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Chords & Oil

I am involved with a new young artists’ collective called Chords & Oil. It’s an art collective with a progressive agenda.

The name is a play on mixed media.

We will bring social change to Topeka.


I’m DONE with the mural!

Wahoo! It feels great to have finished what was, for me, such a large project.  Both in physical size and ambition, this mural was a pretty big deal.  800 square feet of peach-colored base coat (twice over), 15 two-color globes that are all almost four feet across, 13 different colors of paint.  Whew.

Thanks to everyone who helped me through the whole process: Steve; Jane at Mainline Printing in Topeka; Jon at Boyda for CongressICI Dulux Paints on Baltimore in downtown KC; Lamb Chops; Martha, Karen, Zoraida, Andrew, Heather, and Joy at JVSKC (mural site);  Natasha at CFCA, and finally, Mom and Pop.  Thanks additionally to other friends and family who were encouraging along the way.  I could not have done it alone!

I hope, in the future, that I may be able to find my way into more projects like this one – it was a real challenge for me to think like a painter and a designer at once.  I’m not a painter by nature, and had only made a handful of stencils before this project – none of which were quite so big.  It was fun to be called an artist whenever I visited the mural site at JVS.

In other news, I have been working for Nancy Boyda’s campaign, and I will be essentially unemployed after this week.  If you’re looking to commission a diversely talented photographer, designer, sewer, or mural artist – please let me know.  I’m a creative person, so I’m not limited to just those fields. I could use the work!

Progress! Real, actual progress!

I painted five globes on the East-facing mural wall yesterday.  You may have seen my live twitter updates as I updated the photos to my flickr account.

My stencil setup worked!

The process:

  1. Print out globe outlines on transparencies.
  2. Project globes onto wall.
  3. Trace globes with sharpie onto 15 mil plastic sheeting.
  4. Cut out land masses, leaving “bridges” in the material for strength.
  5. Fold up plastic sheeting and drive to site.
  6. At stencil site, spray plain circles that will serve as oceans.
  7. Unfold stencils, affix into place with tape and spray adhesive – very effective for smaller, detailed cuts.
  8. Spray paint!

Tip from a pro

I found this photo on flickr recently:

I commented on this photo to ask how the artist made it.

Here’s the response:

I use this stuff called oil board….

it comes in sheets of 24×36 and rolls 48 inch wide by 100 Feet!

Awesome!  Now I know how the pros do it!

Stencil Attempt #1

Not exactly a pass.  Actually, I’d call it a fail.

I used my overhead projector with my friend’s digital projector adaptor thing (a strange contraption with an LCD screen and S-Video input that sits atop an old public-school style projector) to shine globes up on the wall.  It worked all right, but it resized my 1440 x 900 widescreen to 800 x 600 … ouch!  It also made the images pretty fuzzy.

I put the 4′ x 4′ pieces of corrugated plastic up behind the projection, and traced the outlines with a sharpie.

After six outlines, I was ready to sit down and cut.  I got out my breakaway X-actos and started into the sharpie lines, and ran into lots of problems.

I couldn’t cut all the way through the plastic.  I couldn’t make sharp turns.  And when I went to pop the design out of the bigger piece, the plastic just ripped in places and created lines where lines shouldn’t have been.  None of these are good for stencilling.

So, I scrapped the idea to use corrugated plastic.  That will have to be for some other project.

I went out and bought heavy (6 mil) plastic sheeting from Lowe’s, and I found these 15 oz. cans of Rustoleum that I think will work well for the mural.

The revised process (tentative):

  1. I’m going to print out my globes on transparencies, making sure the designs are stencillable.
  2. I’ll stick the plastic up on the wall in 4′ x 4′ cut squares.
  3. I’ll shine the projected globes onto the plastic.
  4. Trace with a sharpie.
  5. Cut out the plastic film!

So, my hope is that the plastic will be durable enough not to rip, but thin enough to be easily cut and transported.  Wish me luck!


I found a great post  over at Calyx design – Richard explains the same kind of conundrum many of us art enthusiasts have.  We’d love to support street art and graffiti, but can’t at the same time morally condone vandalism.  He suggests an approach to street art that everyone can take!


So, I think I will soon be able to continue my work on the mural.  (That is, if I ever find some free time for doing something other than working or biking)

I got some giant (4’x8′), corrugated plastic signs from the Boyda Campaign office.  They will be perfect for cutting out stencil designs.  I don’t think my shiny cardboard stuff is quite large enough for the outlines, though it will be good for the details.  Stay tuned!

Ideas, anyone?

So it has been pretty slow going with the mural in the last few weeks, at least since I put the base coat on.  Part of that is because I got a job.  The other part is because it has been really hard to come up with a method to paint consistent giant globes on a five-foot-tall wall.  I think I’m going to do stencils, and I think I have some good art to start with, but I just have to sit down and get pen and blade to paper!