Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Yoga Studio Mural at Yogawood- the Process from Sketches to Painting

It's been a super busy last 4-5 months for me which has left little time to blog, but that's okay with me. As a full time freelancer, it seems like it's always feast or famine - everyone wants me to work for them at the same time, then I go through periods of little to no work. This summer will mark the beginning of my 3rd year freelancing, and I'm starting to get better at managing my workflow - next time I have a lull in work, I have quite a few personal projects to fill up my time! But anyway, back to the mural.....

My beloved Yogawood in Collingswood, NJ (my first real yoga studio "home"), moved to a new studio last November, and I was hired to create something for the new space. I had previously painted a large mural in their Riverton studio in 2011, and I was thrilled to be asked to work for them again. It was a long process from start to finish, including major color color change early on when the studio's freshly painted walls were repainted a lighter color, and an incredible 58 man-hours spent doing the actual painting. I was very thankful to have a painting assistant during each of my 5 painting sessions, as compared to the 2011 mural, which I painted almost completely by myself.

The project started in mid November, when I met with Yogawood owner, Beth Filla, got a tour of the space & discussed what her goals were for the project. She wanted something very different from the last mural, inspired by henna designs. She initially wanted it to be graphic & non-representational, but I suggested it might be nice to have an Indian temple wall. Years ago, when I lived in Philadelphia, I took yoga classes at a studio near Rittenhouse square, named the Yoga Loft. The entryway was painted beautifully like a temple, complete with elephants & and jungle plants. It was really unique and made a strong impression on me. When I tried to look up the the Yoga Loft at the start of the project, I found out it had closed down shortly after I stopped attending classes in 2008 or 2009, so any inspiration from the mural would just have to live on in my memories.

After the meeting, I sat down at my drawing desk with many different photos of henna designs & temple art for guidance and started drawing many pages of quick, compositional sketches. I probably did about 30 - 40 of these, to try to get all my good ideas out. 

After going through the drawings & picking out my favorites, I used multiple sheets of tracing paper to enlarge, refine, & ink them before scanning into the computer.
Using photoshop, I added colors & manipulated my drawings over a photo of the wall, creating a true preview of the final design. Having a digital version was also helpful for the actual painting, as I used a projector to make sure everything was properly positioned

If you look close, you can see the shadow from the projector, as I trace over the guides for the light purple color. I had used a projector with the 2011 mural, with great results. Using it with this project was not quite so easy. I separated the painting process by color, and for the first color, it went great. Trying to line up the projector for the next colors was much harder, as there were so many tiny details to the design, & moving the projector a few centimeters in the wrong direction would throw off the whole design. While I was still thankful to have it, I'm going to change my approach for the next mural project to avoid wasting so much time with projector set up - perhaps just using it to get a pencil drawing up on the wall, not paint.

Day 2 of painting we made lots of progress - I even crazily thought I might get it completed in 1 more session! Hah! I was still 4 sessions away at this point.

By the time we got to the mandala in the center, I had given up on using the projector, and utilized the old string/thumbtack circle method I learned in grade school it worked really well!

The door was another challenge - I couldn't use the projector because the design was so intricate & the door was too dark to properly project on (even using black background with white lines). I ended up just painting it freehand over the course of many, many hours. I suffered from OCD symptoms trying to get it perfect. I'm sure there is a yoga lesson in there, there is no such thing as perfect!

When we started applying the brown paint, progress seemed to come fast........

............but there was still lots of little details to get hung up on.

At the beginning on the last painting session, finishing seemed like an unattainable goal. Breathe, exhale, repeat.

But- just before midnight on the final day, things came together.

I was a bit loopy when this shot was taken - this is me trying to feign excitement, when all I felt was fatigue, lol. Thanks to my sister, Ali Lopez, for taking it, as I was really to pack up & go with no photos.  I still have to get back there & take some nicer shots for my portfolio & new website. The new website that I've been (not) working on since July, ahh. 

But that's a story for another post....
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