Friday, December 21, 2012

15~ Mural 2012: Annette's Rooster

rooster mural painting

Friday, October 5th, was also the day of the rooster. I'd been working on those bay windows all day and was pretty exhausted by it. What I thought would be finished in a day was barely begun in two ~ and we're talking eight-or-nine-hour days. I'd sketched in the toys and started sketching doughnuts and bon bons in the candy shop. Annette, a friend of mine, had come by to look at the mural a day or so previously. She said we really needed a rooster somewhere. She had voiced my own thought. All along, I thought the barn just wasn't complete without a chicken, but I wasn't sure where to put him. There was very little room between the barn and the corner of the wall. Besides, there was very little foreground ~ the barn was designed to come all the way down to the floor, as if you were standing at the door of a real barn. I had considered putting one perched on the inside stall of the barn, but I thought a cow, cat, and mini-landscape was enough for that space. I really liked the neutral color of the gray stall, and had decided not to add another element (unless it be some rustic, neutral-colored farm implements). But we all ~ Brenda, Annette, and I ~ agreed that a rooster would be prime. I had gotten up some pictures of roosters and done some gesture drawings. Now, I was just about tired of messing with those bay windows, and thought I'd give the rooster a shot.

rooster gesture drawings
Two Gesture Drawings of a Rooster

My first idea of having him roosting on a bale of hay in front of the barn didn't pan out. I just didn't think there was room in the composition for a bale of hay. If the barn were further back, it might work. But the bale would have to be flat and chunky, kind of squished into what little foreground I had to work with in front of the barn. Then I thought of loose sprigs of sage grass. That would serve a dual purpose: softening the corners of the barn, and giving me some compositional interplay between barn, hay, and rooster. That would work, I thought, and the rooster would look good in that left-hand corner. Tufts of grass, loose hay, reeds ~ such things work well to frame in a compositional element, almost as borders or scrolls work in the corner of a document. They also help smooth out quirks of perspective, covering up tricky spots where it might be hard to make a smooth transition from one element to another. (For anyone interested in perspective, the concept here is that of over-lapping planes. Cezanne, in particular, developed alternative solutions to the aerial perspective used by older masters).

Once I got started the rooster, I painted him quickly. It was very spontaneous, and I was amazed that latex paint would go on with such bright, crisp brushstrokes. I even achieved the appearance of a sheen on the feathers ~ though the colors themselves are flat, not glossy. They are latex, and I don't believe that I mixed any acrylic tube colors with them. If I did, it was precious little, because I wanted to avoid any of the funkiness that can come about by mixing paint with different binders as their base. Water-based paint will mix, but sometimes you'll get a more slick, plastic gloss with tube colors than the soft, velvety tones characteristic of latex paint. I'm pretty proud of my rooster. I think he might be my favorite part of the mural. The shot below shows how he looks in the context of the larger mural:

barn mural with animals
Final Barn with Cow, Cat, Mouse, and Rooster

We told Annette that she had gotten her rooster, and thereafter, he was christened "Annette's Rooster."

Mural 2012: Friday, October 5, 2012 (Finished Barn with Animals)

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