So, I pretty much can't believe that the mural has been done for 4 whole days now. It not only seems like yesterday that I was just beginning on the far right hand side, but also that I was just beginning the planning of it (more than 6 months ago). And now, if you drive down Main Street in Downtown Lynchburg, there she is.
I wanted to blog more along the way, but, well, I just couldn't. This was the most rewarding, stressful, exciting, tiring, thrilling, fun, crazy experience I've ever had as an artist. Did I mention tiring? It wasn't that painting on the lift for 7 or 8 hours each day was that physically tiring (it was at first...but I got used to it), I just could not stop from thinking about it. And that wore me out.
But wow, I could not have done this without the Lord. He was with me constantly.
Since I last blogged, I had a lot go on (besides the obvious of finishing it...). I'll try to fill you in...
1. My Mom and Dad visited!
Ok, the word "visited" is an understatement. They not only got to experience our new city for the first time, but they worked their butts off painting the mural! Dad was on the 2nd lift, gridding, blocking in sections and basically doing whatever I told him to, and Mom was on the ground level, getting the water started, keeping us fed, and, as always, entertained. I think the two of them being here turned 3 days of work into at least 10.
I loved having them here. It was too short. But they had to get back to their awesome artsy furniture business, SonRooms Art Furniture.
2. I had the help of 3 more volunteer groups!
First up, we had the staff from the Academy of Fine Arts (whose wall I was painting) come out and begin blocking in different colors for the water. These people have become my friends and support group throughout this project - because we got to see each other every day! So that was fun, having them come out and contribute to the project.
Next, we had a group from the Bank of the James come help (pictured above). Another group of people I had never met - so this was just super cool to once again have total strangers willing to come out and paint. Their building is just down the street, and the mural is something they will get to see and experience every day...and that's what this was all about, giving the people of Lynchburg this mural as a landmark in our city. Something they can drive by each day and smile at.
Lastly, a fun couple that lives downtown, Phillip and Andrea, wanted to help. So they came out and painted a section of the wall I couldn't reach from the lift. It only took them 45 minutes or so, but it was a great help none the less and cool to meet more people who wanted to invest in the downtown art scene. Thanks Philip and Andrea!
3. The mural got some more press
(photography by Jill Nance Waugh)
Woot woot! Front page of the News and Advance! (Unfortunately, this honor was shared with the Boston bombing suspect - why say suspect, we know he did it...) Darrell Laurant wrote a creative and very cool story about the project, complete with a description of my shoes. (pictured below...)
4. I basically just painted a lot
People keep saying, "You painted that SO fast!". And yes, I guess I did. But, the thing is, is I had a plan, and the plan was very detailed, and after mapping it out I said it would be done in 5 to 6 weeks. And it was done in 5. Each day I went out with a mission, and most days I accomplished that mission, somedays I didn't, and somedays I did even more than expected. But I just painted. And it was fun and joyful at times, it was stressful and scary at times, and it was tiring and I wanted to go home and take a bath at times. But, at the end of each day, I wasn't leaving until things were perfect (whatever "perfect" meant that day).
Here are some of my favorite photos from the 5 weeks of "mural-life":
This photo was taken by our friends Brock and Kristi on "Day 1". I did not like seeing this photo at the time, because it made me realize just how much wall was yet to be painted. Yikes. But they would walk by almost every day (Kristi was pregnant and a little over due so they were walking and walking and walking). When they finally stopped walking by it was because their son Logan had arrived!
I met a lot of neat people while painting each day, one of which is Karen Covey, a photographer here in Lynchburg. Karen came out and photographed my progress a few times (her photos are the one above and the few below) and she would email them to me. I found that really cool - another Lynchburg resident investing in this project and connecting with me because of the mural. Karen is cool. So are her photos.
What I love about this photo by Karen is how small it makes me look (or how large it makes the dogwood look...). That specific dogwood was 17 feet tall.
