For the last six weeks I’ve been painting a second mural for Provo City. After putting in over 200 hours, I finished just before Halloween and thought I’d take some time to post some process photos and talk a little about making the mural. (You can read more about the project and see photos from the first mural here.)
Here is the tunnel before we started: bare cement walls with patches of paint to cover up the graffiti–and just look how beautiful the area is!
PRIMING & BASE COATS
The first step in painting the mural is to clean the walls, which the Police Department took care of via a pressure washer. Next comes priming, which seals the cement and prepares the surface for painting. It also keeps the porous cement from sucking all the paint into its walls. The small mural took something like 5 hours to prime with the help of 16 friends and family members, and the Police Department and I were able to prime the longer tunnel in two days.
We were fortunate to have found a friend in a local art teacher who just happened to be presenting a unit on murals to her class. Once the tunnel had been primed, 25 high school art students arrived by bus to help tackle the base coats. While the end result is made up of several layers of paint, it was easiest with the large group to cover large areas with solid color, and then to add the figures and landscapes on top of the base coats later.
This group was absolutely amazing and did a great job painting the tunnel. I’m still in shock at how quickly they covered almost the entire tunnel. Thank you, Mrs. Ruiz’s art class!
Just before we started painting the tunnel, a group of BYU film students got in touch with the Police Department. They wanted to make a documentary that focused on local graffiti, and the coordinator mentioned our mural project. Not only was the tunnel filled with high school art students, but the documentary crew showed up to film and record the process!
The crew showed up several times over the six weeks of painting to film and ask questions about the mural, the city, graffiti, and being an artist. Just before finishing the mural the crew filmed a sit-down interview at BYU (gulp!), and they’ll be spending the next several weeks editing the footage for their documentary. The crew was friendly and made me feel right at home. I can’t wait to see how the film turns out!
SCREEN TO CEMENT
When I first met with the Police Department in August, I created rough drafts of the murals on the computer to show what I was planning on painting. When it came time to paint, I printed out the images to help me lay out the dimensions and plot where the figures and landscapes would go. (Did I mention how difficult it is to match physical paint colors to rgb?!)
Click to see larger images.
Painting was a blast! I used the same color palette as I did with the first mural and then picked three of those colors for each of the entrances. I love using a limited color palette, and using color like pieces of a puzzle, fitting them here and there to make a cohesive whole.
I got to meet and talk with so many people and was happy to be joined by friends and family to help with different stages of the mural.
It was an incredible thing to spend the transition from Summer to Fall painting the tunnel. There were days when I was sweating the entire time, and days when I could no longer bend my fingers or feel my toes. Painting through sun, rain, snow, days, nights…it all made the time pass in a very peculiar way. I must have listened to something like 50 albums and 20 different podcasts.
Though we certainly had our fair share of graffiti during the painting process, it was an incredible thing to hear from so many people that they were walking through the tunnel for the first time because the mural made them feel safer. I can’t tell you how many people stopped mid-jog, just to say “thank you”. It’s a great feeling to be able to contribute to my home town in such a fun and positive way.
Here are some photos of the finished mural:
TUNNEL WALK-THROUGH THIS SATURDAY
If you’re in the Orem/Provo area, then I’d like to invite you to come walk through the tunnels this Saturday, November 9, at 10am. This is an open invitation to friends, family and people in the community, so please feel free to come and bring your loved ones. The tunnels are about a 10 minute walk from each other and we’ll be meeting at Walgreens at 1315 N State Street (Provo). See you there!