Great Willy Wonka Wall of China Town

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Just on the edge of China Town in San Fantastic-rancisco is a tech co-op space called The Vault. It’s underground, it’s full of computer-bound entrepreneurs, and it’s on the old site of the famous Ghirardelli chocolate factory (circa 1863). That’s right, this one’s an antique.

As nobody in the space seemed to have the foggiest idea of the place’s historical significance, the community manager (SO MANY STARTUP WORDS) decided an old advertisement for the chocolate factory would be the perfect fit for the reception area’s mural. Only problem was that I’d never actually done any text on a mural – ever… And as this was more of a ‘replicate and exaggerate’ sort of job, I needed to be a little more planned/precise/particular about how I would get this thing up on a wall, rather than just freestyling it as I usually do. It was also to be on a grey wall and using only black paint, unlike my standard bright colours – so I managed to pull the ‘artist’ card and bargain a bit of gold into the equation too.

The whole thing was rather a trendy sounding idea.

So I did a bit of photoshop work to see how it could be placed, fused the advertisement with some doodles from an old Ghirardelli sign that I liked, projected it on the wall, slapped some masking tape on the straight line edges, and got hectic with the black paint. When I say hectic, I mean as precise as possible. (Neck pain for days. I’m fine now though, thanks Klaus for the amateur chiropractic work.)

I did have to take some liberties with the text as the blocky resolution of the projector proved to be only adequate for a rough guide. Anyway, once it was all done, I had intended on gold leafing just the shadow of the heading (as planned, and shown in red on the projection). Needless to say, that freestyling side of me came out in the eleventh hour, and significantly more gold leaf ended up getting chucked on the wall. Which I’m stoked about, because not only does gold leaf look like Willy Wonka’s golden ticket, it is also just basically extremely epic.

I have been breathing out gold leaf dust flecks ever since, like a mythical creature. Note to future users of gold leaf: probably wear a respiratory filter unless you plan to attend some sort of dungeons and dragons convention every day for the rest of your life.

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Burn, baby, burn.

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I had not planned to attend Burning Man this year, although I’d considered it and ruled it out. So in a massive yes-man move, I accepted my architecture client’s offer of a ticket on the Saturday (as he was the only person I really needed to work for that week) and drove out with a 16-year veteran (nice to meet you Glenn!) and my megapal Katie (who took the above photo) late on Sunday night.

I won’t go into the whole thing too much, but suffice to say that I had the opportunity to play the flute for a herd of cows on the way out to Black Rock City (life highlight) and the week maintained that standard of epicness throughout.

After painting several people and items of furniture (clearly all of which were ill-documented), I noticed a mate in my camp, Rowan, assembling a cart to pull some speakers behind his bicycle for that night. All the time in the world on my hands at that point, I offered to paint it. Playa landscape inspired.

In the spirit of what is truly an inspiring festival of fleeting art, it only felt right for the work to be completely transformed by the environment, come morning. What I’m trying to say is that it was completely buggered, but that was cool.

Have You Been Working Out?

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… ‘Cause you’re looking buff!

(CLASSIC GAG.)

The portable piece to match the Flatiron mural is complete! The background is an abstraction of a section of the Colorado Rocky Mountains, and creeping in from the left there is an American Buffalo/Bison. The ‘canvas’ is birch wood (takes me back to my architecture university days of model making!), so it took a little bit of extra priming. Big ups to Klaus who collaborated with the taping, geometries and colour advisory… And also helped me with the opening gag for this post.

Let it be known that the proceeds of this work is directly funding the software with which I’m writing my next screenplay. Literally, art for art’s sake. It’s like that movie ‘the human centipede’ – except without all the people dying. Maybe it’s more like an arty ecosystem. I think I should buy a felt hat. Or grow out my armpit hair.

Did I mention the house this work is for is in an area called Cow Hollow? Bovine coincidence? I think not.

