Thursday, March 31, 2016

End of Day #11 (2016): Mural painting at the School of the Integrated Arts in Santa Ana, Costa Rica.

Day #11 (2016): Mural painting at the School of the Integrated Arts in Santa Ana, Costa Rica. 

Touching up and putting the final protective coating on the now painted overhead concrete beam (viga).  Having to work around security cameras, but surrounding the side door of the building with murals did bring it together, I think.   This last detail took much longer than I thought, in part because I was partially blocking the doorway with scaffolding and so had awkward access.  Done now.  Whew.  

Why birds?  Aside from obvious symbolic reasons, one day last year I was struggling with what to paint when pigeon poop landed at my feet.  Many nest over the site of this last stretch of murals.  Sometimes they land on the patio and sit, unafraid.  Add to that, the winds on site, particularly in the morning makes the birds fly around, often hovering, sometimes diving here and there.  Inspiration comes sometimes in obvious ways.  In any case, I used an abstraction of birds as a motif and a shameless decorative element.  

The opening of my watercolor show is tonight and then a little packing up tomorrow and I fly back to Oregon on Saturday. 

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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

End of Day #10 (2016): Mural painting at the School of the Integrated Arts in Santa Ana, Costa Rica.  

Today I taught a class session for Aquinas College about the mural and the embedded themes in it.  It was fun.  I spent the rest of the day refining a few areas and preparing and finally painting a large  and long concrete beam over the side door of the school.  It served to unite two sides of the project.  I ran out of light this evening but took a few shots.  I will add some veils of glaze in the morning and call it good.  The decision to use the birds, palomas in this case, is because there are so many overhead as I paint.  They also play well thematically and are fun to paint.  

Also see:

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

End of Day #9 (2016): Mural painting at the School of the Integrated Arts in Santa Ana, Costa Rica. I took Day #8 out to go with my colleague and research partner, Jorge Acevedo, to visit old friends in the Terraba and Boruca indigenous communities. Am back working on the mural today. I touched-up and applied acrylic varnish on finished areas. I also worked on the installation of the watercolor show. More of the same tomorrow, but it is nearing completion.

I am including a before and after shot of the work this session below.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

End of Day #7: Mural painting at the School of the Integrated Arts in Santa Ana, Costa Rica. A day of dabbing, details, making adjustments to this and that -- and of taking new documentation with a Nikon D5000 (instead of my trusty iPhone). The shots in today's post are of all parts of the six-year project, including some details. Apologies if you already have seen some of this. 
My son Ruben Mills today worked on video documentation with more to do tomorrow. I still have a few details to attend to but the whole thing is feeling rather tight right now, and so I am growing more confident and happy. All of the new work will be coated with a special satin sealer-varnish to protect it. I will post again next week. The formal inauguration will be held in November. 
In a related project, I am showing some of my postcard watercolors in the adjacent gallery--as if anyone needed more Mills-Pinyas art right now. Images from that installation tomorrow or so. 



Friday, March 25, 2016

End of Day #6: at the School of the Integrated Arts in Santa Ana, Costa Rica.
There is plenty of detail to keep me busy for a few more days but the bulk of the decisions are done and fixed in paint now. The two large panels of shadowy figures play well graphically, I think, and fit with the notion of primordial, even primal drama, hot dance and life-inspired theater...implicit issues in this mural. Also eroticism, flirtation, love and birth are touched on again and again—the play of human drama at the base of artistic expression. Jorge and I had a delicious conversation over lunch and a good cabernet about all of this. We have decided to have the inauguration in November when my family can be here (and perhaps someone from Linfield, where I teach). We are planning a publication of some sort, looking for good writers or a poet...
It is very hard to get still photos of the work that really capture the optical scan that being here provides. Taking my friend Jerry Jensen's advice, I am asking my son, Ruben Mills, to shoot video of the entire project. Today I measured the walls and was surprised to find that the entire six-year project covers roughly 2400 square feet, of which I will have finished 745 in 2016. 
I am including a few details from the drawings on the columns in this post as well as the second shadow panel.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

