In December I had heard about the City of Lincoln’s Artistic Rain Barrel Program and in January I submitted a design. In February I was surprised and delighted to hear that my application was one of 25 chosen for the 2010 program! For the rest of that month and on into March I used every spare minute to figure out how the heck I was going to turn this thing into an object of art.
After initially freaking out because the thing was, well, huge…it comes up to my waist and I’m 5’11″…I had imagined it shorter and fatter…I realized I could do this and my design (or an elongated version of) was appropriate for the size and shape of it. Knowing that I lack the skill to pull off photorealism on a big bucket (or canvas for that matter) my design submission was simple–2 colors, just outlines (think KISS method). No shading, no gradation, just cat tails and wetlands creatures outlined in a pleasing palette. Something fairly simple and straightforward to execute and nice to look at–it’s best for everybody that way. I had an idea of the colors I wanted so off to the art supply store I went. Unfortunately, they had nothing that matched the paint in my head and with such a large piece I didn’t want to make the mixing formula too complicated. I had decided on a few colors of some inexpensive acrylic paint in a bottle (not knowing what the best formulation is for a primed barrel–who does?) and mixed 2 of them in a freezer bag, squishing it around and making a mess everywhere. Fun. Then I got a lovely new wide brush and went to town. Base color done.
Now for the hard part. Making it look good. Yikes, where to start. Generally I would try to sketch it out on paper first with the appropriate dimensions to see how it all looks before committing to the canvas/barrel, but for a cylindrical object that sounded…hard. I decided I had better test a small area in back to see if I liked my foreground color. Ooh, I did. I wonder what that dot would look like as an object…then as a scene…before I knew it I had dove in head first and come up with this.
I liked. I also realized that this would require many many layers and lots of edge cleaning up to make it look striking and professional. For the next few weeks I painted and repainted, inserting and deleting frogs, turtles, beavers, butterflies, dragonflies, and birds. I finally got done with it last Tuesday night, waited 48 hours and had Bronson out in the garage spraying it down with topcoat. Friday morning (the deadline for turning it in) I panicked when I couldn’t find the original bubble wrap it came in but had to get to work. He went to 2 stores to find some and came back right in time before my mom got there in her Explorer to take it back to the city Watershed Mgt office (she also got stuck with picking it up for me because I was too sick to leave the house that day). It takes a village to paint a barrel. Thanks, you guys. Here is a picture she took after she dropped it off and they unwrapped it, all shiny and topcoated. Standing next to it is Amanda Meder, the organizer of the program, who I cropped out because I don’t know if she wants her photo on my blog! Anyway, this will be at the downtown (Bennett Martin) library tomorrow and for the next month, so if you are in Lincoln stop on by! Also look at the list of other businesses displaying barrels, there are some really amazing artists out there!
Also, the lovely and talented Zeljka Hassler is currently updating my website, so go to www.andreariley.me and check it out! Some of the photos on there by Matt Miller, who graciously agreed to photograph my art outside yesterday. Check out his site at http://mattmillerphoto.com/