Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Blank Slate: Wall Murals Step One

My Blank Slate: Looking Up
As I sit here on my own staircase steps, I contemplate the taking up of a brush to begin my own long-awaited mural. I can’t help but remember the many and varied murals I have done for others.
My Blank Slate: Looking Down
For me, professionally, it all started with a house in Bay Village. A small mural above some cabinets. Although I feel my work has grown and developed since, it fulfilled that need to start somewhere. And that first stroke of paint has always been the hardest. For a split second you wonder if you have planned it all just right. But once you get going, a momentum builds until you are excited to finally see the finished mural. You know it is the end when it feels complete-not one more element to be added.
There is a great deal that has been written about the history of the American folk art murals that were painted in the early 19th century. Rufus Porter became one of the most famous itinerant painters. He worked throughout New England and elsewhere, and often with students under his tutelage. His murals included scenic landscapes with a number of trees, bodies of water, buildings, fences, and other elements. Porter was a bit of a renaissance man, and his interest in a variety of subjects showed in his murals. He even included a volcano in one mural, an expression of his interest in world travel.
Porter’s murals, along with those of his students, have been a major source of inspiration for me. While my work reflects their style, it has its own look. When working with a client, my chief objective is to find what significant places are or were a part of their lives, as well as anything else inspires them. The family pets usually find their way in as well. These murals are a journey through peoples lives with their childhood homes, historic landmarks they often visit, family homes, villages, and so many other elements of place. There are and endless variety of ideas that can be incorporated into your own personal mural. Some of my past favorites are quilts on a clothesline, an orchard, a waterfall, a bicycle, flags, a trade sign, and so many others too numerous to mention. All of these had a personal connection to the client.

So as I again contemplate my own mural destined to wind up our stair well, I am overwhelmed by the possibilities. Since I have had 9 years to think about it, I am confident that I know what story to tell. Our mural will be the saga of the western movement of our families. Buildings from 17th century New England and 18th century Pennsylvania to Ohio’s Western Reserve, where we have currently put down our roots, will tell that story, blending past and present.
And now the time has come to take up my brush and begin this journey.

1 comment:

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