Wait! I’ve got one more:

Q. What did the buffalo say when his son left for school?

A. Bison.

Gold.

Painty Pointy Precipice

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I was commissioned to paint this mural for a house in Cow Hollow. The request was for the image of a Bison as a tribute to Boulder, Colorado (and which I also thought was appropriate considering the mural’s location).

Enlisting Klaus, we set about taping up and painting an abstract version of the Flatirons rock formation for the background. I then-

Nope. No, I then did nothing else.

I intended on drawing a giant Bison on this chunk of dining room wall, but never got the chance. It seems our patron was so pleased with the work, that he wanted us to leave it as-is, and paint him a separate artwork that is in keeping with the theme, but one that he can also take with him when he moves out of the house one day. How good is that? Keep ’em peeled for part 2!

What Does the Fox Say?

 

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In the interest of staying relevant and on the pulse of popular culture. Wait. Let me start again. In a convenient coincidence, I have just finished a mural of foxes in the same week as the release of that catchy new hit single  “The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)” (dingadingdingding ding) touted as this year’s Gangnam Style – so you know it’s a ripper.

Finally someone (three former members of the Harvard Fox Club) let me paint a massive double-height wall in their residential home with the help of many pals, two big-ass ladders, a ton of nachos and the occasional beer. After drawing a shockingly vague sketch on an old cardboard box of how I wanted the geometries done, it took about a month (a few nights every week and a party) and here’s the progress:

Yep, little guy on the right is totally dreaming up those shapes.

An overwhelming number of people who came to see the mural commented how strikingly ‘3D’ it appeared in person. About 4 people. Such feedback pleased me as it is, after all, 2 dimensional pretending to be 3 dimensional. Which is not that many dimensions compared to how many we might actually be existing amongst according to string theory. Anyone who has ever wondered about space and time should watch the series The Fabric of the Cosmos: It’s fascinating.

Special thanks to all who helped: Klaus, Paul, Pascale, the 2 Canadian Alex’s, Katie, Kramer and all you cats at the post-masking tape party. And the landlord – for not spewing about it.

If you think this is the last fox post, buddy – you are wrong. All good things come in threes.

Thievery, family and paint.

So I vanished from the interwebs for a couple of weeks – and for good reason, well three good reasons. The foremost being: I had no computer. Why? Well this mural above is largely at fault. So am I, but I would certainly prefer to put the blame on something inanimate who will wear it with far more grace than me. Yes – I was painting this mural with Klaus at [freespace] with my car parked out the front (“who parks a car in SOMA?!” – says everyone after the fact.) and my window got smashed, my trunk opened and my laptop and camera gear (among many other things) were flogged.

This is just a symptom of me being a huge noob in San Francisco. Yep, it’s a learning curve. Turns out everyone I mention my tale of woe to has had something stolen from them within the last year in this city. Most of them not lucky enough to have travel insurance and to end up with a faster-than-Usain-Bolt, higher-resolution-than-real-life, brand new macbook pro. Like moi. What a smug little bastard. There it is again. Lemons to lemonade. I do still find myself sans a decent camera, but that will come.

Anyway – the half-finished mural. It’s a collab with Dr Klaus again (although my mum who was in town last week (WHICH WAS EXCELLENT) did have a hand in mixing some colours for us) and there’ll be some ink on top. Perhaps the dripping whitewash will give you a clue…

… Okay the suspense is killing me. I’m thinking of drawing a cow on it.

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We also did these posters that will be cut in half, branded and gifted as thank you’s for the good people who donated to the second month of [freespace]. We taped up some poster paper and when choosing colours, I suggested “let’s just do the whole thing gold”. No objections from Klaus.

In retrospect, the Dr Klaus/thedarclaud mural style may have been ominous – looking like smashed glass and all, one might say we predicted the theft from my car, Carlos. Which would make us clairvoyant. So my next post may be just purely tea leaf-based art.