At the mercy of the elements
Over the past week I have been working hard on my first ever outdoor mural, and wow is it a different experience to working indoor. Firstly, I was at the mercy of the elements and, considering how changeable the weather has been over the past month, I have been obsessively checking the forecasts and keeping everything crossed for a run of dry days.
This mural, like my last one, was commissioned by Asfordby Hill Primary School and so we one again had to find some dates where the children weren’t in, where we had a chance of good weather, and where I could sort childcare for my own children. Easter worked well, with Leicestershire term dates being a week different to Rutland, giving me a week of an empty school, whilst my children were still in their school, we just had to hope for the weather.
I began on the Saturday which was cold, but luckily dry, and managed to prime the wall with an exterior primer and sealer, and begin plotting out the design.
This particular design was by one of the year six pupils at the school. They ran a competition, inviting all the students to enter, to produce a design that would then be used on this wall, which I think is such a wonderful thing to do. What an amazing way to boost a young artist’s confidence, by seeing their painting reproduced on this scale and for all passers by to see. Whilst it was very strange to be painting someone else’s design, as I normally design all my murals from scratch myself, it was also such a fab picture to work from, with all my favourite colours (just all the colours, in fact!), plus I always love a challenge!
One of the most challenging things about this mural, aside from the weather, was the brick surface. The school is an old building so the bricks were chipped and flaking, and the event in between was falling out and uneven, making it extremely difficult to do straight lines and meaning that everything took a longer than it would on a flat wall.
I started by blocking out where everything would go then filling in all the light and bright colours, before I added in the black background. As I explained in my last mural blog, this is so the colours pop against the white base, rather than being dulled over black, and meaning they don’t need as many layers to cover. Though it is fiddly work, especially on the brick, going round all the details.
As always I had all my brushes with me, which helped get in between all the gaps in the brickwork and meant I didn’t miss a spot.
I was blessed with two gorgeous days of sunshine which made working outside an absolute joy and, despite the many beeps and shouted comments from passing men in lorries and vans, there were also many lovely people who stopped to chat and comment on how nice they thought the painting was looking.
On the last day, the boy who designed the mural visited with his Dad to sign it and I was so pleased that he was really happy with how it had turned out.
Once finished I coated the mural in multiple coats of Polyvine Heavy Duty Extreme Varnish which is not only waterproof and suitable for exterior work, it also filters UV rays which is particularly important for a painting sitting on a south facing wall, facing full sun all day on the nicer days.
I’m so happy with how this mural has turned out. The reaction from the headteacher, the child designer and the passing public has been brilliant and I can’t wait to hear what the children think when they return to school after Easter. It presented many challenges, from the weather to brickwork but has been worth every second of hard work and I love that I’ve added another slice of colour to the world. As a super colourful rainbow artist and painter, that makes me happiest of all!