And this photo by Karen I love because by this time during the project, I had completely forgotten that I was that high up on a lift. I really grew fond of the lifts. They became my trusted buddies. And as I said before, I am so thankful for D.L. Bryant, not just because he let me use his lifts at no charge, but because he invested himself in this project by checking on me almost daily, even bringing me an umbrella for shade when we had a weird hot spell.
A few more...
This photo I love because it represents a beginning. Not just for this mural, but for anything in life really. You start something big that you are called to do, and the first few steps might just look weird or indiscernable. People saw me paint that first day and probably thought, "What the heck is this going to be?". But it got unveiled before them.
I started this mural and thought "What the heck is God going to do?" And that got unveiled before me too.
I love this photo because this represents the dedication of the volunteers we had. This is Kevin, from the Bank of the James. He said he'd paint every spot behind and under the air conditioning unit, and well, he did. Kudos Kevin!
This is the day before I finished painting. Although I physically "painted" this mural, my husband Brent has equal part in making this happen. Because without his support and daily (sometimes hourly) encouragement, it wouldn't have happened. He not only cheered me on, kept me fed, and prayed for me constantly - he nit picked every square inch of that mural to make sure it was top notch. What can I say, he has an eye for detail (or something others refer to as OCD...)
I made a last minute game change with the sultry singer in the mural - she was supposed to have big round, white sunglasses. However, I wore these killer lime green sunglasses every day I painted and decided to leave my mark by giving her the same ones. The best part is that these sunglasses were free - given to me by Benaiah Clothing, a local screen printing company here in the Burg. Well, now they are rocking on the side of Main Street.
Lastly, I love this shot by my handsome hubby via instagram. Yesterday was my 31st birthday, and we celebrated by busting out our rusting South Florida beach cruisers and taking on the Blackwater Creek Trail, leading us about a mile from our house all the way to downtown...and the mural.
So what now?
Well, back to the lettering business at the moment. But I've had some inquiries about possible mural projects which I'll be looking into as well...so only the Lord knows what the future holds. And isn't that comforting?
I never dreamed that when I left teaching a year ago to become a "full-time artist" that this would be in the plans, but God's plans are way above our own. And that doesn't mean they are always going to be as "big" as this mural was. But, we can trust Him to lead us...no matter where He takes us.
I'm thankful for a lot with this experience. I'm thankful for Ted Batt from the Academy of Fine Arts for heading up this project and doing whatever he could do to make it happen. I'm thankful for the help from friends and family and volunteers I had along the way. I'm thankful for the donors (private donors, grants, James T. Davis Paint and D.L. Bryant) for financially making this happen. I'm thankful for the people that drove by each day honking and yelling encouraging things out the window. For the strangers that stopped by to talk each day. For the facebook support, as I posted photos of my progress each day for all my friends and family from all over to see. Even for the instagram encouragement. I'm thankful for the day Andrew and Samm hunted all over town to find me candied ginger because I was nausaus from the lift, and for Kelly Allen from the Academy bringing me a cream soda on a day I felt discouraged. I'm thankful for my parents hard work helping me. I'm thankful for Brent, who was my "go-to" when it came to getting more paint, more supplies, more snacks, or just a set of eyes to look and tell me what was or wasn't working.
But mostly, I'm thankful that this brought me closer to the Lord. I had a lot of confidence going into this project - but that was veiled by a little naivity. It was bigger and more difficult than I expected. And, I know without a doubt, that God helped me paint this. He uplifted me, He challenged me, He even put obstacles in my path at times, but He did all that to help me trust Him more. And the more I trusted Him, the more things came together. And then, one day, I looked up and we had painted the whole wall. Together. Me. The community. My family. My friends. And God.
WE painted this mural for Lynchburg.
Cheesy sounding? Sure. But I like cheesy.
Otherwise this blog post would just say, "Hey, look what I did. The end." And that's not as cool.