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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.

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