materials , all
of which have been particularly helpful  in enhancing the educational dimension of the
project. The mural will be coated with the Keim anti-graffiti coating, which is just what I was looking for.
I would also like to thank Mike Wye and Associates for technical advice and assistance. Cornish Lime were also helpful in this respect.

Colour areas of the mural in progress

After a considerable amount of planning and thought, now the mural project for Trafalgar Junior School is more tangibly underway. Both good and bad experiences of customer services with suppliers has been an education in itself, but I am glad to, FINALLY (after some delay), be able to push the work ahead.  John T Freeman delivered some excellent cartooning workshops to groups of children in the school, and I understand that the children who received the benefit of his skill and expertise in the matter are now passing it on to other groups of children too. I must say, the children’s work is amazing, and I can see very distinctly the way in which John’s input has influenced their drawing skills and powers of expression, resulting in work which is lively and original.  John was also interviewed during assembly, and shared with the children many things about his work as an artist, showing some of his work, and also bringing along a few interesting objects to talk about.  Both the assembly and the workshops were thoroughly enjoyed by the children. 

I’m currently working on some educational materials for the project with regard to the ecological issues which are an important part of the whole thing.  Yes, I love the paint, aesthetically it pleases me so much I chose it for that, but not that alone.  It’s a great opportunity for the children to learn about paint as part of their environmental studies, and if I had more time, I would probably do a lot more in this area.  However, for now,  I will put together a few materials,  some samples of different types of paint, ideas, visual resources, that type of thing.  

Some examples of children’s work from the cartooning workshops by John T Freeman:

All the children’s cartooning looks fantastic,  and looking at their work, I want to spend some time talking to them about it, because it all looks very interesting!

Today the children are having  John T Freeman, into school.  He’ll be interviewed during assembly and the children will learn about his work as an artist and why he does what he does.  John will also be doing some workshops with the children on cartooning…I can’t wait to see their work!  I’ll post some images up shortly.  The children’s work will be used by John in the latter stages of the mural painting.  John will be adapting and composing their images which will populate the mural, and bring some life to it.   Some of the children will also be doing some activities  which centre around ecological considerations…Basically exploring the question “Why Are We Using Natural Paint?”  The children involved in the painting will also learn more about paint and painting from me, about pigments, colours, types of paint, whatever they are interested in.

I’m currently still making decisions about colours, but most of the planning work is done now.  Here’s some images of the project so far….

Using the computer and a grid for constructing templates

Mural Planning Using A Computer To Assist

 
 
Materials, Equipment, and A Messy Studio - Jenny Meehan

Using natural paints for this mural has basically converted me!

 
 
Experimenting with Different Tones and Colour Combinations at the Design Stage

A balancing act of colour in progress

 

A lot of my oil paintings from the most excellent “Landscape and Figure Painting in Oils –  The British Tradition” course by John T Freeman are not finished but there are a few I have finished mulling over, so here is one of them which has undergone the necessary process of being sent through the computer for viewing over the internet.  John T Freeman is one of the most gifted teachers I have had the good privilege to have stumbled upon.  West Dean College and Gardens is  a great place, and I love meeting people dearly, and there are so many people who love artistic expression, it’s all a bit heavenly.  Yes, I am missing it.   It is a privilege to go there too.

Thankfully, next year, though I will not be able to attend the Summer School at West Dean (It is a hefty chunk of cash!) I have £100 off voucher due to the West Dean College “Loyal Lobster Scheme”.  I am saving a bit each month and along with that I will be able to participate in another course next year.  I have wanted to work with lino printing for a couple of years.  My photographic work has over the course of time leant further and further in the direction of blocks of rich colour and I would like to explore this direction using a different printing process to that of photographic reproduction. One that opens up some new possibilities.   And ink… I did try it out this year at the West Dean Summer School in a taster session, and it was POWERFUL stuff! I did not like the smell or the consistency, so maybe that does not bode well, but the COLOUR!  I do feel I want to continue the strands which have emerged from my photographic art, and this is certainly one of them.  I think it’s going to be a useful tool for some interesting work in the future.

One of my experiments carried out at West Dean College, 2010

I am exploring many exciting and interesting ways of manipulating paint and it is opening up lots of expressive opportunities.

 

Take a look at Jenny Meehan’s website jamartlondon  to see some of her more recent work!  http://www.jamartlondon.com/

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