...After months of hard work, countless hours of drawing and painting practice, and continually stepping out of my comfort zone to take on new creative challenges I find myself here, just a few days away from painting one of the UKs tallest murals.
It has been just over three years since I decided to refocus on my creative practice and start out on this adventure of discovering who I am as an artist. It may be difficult to believe but absolutely true that at the beginning of this journey I was afraid to work with paint and would have never foreseen a day when I would use a brush nib pen let alone an actual paint brush. Having been almost 100% digital in my practice I had honed my digital competency for many years but in the process I had lost a great deal of confidence in my fundamental skills of drawing and experimenting with media. However I was determined for that to change. Although I love working digitally and it is in fact second nature to me, I knew that I missed the enjoyment I experienced from crafting something physically with simple tools and manual processes so after months and months of hard work, countless hours of drawing and painting practice, hours of researching, and continually stepping out of my comfort zone to take on new creative challenges I found myself here; A few days away from painting one of the UKs tallest murals for one of the countries most high profile property companies, Bruntwood.
When I was tagged in the call-out to design a piece for Bruntwood by Ruth of Gorgeous Gorse Hill, my excitement was intense, I could not believe that such an opportunity had landed in the UK. For years I had followed the careers of incredible murals artists in Canada and America, namely the work of Jessie and Katey and their colossal mural at Eakins Oval and also the Favela painting projects of Dutch artists Jeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahn (Haas&Hahn). From then I knew that public art murals and collaborative art was something I wanted to explore and to focus my practice on. I am fascinated by place-making and scale and love the impact that public art can have on its surroundings, and on those who encounter it, even if it was just a bright painted wall; I enjoy how Public art leaves an impression, how it starts conversations, and when created collaboratively, how it can transform communities.
When the tweet came through it was just nine days until the deadline and the call-out required artists to create a full proposal and artwork. I knew that to develop a strong a concept, illustrate it, develop it, visualise it, create a proposal for it, and then present it in nine days was going to be a challenge, especially with the other commitments I had at the time, but I also knew that it was an opportunity that I could not miss without at least giving it a try.
I spent several evenings sketching ideas. One of the concepts I came up with strongly featured flowers so I enlisted the help of Ruth from GGH. Ruth is an expert in urban gardening and I knew that she would be able to help. I provided Ruth with a list of colours that I intended to use in my design and she subsequently provided me with a list of native flowers in those colours. I then researched these flowers and began to illustrate them as part of my design. I created the illustrations in brush and ink on cartridge paper and then scanned them into my computer to develop the artwork.
After several late evenings chained to my drawing table and Mac, the illustrations were complete. It was then time for the proposal. Costing, presenting, and explaining my ideas. I love the process of compiling proposals so although creating the proposal was even more taxing than creating the illustrations it was very satisfying. Then with a click and a swish I sent it off.
Several months passed before I got the call that I had been selected. It was such an exciting moment and honestly a tad bit ‘xfactor-ish’. “Venessa, I am pleased to let you know that you are our selected artist…A press release will be going out shortly…congratulations.”
It was only later that I realised that the call-out had been global and that proposals had been received from far as Canada and Brazil. On seeing the scale of the opportunity, the level of talent of the other artists, and the notoriety of those on the selection panel, I felt a great sense of achievement.
There have been several months of planning since that call, many conversations and several visits to site, but now with only a few days to go I am still as excited as when I first submitted that proposal and was announced as the winner.
Painting the mural will require weeks of weather watching, wall scaling and many evenings spent soaking aching muscles but I cannot wait. Although It is not my first piece of public art it is my largest and subsequently my most public to date. I intend to chart my experiences and journey each day so check back when you can to see how I am getting on and to see the final artwork emerge.
Thanks for stopping by