Monday, September 30, 2013

Scale and Measurement: Creating a Mural from a Sketch

I just finished 2 ½ hours with a reporter doing an article about the New Vision Heron Mural.  A surprising amount of our conversation had to do with preserving the characteristics of the preliminary artwork in the mural.  How do you scale up drawings?  
For this project I began by overlaying a grid of ½” squares onto a copy of the sketch, and then drew 12 inch squares on the mural.  This creates a      ½” scale      (½” = 1’).

On the sketch I found where the edge of the heron intersected a grid line, and put a dot on that spot, on the mural’s grid.  Going to the next place where that edge crossed a grid line, I transferred another point to the mural grid.  As I worked around the drawing, marking the mural and then connecting the dots, the tiny drawing was faithfully rendered.

My pet peeve about many murals is that they don’t look like paintings.  Accurately rendering the sketch is my best attempt to make the mural look like art, so I’m taking pains to get the lines, marks and distortion in the right spots.

 I continue the same procedure for the distortion speckles in the background.  On a mural it may not be visible to drive by viewers, but it is a part of the approved design…it also creates a texture in the background, rather than simply having flat planes of color.
This drawing was approved by the town’s Historic District Commission. All the contributions were given to see this drawing made into a mural.  There is accountability to the community and all the donors to render the sketch accurately!
I also want to improve on the drawing by making the steps in background colors smoother and cleaner:  I’ve spent 12 hours mixing colors to achieve that. 

These samples were created using measuring spoons, converting to cups for painting the fields of color in the 30’ x 12’ finished mural.  I also make a sample chart using the mass quantity mixtures to verify accuracy.
Studies often surpass finished artworks in charm and spontaneity— translating that joy to a large scale work is a challenge.  These mathematic functions are only the foundation for accomplishing that.  All of your skill will be called on to fill in the gaps, once your proportions and color are properly translated.
Best wishes, and don’t be afraid to GO LARGE!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Art Forgery and Love

"Graphite Grid, Panel #8"; 2014-17, 16" x 16", Hay Embedded in Latex Paint on Wooden Panel
James Thatcher  ©  2017

I understand.   The wealthy want the best and an investment level artwork is bought to be re-sold at a profit; hence galleries, auction houses and private dealers market the works of grand masters.  Who has time to pursue their own investments, because time constraints, expertise and even fear can come into play in their choices?

Perhaps they hire researchers and then make informed choices.  You’ve got to trust your market analyst, your investment counselors, your interior designer; the galleries, critics, museums…
If investors are quick to research, does this zeal translate to their other interests?
"Hypar with Analytic Function"; 2013-17, 88" x 66", Acrylic & Hay Embedded in Latex Paint on Canvas
James Thatcher   ©  2017

Alas.  Few are passionate enough about visual art to make their own inquiries; but these are the ones who generate movement in the art industry.  And perhaps they send in their people to look, to edit choices and recommend the next purchases…it seems practical, no?

"Hypar Z"; 2015-17, 18" x 24", Acrylic on Canvas
James Thatcher  ©  2017

Buyer beware.  The recent art forgery scandal has made many fools.   Wouldn’t it be better to be surrounded by your own choices, by what you’ve discovered and love; as opposed to being sold a false bill of goods?
Why not come to know the keen disappointment of a day spent going from gallery to gallery, seeing nothing of interest?  Eventually you’ll realize the one place that really does have stimulating work…this is your dealer.  You will know that you are intrigued, you think about that artwork when you’re not there, and you’ll know that you must have it.
"Hyperbolic Paraboloid", 2017, 18", Welded Steel
James Thatcher  ©  2017
 In the end, if your passions change or you were merely infatuated with works that weren’t what you once thought, you can donate them to a hospital, a university, or a charity auction receiving full credit of your purchase price as a tax deduction.  So much the wiser.

Come on out and play ball!  Artists want to do good work; they want to sell it and be able to do what they love.  Every collector who gets their nose dirty by actually collecting broadens our industry and stimulates great activity.  Make jobs, have a great time, and change lives—buy your own art!

Study; 2017, 48", Pine
James Thatcher  ©  2017

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Damsel March--A Taste of My Family History

My great grandfather, Edwin Damsel (1887-1913) was a professional musician in Columbus, Ohio.  He wrote “The Damsel March” to celebrate the birth of my grandfather, William Damsel, in 1911. 


One hundred years after his death in the Great Ohio Flood of 1913, his march was performed for the first time by an orchestra, the Northport (MI) Community Band on the evening of Saturday, August 31, 2013.
The music has passed through 4 generations without ever being written down.  My younger brother, Joe, converted it through the computer program, “Sibelius” into written piano music which found its way into the hands of Mr. Kenneth Bloomquist.

Ken is the retired Department Head of the Michigan State University School of Music and a resident of Northport, MI.  Over the past year he arranged the piece for orchestra as a gift to my aunt, Sharon Hall and presented it during an evening of Sousa marches last week.
It pretty well rocks--Thanks Ken!