End of Day #5: Another full day up and down the scaffold at the School of the Integrated Arts in Santa Ana, Costa Rica. 
I continued to work on the upper tier, I drew figures on the columns and lay in the shadow imagery on the ochre panels. A good day in terms of unifying the overall design a bit more. Another day on the shadow imagery and other touch-up and refinement and I can start to detail a few things further. 
The imagery on one of the panels was a bit, well, nude.  (I do love life drawing!) My good wife Isabel pointed out that children would see it and so, as a good husband I took a deeper look and transformed the image in terms of the Origin theme I started with, here about biological origins, romance and sex in a procreative sense. I added imagery to underscore this reading. I should add that the local folks are not terribly prudish, in fact my sponsor, Jorge, says the mural panels that do contain a fair amount of eroticism, have not drawn criticism at all. Still, I am grateful to Isabel for leading me to consider the wider topic at hand. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

End of day #4: Another full day up and down the scaffold at the School of the Integrated Arts in Santa Ana, Costa Rica. 

All surfaces have had at least two passes of development. Some figures are emerging through charcoal line work. Doubt is giving way to inspiration. I changed a couple of panels from last year that were bugging me. A Bacchus figure is gone. A couple of fetuses, the so-called "precious twins" of Mesoamerican mythology came in. I am still on the Pythagorean "music of the spheres" vs. indeterminacy thing but have not yet pulled string to make arcs at intervals...that should be fun. There are some stinker parts that remain but it is starting to take shape. 

End of day #3: Mural work at the School of the Integrated Arts (Escuela Municipal de Artes Integradas, EMAI) Santa Ana, Costa Rica. 
All surfacers are now covered with at least a base layer of "de-calced" and stumbled paint and most have two or more layers with a degree of formal development. I am staying with abstract geometry overlaying the texture layer, particularly on the long frieze, which measures about 75' wide on this side and about the same on the other, already painted. The ancient notion of the Music of the Spheres, Pythagorean harmonic intervals and indeterminacy remain of interest to me. I plan to stretch a string to establish drawn arcs in charcoal, at standard (Pythagorean) harmonic intervals, for integration in the base layer. Not sure what I want to do with the larger (now ochre) panels but some of the arcs may descend. 

End of day #2:  When one does mural work one has a lot to time to contemplate this and that. Something about being up high, in this case braced against strong gusts of wind, and a few “bombetas” going off every little while, strangers walking by muttering…and me, throwing color around, is like being under the influence of a fine existential wine, big and red, of course. 
The mural cycle I am creating has been, from inception, about origins, personal and cultural transformation through the integration of the arts. 
This last section I am doing now is half a block from the ascending hoard of figures I painted the first couple of years, figures that invoke dance, theater, music and of course the plastic arts. The further from those tall panels the more abstract my thinking has become. Perhaps it is the horizontal axis of the architectural panels rather than the vertical. Running up is different than running across. Extension versus ascension. 
The ancient mathematical-mystical concept of “The Music of the Spheres” is suggested by orbs and arcs in the flow of color racing along the frieze I am painting. I think it was originally a Pythagorian notion. Vibration and motion, sound and color, proportion and intervals. Hmmm. I might play that up a bit more…I recall learning to play harmonics on the violin as a kid. I was fascinated that by lightly touching the string in just the right place harmonic tones were created. A little off, nada—or worse, a screech.

Yet this ancient idea sought musical and mathematical order and certainty. Ours is a time of the Uncertainty Principle. I like to think art plays in the badlands between the two. Neither too calculated and cold—nor overly spontaneous and perhaps chaotic. That is what I am doing, I feel, mediating between these two poles. 
These shots show the second wave of glazes and veils. More to come. I have one more large panel to paint with the first base layer. My colleague and the school’s director and founder, Jorge Acevedo, has personally prepared the surfaces for me, making it possible to dedicate myself to the art itself. He is a wonderful host and moreover, my friend of more than 30 years.
The main panels from 2010-2015 around the corridor from the work I am doing now.

End of day #1. I painted the base layer on the upper frieze and columns. Windy and hot and so the paint was drying very fast. Nothing on the large panels yet. This is of course Holy Week and so there are parades, horses and colorful carts plus explosions that nearly knocked me off of the scaffolding. Feels good to be working.