My daughter-in-law Janine, helping to paint.
I was the first person at the mural painting area Saturday morning, and found myself nervously pacing up and down looking for missed details. Sure enough, I found more unnumbered spots! Jennifer, the founder of the Seward Mural Society, explained that one of the rules for being accepted as a muralist for this event was to commit to paint for a whole day, painting for a few hours was discouraged. This way everyone was briefed at once, and eliminated interruptions. I liked this rule, it sounded like good planning.
Slowly people began to arrive and it soon became clear that only five of us were there to paint. I expected twenty painters, and planned the mural for twenty. With a sinking feeling in my stomach it occurred to me that this scenario hadnâ€™t been played out in any of my nighttime dreams. One of the five persons was my wonderful daughter-in-law, who had never painted, but was there for moral support. So, the tiny crew began. Shortly, a familiar face appeared. It was a fellow painter and long time friend, J.D. Cole, a middle school art teacher from my home town of Palmer. He was accompanying his family who were singing at the festival. He asked if he could help and I couldnâ€™t say â€œyesâ€ fast enough. Now there were six!
The next learning curve was figuring out how to use the brushes. With the exception of one, no other brush held a point. J.D. had the pointing brush so he became the iris vein specialist. The big broad foam brushes were excellent for large spaces, and we soon learned that holding the brush perpendicular to the board created a thin line. Yellow did not cover with one coat, it looked blotchy and uneven. I made a mental note that someone would have to give yellow a second coat tomorrow. Color numbers were marked on the sides and the lids of the paint cans, but some poured paint into smaller cups that were not numbered. So far this method did not create problems. The small crew knew what colors they chose and if necessary could reference my paint color chart. By noon the crew grew to twelve. Progress was very slow and I had to stop and explain the routine to each new person who arrived. So much for the plan.
By early afternoon I had screaming back and neck pain from bending over the tables and reaching out to the center of the boards. Unfortunately there was no time to stop, and no time to rest. I think we all felt we were in a crisis mode. Exhausted by the end of the day, it seemed like we had about a fourth of the mural painted, and some of that needed a second coat.
My dreams that night expanded to include a vivid array of colors, they became technicolor nightmares.
Gail Niebrugge, Alaska Artist