Our first mural of 2021 has been a long time coming but a couple of days ago the clouds parted long enough for the sun to briefly pop its head out to say hello. That cheery greeting was enough for us to put on our painting jackets and get outside for a bit of freestyle al fresco painting.
We’d recently given the wall a spa day in preparation for mural season and stripped her back to her under layers but we’d stopped short of giving her a new coat of white because we both agreed the wall looked pretty cool as it was. A free background if you will. Time to put it to use.
All we had to start with was the basic stencil of the woman and after a fair bit of hoohah about what exactly we were doing we ended up with is the lady with the copper earrings here. She looks like she knows stuff she’s not going to tell you. And that’s most certainly the case. You just don’t have the correct security clearances.
Well, will you look at that. It’s only reveal day for my latest creation – a 3-in-1 mural of my cousin, Sandor. If you watch the video you can see that I’ve even dressed up for the occasion so you know it’s going to be pretty exciting. If you’re into that kind of thing.
Given that I was concerned that the different tapes at different angles could possibly be a bit visually jarring I’m pretty pleased with the end result. Let’s hope Sandor is too…
Step 1! We can have lots of fun. Step 2! There’s so much we can do. So we’d best narrow our options and decide on the most time consuming course of action then step to it. To up the ante a little I decided to use three different tapes set at three different angles not knowing if the final result would be an insult to both vision and art. But life is an experiment so we forge ever onward.
As you have likely spotted from one of the work in progress shots the temperature has now officially reached high enough that I’ve had to revert to my 90’s rapper look just to stay cool. Time is a harsh mistress it’s true but stay tuned for tomorrow’s exciting reveal all the same…
Bonus fact: In case you didn’t notice I hit you with some New Kid On The Block lyrics right at the start of this post. So there.
Step 1 – Find an old pencil sketch of Muhammad Ali that your dad did back in the 70’s in your auntie’s kitchen and decide that you want to do your own version of it. Attempt to find the reference photograph that he must have used but fail. #ali #muhammadali #mohammadali #mohammedali #stencil #art #contemporary #mural #paint #painting #wall #london #overcomplicated #sketch #70s #modern #street #urban #graffiti #lockdown #stepbystep #instructions It turns out Ali has been photographed thousands of times over the years and the internet is not particularly helpful when you can’t be very specific. No problem. You’ll just have to make the detail up yourself.
Step 2 – Using the arcane skills you’ve learned over the years turn the original sketch into a wall sized stencil and then apply to your wall in black. So far so good. This is easy.
Step 3 – After much deliberation about colour and the general direction you want the picture to take you decide on a nice bright red and go with the wallpaper with the hidden morse code message and sit back to admire your handiwork. You leave it overnight and decide to come back tomorrow to see if you’ve actually finished…
Step 4 – Have a harebrained idea about taking this piece next level by having it as three murals in one and then proceed to attempt to make this idea a reality. Constantly question whether it will work or just be an immense waste of your time. Add some detail to the hair area then try to take some classy shots. This could be as good as it gets. Really go for it and include the cat if you can and any other arty shots you can manage.
Step 5 – Apply tape to half the wall and then recolour the background in a vague approximation of the colours of the Islamic flag to denote his membership of the Nation of Islam in 1964 and his name change from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali. Your idea already sounds pretty highfalutin but you’ll go with it all the same.
Step 6 – Add some white to the background then, using your meagre skills at skin tone and having no reference pic to go from (other than the photo of your dad’s pencil sketch), colour the face in and try to make it look at least a little convincing. Hmmm. You’ll have to try a little harder than that.
Step 7 – Fuss around for ages trying to get the skin tone looking at least a bit more believable. That’s a bit better. Best to stop now before you go too far. Admire your handiwork and take another pic. That’s two murals down. There’s no turning back now.
Step 8 – It’s reveal time! Find the ends of the tape that you applied to the wall in Step 5 and yank that stuff straight off the wall. You’re now officially a performance artist.
Step 9 – Now you get to see if your plan actually worked. Admire your handiwork and take a few more pics. Job done. Congratulations. Then it’s time to wonder if anyone has done this kind of thing before or if you’ve finally found your thing. Think about this for approximately five minutes before your attention is diverted by the next shiny idea to pass through your brain.
You’ll be glad to know I prevailed in the mexican standoff with Patrick here. His phone rang. I signalled with my eyes that it would be cool to take the call. He wandered off to take said call and I struck. Hitting the wall with what I imagined to be the cover of Patrick’s newest imaginary Afrofunk single. Straight from the mean streets of Mombasa and fresh from his new collaboration album with Seun Kuti and Staff Benda Bilili. You’ll also be glad to hear it’s shooting up the imaginary Afrofunk charts as I write. Life can be sweet, even in these dark times…
Whilst Patrick here has been really most helpful in getting him to this stage he resolutely refuses to communicate anything about his preferences for a background so we’re currently engaging in the artistic version of a mexican standoff. Who will prevail?
Well, it turns out that we’ve reached something of an impasse with Patrick here. It’s been a rocky road to get this far and now the way forward is unsure. I had even less skin tone colours than last time but am quite pleased with the eventual outcome – especially the nose. The problem is background. And there is currently no resolution in sight.
It would seem the muse has slipped off to provide inspiration to some other struggling artist. The best I can currently come up with is something Tiger King related but that just feels like I’m jumping on the bandwagon. We’ll just have to see if that’s the best I can do. Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion of the second series of ‘Painting in my garden’…
Day 28 of self-isolation. Marcus has no idea what day of the week it is and is proud of that fact. He has now reverted to a more primordial being. Self grooming was scaled back and has now stopped entirely. His beard is taking on a life of it’s own and his untamed afro is becoming more voluminous by the hour. Reality has ceased being real. His primary concerns now are hunter-gathering, sleeping and watching television. In that order. Most conversations take place in his head. He’d quite like to know when this is all going to end so he can plan accordingly. It’s 11.45am however so he’s only got 15 minutes to prepare for cocktail hour and he doesn’t want to miss the 2 for 1 promo deal… As a side note Marcus’ hair extension was surprisingly time consuming to create considering it’s just a big bit of spray painted paper. Luckily time is currently the one thing I do have plenty of. I think I’ve taken Marcus as far as he can go. Time for a whitewash…
‘I always feel like somebody’s watching me’ sang Rockwell in his 1984 hit (which features Michael Jackson on backing vocals assumably because Rockwell’s dad was Motown CEO Berry Gordy). And he wasn’t wrong. In today’s always-connected society the feeling that you’re being watched is very real indeed. Because you probably are. Being under lockdown hasn’t really helped to allay this anxiety for Marcus here but he’s getting on with things as best he can. Aren’t we all.
Well, there it is. My first solo mission. I’m pretty pleased with the final product – from the skin tone to the wallpaper. Now I just need some sunshine again and I can move on with some modifications before whitewashing and starting all over again.