As part of his Laureate na nÓg Big Picture project, my good pal and birthday bud, PJ Lynch took on the task of organising SIX permanent murals (or muriels, as we say in Dublin) for a school in Cork, the very lovely Gaelscoil Mhainistir na Corann in Midleton. He invited Niamh Sharkey, Chris Judge, Lauren O’Neill, Michael and myself to join him and each take on a wall. Here are some photos of each mural as it happened, from blank to finished – click on the first photo to get larger images and some notes on what’s happening. Then keep clicking right.
PJ’s wall; The Children of Lir
PJ had prepped his piece. Drawn the outline, blown it up on the computer and printed it out onto A4 sheets. Here he has reassembled the image on the wall.
He transferred it onto the wall using graphite paper (like carbon paper but not as dirty) tucked in behind the drawing.
First colours in
more layers of colour.. PJ worked in ordinary paints at first but on day two he switched to oils and began all the detail work..
finished piece – The Children of Lir – the colours are gorgeous and it looks like it has always been on this wall. There’s a real feeling of depth.
Niamh’s wall; the King of Ireland
Sizing up the wall- how to begin?
Putting on gesso – a ground which allows Niamh to add texture
Once that was dry Niamh added a layer of pale orange with gold dust in it!
After a bit of a nervous wait for the loan of a projector Niamh projected the images from her book onto the wall and drew the lines on (Chris and Lauren also used projectors to get their images up onto the wall. The ever-positive and effervescent Muinteoir Grainne looks on.
End of day one and some basic colour on but loads still to do. Note the colour of the moon – purple and black underpainting.
Coffee break on day two
Final image – the colours positively glow on the wall! It packs a fantastic punch as you come through the door.
Lauren’s wall; Gulliver in Lilliput
Lauren on day one, getting the basic colours in, mixing them so they mimic the watercolour original in the book. Lauren used a projector to blow up an image from her book.
end of day one and Lauren has a lot done.
End of day two and all the colours and lines are in and the whole thing comes alive and pops off the wall. It looked even more lovely next day when daylight hit it. The kids loved finding the small details in the foreground when they viewed it with PJ.
Chris’s wall; Irish Creatures, Past & Present
Chris is in love with his wall…
Chris did a mural of Irish creatures, past and present, dominated by a basking shark
Irish elk (extinct monster of a yoke) and badger and hare
eyes and mouths go on the jellyfish using Posca markers
As much of the mural as I could get in! Chris tackled the largest wall, began on the wall last and finished on Sunday afternoon! It looks fab, great strong fun images for a slightly dark corridor.
My wall; image from The Long March
My wall. I came prepared with the drawing of Choona from the book blown up and printed out on sheets of A3 paper. Here I’m using it to decide where the hills and cliff lines should be pencilled on.
paints and brushes ready to go
basic grey for sky in – a relief to finally have paint on the wall
blocking in all the basic greys
beginning to paint in the detail
Now that the background is almost all done I need to draw in the outline for the figure. I’m using graphite paper (the dark grey sheet behind the photocopies) and I draw on top of this photocopy to transfer the lines.
End of day one and I’m happy with how far I’ve got.
Grey mixed for painting Choona. This all landed upside-down on the floor when I knocked the palette off my ladder 😦 Luckily I’d kept some back…
The cliff is done and the eagle shadow; onto the figure.
Blocking in the greys. Then everything goes wrong when I paint Choona’s face. It’s a mess. I panic. Niamh comes upstairs to calm me down but it’s a couple of hours before Im back on track and I have to ask everyone who drops by to keep moving as I’m running out of time. Once I redo the face I relax a bit but now I’m racing the clock to get everything else done.
So no time to stop and take photos of the mistakes and panic! Here I am down to the wire with some details left to do and the outline
Done! It was 8.30 pm when we left the school on Sunday night, relieved, wrecked and giddy!
The school requested an image from my book The Long March (see two previous blogposts) as Midleton is home to the Feathers sculpture which commemorates the Choctaw gift to Ireland in 1847.
The whole team -Niamh Sharkey, Chris Judge, Jenny Murray (CBI), Lauren O’Neill, me, Aingeala (L na nÓg project manager), PJ Lynch – Laureate na nÓg.
Aingeala and Jenny looked after us so well (of course) and the school laid on a constant supply of sandwiches and scones and smiles and encouragement plus a laughter-filled night with the teachers at Muinteoir Gráinne’s on Saturday night. Unfortunately Michael was sick – whooping cough – and missed the trip, but he will tackle a wall for the school in May or June. We’ll add photos then.
Top photo of Niamh and myself beginning our murals is one PJ quietly snapped from the return of the stairs.