Drum roll please!
Here she is:
Medium: Mixed media; primarily acrylic paint, but there is some marker and colored pencil.
Size: The main mural is 64 square feet and the Wyoming mural is 20 square feet.
When: July and August 2014
Purpose: To brighten up the library and to promote my art.
Time to complete: Preparing the wall was about 10 hours. Painting the mural was between 30-35 hours.
Thought process: Once I had the library board’s approval for doing this mural and which wall they wanted it on, I began browsing the internet to see what other libraries had done for murals. I knew I wanted something with books and various characters, but couldn’t exactly use licensed characters due to copyright infringement. One mural I saw had various sections, and dividing two of the sections was this really cool swirly design. It made me think of book pages flipping, which is how the big book part of the mural came to be.
Originally I had four sections of the mural: children’s books, nonfiction, and classics, but the fourth section was blank and I couldn’t think of anything else to go in there. Nothing seemed right, so I changed the design to the three sections that you see today.
Also, in the first concept design for the children’s section, I had a lamp post in there for the Chronicles of Narnia. I was afraid that people may confuse that with the gaslights in the Wyoming village (we’re known for our gaslights, which have been retrofitted for electricity). I sadly had to take that part out, but when I was measuring the wall for dimensions, the librarian said I could use the little patch of wall next to the big wall if I wanted. I mentioned the gaslight to her, and then all these other ideas started popping into my head: what about an owl as our library is part of the OWWL system? Oh, and the AppleUmpkin festival every September! We’re known for that! I have to include that somehow! And that’s how the Wyoming mural was born 🙂 I was afraid that no one would make the connections between the apples and pumpkins or even the owl, but when I took the kids in this morning for story hour and to finish touch ups, there was a group of people admiring the mural who knew what everything stood for right away 🙂
In the children’s section, we have the fox and gingerbread man from The Gingerbread Man, Humpty Dumpty, a caterpillar referring to The Hungry Caterpillar, a hidden garden door for The Secret Garden, a tree house for The Magic Treehouse series, the beanstalk and castle in the clouds for Jack and the Beanstalk, Mary Poppins sitting in the clouds, and Peter Pan with the Darling children.
In the nonfiction section we have a dinosaur, the Titanic, the Eiffel tower, a NASA space shuttle, a toucan, and a biplane.
In the classics section, there is Sherlock Holmes, a deserted island for Treasure Island, Swiss Family Robinson, Robinson Crusoe, or any of the many classics that have a deserted island), Gandalf riding an eagle from The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings books, a hot air balloon from Around the World in 80 Days, Moby Dick, and a windmill from Don Quixote.
Problems I encountered: The original design called for a wall wider than it was tall; there were more characters in each section as I could make the book bigger, but unfortunately the wall is a square. I had to go back to the drawing board and rework the design.
Another problem was getting enough light into the space. The overhead light isn’t reliable, so I ended up having to bring in my own light and move it around as needed.
Overall, I’m really happy with how little difficulties I had. For a piece this size, a lot could have gone wrong, especially as I worked a lot while patrons were coming in and out of the library. It was pretty smooth sailing!
Fun tidbits: I am in need of a new tiny tiny tiny paintbrush, so all the tiny lines (on the biplane, the fox’s whiskers, the ropes on the hot air balloon) are all done in colored pencil. The caterpillar’s eyes are done in paint and permanent marker!
Favorite part: Everyone’s excitement about the piece! I’ve had people almost in tears seeing their favorite characters on the wall, I’ve had kids jumping up and down excited about the dinosaur and space shuttle, and one library patron almost begged me to do murals around the rest of the library. Everyone loves it, and just seeing people get excited about these characters from their books is exactly what I was looking for.
Least favorite part: There are some parts that I wish turned out better, but I don’t think there’s any part I really hate. I do wish the pumpkins and grass weren’t so flat looking, but I spent over an hour trying to fix them with no success.
Where is Jack? You have the beanstalk and castle, but no Jack!
I think I’ve lost count as to how many times I was asked this question! I honestly didn’t feel like the mural needed Jack for viewers to understand what the beanstalk and castle were from. However, because I’ve been asked so much, Jack is inside the castle, hiding from the giant 🙂
Did you design this yourself, or are you copying someone else’s idea/art/mural?
I did design this myself. Most of the murals/designs online are characters all interacting together or coming up out of a single closed or open book, almost like a genie coming out of his magic lamp, but from what I can tell, this take on the characters in a book is unique 🙂
I did not include all the pictures of each individual character here. The post would have been too long. I will be posting a link later to my Facebook album where the more in depth pictures will be 🙂
And we can’t forget the before and after shots!
What would you have included in the mural? What do you think of the before and after shots?