Last August (2018) I had the opportunity to travel across Canada to paint a 110ft x 25ft mural in the ♡ of Calgary. With this freedom, and my only limitation being a 110ft x 25ft wall, I came up with this.
This mural is meant to activate our imagination about a species so vital to our ecosystem and so often ignored for economic and technical advances.
In my conceptual design I challenge the viewers experience through scale and dimension. Through the illusion of flight and colour, I challenge the perception of reality, as I question how surreal it actually is. With negative space in transparent wings, I represent both the source of their survival and path to extinction. Through scale and dimension, I flip the table on intimidation, ultimately putting myself, and the community around me in a lesser position of power, amongst the swarm of survival.
When I arrived in Calgary, I arrived to an abandoned building wall, I couldn’t be more excited to get my hands on it! As it was a multi surface wall it had so much texture, surface variety, and character. I was looking forward to transforming this surface from a not so inviting abandoned building, to a hot spot for photos, gatherings, and positive thinking. The height and length of the building was both intimidating and exciting.
Before I could start painting, a supply run was a must. I hoped on the bus and traveled to the Home Dept where I had pre ordered my paint. I spent most of the day picking out my colours and waiting for them to be mixed, then I transported my supplies and gallons of paint to the mural site.
Upon my return to the mural site, I couldn’t wait to start priming the wall in prep to start painting. I already knew what I was going to paint, I had designed it earlier in photoshop, my only mission once in Calgary was the execution. I started by painting the lower half of the wall, and worked my way up from there.
Once I got the scissor lift, I was on a roll painting up to 25ft high.
The lift made painting at height a lot easier and faster. At this point, their were a lot of community members passing by daily and seeing the progress. Across the street was Community Natural Foods Store, it was the perfect location for my Bee Together mural.
As the week went on, I started to add more and more colour to the mural.
My favourite part of the mural was painting the Queen ♛ Bee , it was a multi coloured bee and a huge focal point to my mural. At this point, I was kindly given two brushes from a Montreal muralist painting in the city. He had a lot of experience working on this type of textured surface and suggested them, they really helped me get in the groves of the mural surface.
In the midst of August, I painted through heat and smoke warnings.
There were a lot of BC fires carrying over and smoking up the city of Calgary. The black paint took the longest. I had to paint up to three coats of paint just to get enough coverage. A large part of this mural design had to do with the two toned black and large shapes. In order for this to come across visually strong, the painting had to be flat, solid, and with clean edges.
The last night I had the scissor lift, I stayed up till 4am working on the upper half of the mural.
Luckily I had meet a fellow artist from Sheridan in Calgary who offered to help me with lights and keep me company. I also meet a nice lady who brought us a radio, some snacks and a sweater.
The last bee I worked on was the yellow bee. It was a huge focal point overlapping the doorway to the building.
In each bee, the main elements I focused on were shape, line quality, gradients and colour. I payed close attention to details making sure that lines were crisp even close up.
The weekend I finished the mural ( September 1st) was the weekend of the BUMP block party. This day was filled with two large mural tours around the city followed by the festival block party that was held at the same address as my mural location.
Throughout this whole process, Jennie Price was my amazing Photographer and Videographer. It was a lot of fun having her around ☼
This experience was filled with excitement, good people and new learning curves. I had a great time in Calgary meeting locals, artists from around the world and I couldn't have felt more welcome from the community members who'd stop and say hi to strangers who became friends.