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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.