Wow – what a weekend. Or rather, what a crazy last couple of weeks. We’ve known about this event since January. I agreed to take part early on as a dancer back in February, thinking it would be a great opportunity to push out of my comfort zone and get into killer shape for the summer. I lasted through about six weeks of practice after my mom passed away before acknowledging that I was just not ready to commit the amount of time involved, and that when it came down to it…I just didn’t have the courage to rock the traditional samba costumes on stage. So when the opportunity arose to create some decorations for the venue, I stepped up. Partly to help with the guilt, partly for the challenge, and partly to have my own contribution to what will hopefully be an annual event.
This art project finally started about ten days ago. I finally figured out what I would need for canvas sizes but still wasn’t sure about how to accomplish painting them. We were also midway through kitchen cabinet renovations and the house was in a bit of a state. Nevermind that – I was determined to bring these to reality.
Step 1: A blank canvas.
Okay, okay, where to start. Luckily while waiting for the artists at Mona Lisa to cut four peices of this, I was able to wander the aisles and come across a six inch foam roller and even better – 1gallon tubes of student’s acrylic paint on sale. I trucked that up to the counter to add to an ever increasing pile. We have an empty room in our basement right now – formerly the guest bedroom, since Frank moved into an office last year we’ve since moved the bed upstairs. An empty room sure came in handy, especially to keep our cats out.
Step 2: a rare Selfie.
I’m serious about how rare these are. I have never been able to provide an artist’s statement and photograph to the Downtown Calgary Association in three years of working with them, simply because I am never comfortable in front of a camera. Anyways, keep going.
Step 3: Dirty Feet
Enormous canvasses meant having to paint in stages. I’d start in the middle with the base colour and move outward, gradually adding in the gradient tone I wanted for the ends. That meant I could complete two thirds of a canvas before leaving it to dry, after which I’d fold the completed finished end up, stand on top of it, and paint the other side in a different gradient. The result? Dirty feet and lots of crawling trips to the sink to wash up.
Step 4: Progress Shots
Once the canvas backgrounds had been finished, I was onto the next set of problems. First – how and where to hang these so that I could paint the figures on top. I don’t know how heavy these turned out – I’d guess about ten pounds each? Taking the banners from painting on the floor to figuring out I could use Frank’s construction clamps on a pipe in our basement to paint on the wall was our eventual solution. Next, figuring out how to project four drawings that I’d done at 4 x 6 inches into 4 x 6 feet. Good news about the flashlight on the iPhone – it makes a decent shadow projector. Cut out my drawings, place them into an old euro frame, play in the dark for a little while, and I could trace the properly sized figures onto canvas with a soft white pencil. I have to laugh a little at how long the ladies took versus the capoeiristas.
Step 5: The First Reveal
Once all four pieces were painted, I needed to figure out how to hang them. I slept on it Friday night and woke up Saturday morning with an idea on how to make it all come together. This image was the first time seeing all four pieces completed and sitting together. I had to keep an open mind the entire time I was working on this project. Acrylic paint is not my normal medium. I’ve never painted at this size and was worried at first about the backgrounds being too flat or the figures not coming out to scale. I was thrilled to be able to hang them right on stage for the Brazilian Heat performance that night.
Step 6: Final Shot: Banners in Action
They made for a pretty epic backdrop to a very high energy show. I am so proud of my husband and our close friends for bringing this entire event from conception to reality. Frank also received his Monitor belt – the first of the instructor level belts in capoeira. We met doing this martial art, and actually received our first belts together in the very room that this event took place years ago. Now my husband has reached a formally recognized teacher level? Amazing.
A good weekend all in all and a solid feeling of accomplishment on a job well done.