Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I’d like to share something that I’m passionate about, being creative. This week I had this urge to draw. Really draw. To go big or go home. I had a burning need to plan and sink into the process. One of the most valuable aspects of art and creating is about the process. Never be afraid or self conscious to create. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but creating art can be very personal, spiritual, introspective and uplifting. This is why I love working with chalk. Chalk is forgiving and chalk is temporary.
Here’s some perspective on the space and scale…
What’s this mural about?
- This mural is for the people at QuickBase, Inc. to make them smile! Put something happy and bright in their day (our initials as a 60s rainbow ligature).
- It celebrates a weekly office event—Waffle Wednesday (golden waffle at the end of the rainbow)
- The art is themed around St. Patrick’s Day (rainbow, shamrock, leprechaun)
- Working towards minimalism has taught me about all the joys of letting go. What a shock! World’s best kept secret. Now that I know about this secret, I can create with less fear. It’s not about putting in hours of work that will soon be erased. It’s about knowing that only the physical footprint will be erased. My experience has been created. It’s a part of me forever.
What’s the process?
- Get your inspiration. Mine came from Jessica Hische. Amazing artist (hand letterer). Exceptional teacher (Skillshare course on Drop Caps). The culture at my office is supportive of this type of thing too. It wasn’t my idea to bring chalk art to the office, it was encouraged by our Waffle Wednesday chair.
- Ponder & Marinate. It starts with the simple question “what am I going to do?”. Let it swirl and brew.
- Research to narrow the clarity. I googled for a visual reference “rainbow letters” and found a very close proximation
- Sketch. I started to sketch out Qs and Bs and rainbows… and had to think about how to tie in a waffle (that is the one rule of our murals). Before I knew it I had a layout I used color pencils to choose a palette. I checked my chalk supply to finalize color choices. Decided on 4 (hot pink, yellow, green blue)
- Go time. Grab your tools, go to the wall. First items used, a yard stick and a level. Use to draw a 3′ straight line in the middle of the board. I took a cereal bowl (from the neighboring kitchen). I used it to trace, creating 3 circles, using the line as my horizontal guide. Knowing how all the stripes would work together was key. I started to fill in the main shapes with the inner most stripe (hot pink)
- Go slow and focus on your breathing for getting the circles filled in right. I noticed this made the arcs a lot cleaner. Far less lopsided than I usually do.
- Put your body into it. For the big arc (rainbow), I started on the left, visualized how it should go, used my shoulder as a pivot, and put my whole arm into it with a really good exhale. Exciting! It worked! A little off, but fixable by shaping.
- Create a skeleton first, build the forms on top (sketch then sculpt).
- Reassess. When it was almost done, I realized that it needed a Leprechaun. I searched for this on Dribbble.com. Found lots of great inspiration (never steal from these artists! this is their life and they are sharing it with us). I looked fast (as an exercise it can be fun to go quick) came away with some ideas for very graphical beards. Made the guy really hairy so that I didn’t have to get into the details of his coat and face.
- Use a damp Q-tip for details. Damp. Wet will drip. I use damp Q-tips for detail work like eyes and cleaning edges. Eyes are generally more pleasing when dark. So, I’ll create these by erasing what is already there.
What did I get out of it?
- Meditation—I let myself sink into going slow and breathing with intention (as one might do with yoga)
- Experiencing that a little planning does go a long way.
- Noticing that this was part illustration (the planning and the skeleton sketch), part sculpting (filling in the parts of the shapes that felt off, redirecting the bend of the line, without having to erase).
- Walking the line of complex and simple—There’s a lot going on here… Rainbow, Letters, Leprechaun, A Waffle, A Shamrock, Stripes that drip like Maple Syrup! Complexity and trying to say to much is a definite no in graphic design. On the flip side, know the rules to break the rules. All these details being grouped as one (more or less) element works for me.
- A piece of art I love looking at. Something I am proud of.
- Learning how to spell “leprechaun”