I'm back from Flint, Michigan where I painted a new mural. It was part of Flint Public Art Project's goal to bring 50 murals to Flint this year (another fifty are planned for next year). I was born in Flint and grew up mostly in the nearby towns of Davison and Mt. Morris. Being invited back was a great opportunity to visit my folks and reconnect with some old friends. My artwork is installed at Factory Two, a maker-space located at the corner of Grand Traverse St. and Water St. in Flint's "Carriage Town" neighborhood. My friends that manage the space also run Flint Local 432, an all-ages venue that I frequented as an angsty teen.
Factory Two was once the home of the Dort Motor Car Co., an early competitor to Ford and other innovators in the realm of automobile manufacturing. My mural features two cartoon robots building a model Dort sedan. When I was a kid, my grandfather let me use his tools and workbench to work on my own projects, so I was thinking about that when I was generating concepts for this project.
This is by far the biggest thing I've ever painted at 25 feet by 11 feet. I gave myself roughly ten days to complete the mural, so I had to plan some things out in advance to make that deadline. First off, while designing the final artwork in Adobe Illustrator, I chose a limited color palette using Sherwin-Williams' "Digital Color Wall" paint chart on their website. That way, I wouldn't be spending time mixing the perfect shade of blue every time I ran out of paint. Painting with house paint is actually pretty great for large surfaces. Who knew? Also, if you're doing this and don't need a gallon of any particular color, I recommend opting for Sherwin-Williams' "Color To Go" sample quarts. They're about six bucks and I never needed more than a quart for each of the colors. If you're doing this for an exterior wall like my mural, spend some of the money you saved on a good exterior UV clear coat. My wall at Factory Two had plenty of space in front of it to use a projector to get the initial composition onto the wall, so with help from the 110W outlet in my buddy's Jeep, I plugged in my projector just as the sun went down. After chalking over the projected lines, I came back in the morning and painted over those lines in paint. Luckily, it hadn't rained overnight. Then, it was just a matter of fixing irregularities and filling in the solid colors. It took a number of days to complete the coverage and clean up the solid shapes. I used my grandfather's SUV as a paint studio and the kind staff at Factory Two kept me hydrated and fed.
Thanks to Flint Public Art Project for inviting me to take part, and thanks to Factory Two for all their support and encouragement. Thanks to Matt Delight and my other friends and family for dropping by while I was up on a ladder. Thanks to Grandpa and Grandma Ellingson for letting me use their home and vehicle while they’re on “sabbatical”.
Does your organization need a gigantic mural? Because apparently I do those now and am willing to accept your dollars for standing on a ladder to make it happen. Please drop me a line.
Process pics for the mural at Factory Two:
I always start with loose sketches on paper before moving to digital for color: