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Thursday, October 30, 2008


For those who have asked about the process of making a mural like this, I'll try to document it here step by step.

The first step. of course, was coming up with a concept. This is probably the hardest part, especially because I have to please both myself and Mr. Soto. It is extremely important that he is happy both because I am very grateful for the opportunity and because he has a vision for the school in which the murals play a large role. As for myself, if I don't feel it, how can I work on it?

The second step is designing the mural. I might start with a general concept and a very rough drawing, but the image starts evolving once I start gathering photos. In this case I took photos of two girls who have received dance scholarships for their work in the tap class offered by the after school program for which I work, Say Yes to Education. This is a program that is so wonderful for the kids and for us workers that I came to help out for two weeks and stayed indefinitely. One of the rewards is seeing the children grow and develop as individual persons. These two girls are extremely talented and, why not say it, so beautiful. The girl in the center is my art student. She is like a sponge: everything I teach, she learns immediately, but is also very free to just do her own thing. The painting in the background is hers. We did a Jackson Pollock exercise and she just took off. She is definitely an abstract painter, always working on patterns, using the elements of art like she invented them. The boy with the trumpet... do you recognize him? He is so big and handsome! He just got a new trumpet (which he obviously does not know how to play, look at his hands) and he did this pose for me so spontaneously. The other boy is the model from the first mural.

I work in layers in Photoshop, keeping everything separately so that I can erase or change without losing everything. I must have more than 50 layers in this image.

Once the image is approved (read Mr. Soto's comment in the previous post!) I start printing. I make a new copy of the final version, and flatten it. I work in a small size (1 inch: 12 inches) and 300 dpi. When it is time to print, I copy, cut and then paste into a new document one piece of the entire image, and then turn it into he final size it should have (the ratio above) by going to the menu under Image to Image Size... and changing the size. For example, if I want the final mural to be 6 feet tall, then I change the height to 72 inches. The width changes automatically when "Constrain Proportions" is checked at the bottom of the box. The reason I work small is that otherwise it would be too hard to process each change to the image. 300 dpi are enough to make it big without losing resolution.

Then I cut and paste into a new document pieces that fit into a regular 8.5 x 11 page and print each separately, then cut it and assemble it as a giant jigsaw puzzle. This process can easily take a week. This is what I am doing right now.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

New Mural

The Garden of Dreams
This is the third and last mural of the series, and I hope it is a grand finale, although that's for you to judge. For me, it summarizes the other two, and brings us into a world that is real and magical at the same time. The children are pursuing their dreams, working towards their goals, letting the world and themselves know what they want. Mr. Soto once asked me to include some words into the image, but at the time I felt they did not quite fit in. This time, however, the words were the natural and logical thing to do. I thought they could be a message to the children, and the entire school, about the role of dreaming in our lives. I guess I wanted to share my own philosophy....

Dreaming is strength,

dreaming is joy,

Dreaming is faith, power and will,

for when we dream,

and play our songs,

and dance our lives,

and paint our hopes,

we tell the world,

and ourselves,

there are no limits

to our success.

At the time I am writing this, Mr. Soto has no seen the image, and I still have to design two side panels in which I will include a young trombone player and another instrument player (not sure yet which instrument...,) but the main panel will define the two sides and I think he will like it. This is a bigger mural and, as always, a bit scary to think about how long it will take to complete and how much work it will require, but I also like the challenge of creating something big and complicated that hopefully will live longer than I do. Most importantly, making something that touches the lives of people and inspires them to pursue their dreams at the same time I realize my own dream of creating art and living a life in which art sustains and supports me both materially and spiritually. Right now, I am full of gratitude and love. ATARAXIA.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Cancion de la Magdalena (Song of the Magdalene)

grabado para portadas


He tratado de mantener la disciplina del mural para terminar este proyecto que lleva desarrollándose (y evolucionando) tres años. Al final, terminé diseñando el libro completamente, y hasta la canción cambió, pero estoy muy contenta con el resultado.

Se trata de un libro que contiene una canción escrita por Raquel y que está basado en tantas conversaciones y pensamientos acerca de María Magdalena. En el proceso comencé a estudiar los íconos bizantinos y cómo para pintarlos el artista tiene que ponerse en armonía con la idea que expresa el santo que está pintando. Inventé un alfabeto basado en el alfabeto copto y estoy pintando un ícono (a mi manera, pero tratando de ser fiel a la idea de la comunicación con el santo) y escribiendo cada libro a mano. Son 21, múltiplo de 7, número de la Magdalena. El papiro lo traje del viaje a Egipto. Los anks los hice con un molde que saqué de un ank que traje también de allá. Está cosido al estilo copto. Al final me vino a la mente la palabra ex voto y así lo he dedicado al final. Es un trabajo que me ha obligado a entregarle lo que tenía y lo que no, y siento que me ha hecho crecer. Ya tengo el #1 y sólo me faltan 2 detalles. Tan pronto tenga la secuencia de fotos, lo presentaré aquí.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A leaf fluttered in through the window this morning, as if supported by the rays of the sun, a bird settled on the fire escape, joy in the task of coffee, joy accompanied me as I walked.
Anais Nin

Great Joy has accompanied me, too, in the task that began 2 years ago and that I now look forward to celebrating. I had never done a mosaic, and my only experience doing a mural was at the age of 14, when a teacher asked me and a classmate to copy an image she liked and paint a mural outside her classroom. But I decided to have faith and trust myself as Mr. Israel Soto, the principal of P.S. 57, was trusting me when he proposed that I do a mosaic mural on the wall of his beautiful school. Like I often do when I fear something a great deal, I dove into it and began cutting little tiles without a second thought.

I really meant to celebrate the completion of the first mural, but time passed and projects and life went on without pause, and I soon saw myself finishing another wall full of tiny pieces of glass. Now, with the completion of the second one (a third one is to come next year), I feel I want to pause, reconnect with friends, share some nice things to eat and drink, and feel the warmth of the people who have supported me all these years with their words of encouragement, love and trust. Please come and celebrate with me, and bring me a little of your good energy and love. I hope you enjoy seeing the murals and I will really enjoy seeing you!


When: June 6, 2008
Where: PS 57, 115 Street between Lexington and 3rd Avenues
Time: 6:00-8:00 pm
Info: 646-267-9681
Transportation: #6 to 116 Street, buses: M101, M102, M103, M98, M1, M2, M3, M4


Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Mosaic Done, Mural Almost Finished

Now I only need to peel the wax paper from the back, mount it on the wall and place the grout. Almost done!

Monday, April 21, 2008


Mural, Work on the Last Part

This is the last part of the mural. If everything goes well, I'll be done in 3 or 4 days. Then comes the part that, for me, is the hardest: placing it on the wall. But... one thing at a time. I'm just glad it's almost done, it looks good, and I'll be done on time for the deadline, May 15, to present it during a big show that takes place in the school called Mano a Mano.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Progress, just one more piece

Next week I will eat, sleep and breath mosaic, since there are no classes and I'll have all day to finish on time for May 15th.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Progress for the last two weeks

The Aztec dancer girl is done. This is the boy that goes on the other side of the main part of the mural. I also started the large part and it is going well.

I'm out of words and out of breath, too. I have been working consistently (and long hours) this week and have accomplished a lot. Most days I end up wit my whole body in pain, especially my hands. I don't think I have finished half of the mural, but I'm getting close. I only have two more months, but need at least two weeks to mount it on the wall and grout it. So I don't have too much time and have to continue working at this brutal pace. I now know I can do anything I set out to do! I only have to work this way. I miss walking in the city, but can't complain: this is how I want to live. (With really long vacations, of course!)

Saturday, March 01, 2008

First panel (almost) done

I've been working on this all day, only stopping for food, water and a little love from my son. I'm not compeltely done, but must wait for the black and green tiles to arrive in order to finish. I'm note really done yet for today since I expect to finish the feathers on the girl's head, but tomorrow I'll finally go on to the center and largest panel.

Left panel of the mural

Face of the Aztec dancer (she is in costume, a girl learning dance and culture, and transported into a new world through dance and music)

The blue butterfly is for Raquel!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

New Mural in Progress

It is very hard to start something so big... but once I placed the first tile, I couldn't stop.
A few weeks ago I had created the design and assembled some of the mesh on wax paper. Then on Thursday, I created tile frames for the two side panels. Last week, the children in my art class at P.S. 57 helped trim the printouts and assemble one of the panels. Then I finished doing the rest with my friend Raquel. Finally, I gathered the courage to put the whole mural together. It looked like a gigantic jigsaw puzzle.

The work you see here is for the left side panel, a young aztec dancer surrounded by nature, sky, butterflies and a snake. I used an image from the Aztec dance presentation that a wonderful couple of Aztec dancers, created last year with the children.