Today we focused on adding detail to portions of the mural that already have their second coats of paint, meaning that was a bit slow on any major changes. I focused on perfecting my friend Pres. Spencer's eyes and glasses and adding chains to the figures supporting the Chambers building while Isabel worked on the Delta letter jacket.
In the afternoon I had a chance to catch up with one of my former art professors, Herb Jackson. Throughout my career at Davidson, Herb was both my professor and mentor. His works are part of private and institutional collections around the world. He's most renown for his Veronica's Veil series, though he works with various subjects.
It was in Herb's classes did I begin to understand the power and place of vibrant color and texture in painting. Over lunch we chatted about our art, upcoming shows, and new projects in the pipeline. Herb described since his retirement in 2011 he has been able to paint everyday uninterrupted and on his own schedule. I've been to his studio in Davidson along with other art majors and it is a place of envy among artists. So the thought of being able to spend your day in a studio with nothing but the canvas, a bit of paint and XM radio's top 40 sounds like the perfect retirement plan. Please note, I doubt that Herb listens to XM's top 40 but who doesn't love Carly Rae's Call me Maybe?! Don't judge.
It is safe to say that Isabel and I have gotten in a "mural routine." We arrive at the union around 9am, turn on music, Isabel puts on a painting smock (I don't in an attempt to defy the painting gods- I prefer to paint in "high fashion" as a professor once accused) and we begin.
At the moment I've started working on both the American flag, which serves as an anchor for the mural, as well as the portrait of Samuel R. Spencer the former Davidson College President. I've found that working on multiple areas of mural simultaneously is the best way to get your mind and technique engaged. Especially, since the technique for painting the flesh of a portrait is much softer and requires a round brush versus the cloth of the flag which can be harsh and angular which is more conducive to the use of a flat brush (natural hair).
As we worked through the morning we were visited by a number of faculty and staff to see the progress we'd made over the weekend. I was pleasantly surprised to see Anne Wills, my former professor of African-American religion. It was in Professor Wills class that we discussed the paradox of learning religion and employing its teaching, which ultimately led to the theme Christian Limitation and foundation of my senior thesis and exhibition at Davidson. Professor Wills was a wonderful supporter of my art and recounted stories of people's reaction to one of my pieces (Mammy and Child) located in her office.
Isabel and I continued to work throughout the morning and afternoon to the tunes of Macklemore ringing through the room. As I continued add detail to the portrait of Pres. Spencer I couldn't help notice something was a bit off with the overall rendering. Usually, when I have this issue I take a minute to go away from whatever I'm working on and upon my return I can figure out what it is I need to change. However, after several attempts at going away and coming back (I'm pretty sure people in the union thought I'd developed an obsessive compulsion of leaving the room, walking around for a few seconds only to return) I still couldn't figure it out. I eventually enlisted the help of Isabel to see what she thought might needed to be changed. She'd be my "fresh eyes" since she had not been staring at it for the past several hours. She walked over, squinted, tilted her head and without missing a beat said "he looks like he's eating the flag." Well... I did ask.
She was right! I'd used an image of Pres. Spencer as he was giving a speech and realized out of context of the audience, the microphone and the implied setting, he just looked like he was eating the flag. Luckily, this was easily fixed.
I'm looking forward to showing it when it is finally complete.