Monday, June 25, 2012


I just returned last night from Arcola, Illinois.  There is nothing I can put into words that will convey how awesome one of these events can be.
I was honored to be asked to act as a project leader this year and to design the mural for the "Word Famous Lawn Rangers"
Before I show you the contribution of my team, here is a look at the other amazing murals that appeared over the last 5 days:

I was fortunate to be surrounded by many old and new friends as we put the Lawn Ranger mural on the wall.  John, Shannon, Katie, Chance, Steve, Alicia, De and Bruce were all fantastic.  We had local help from several including a wonderful artist named Nancy who took on Acrylic paint (she's an oil painter) and did a great job of putting President Obama on the wall.  For those inclined to be anti-obama let me point out that it was an honor for the Lawn Rangers to have been asked to perform in his inauguration.  Republicans and Democrats alike marched with brooms and lawn mowers in hand to celebrate an american president...not a democrat or republican.
There have been rumors that I may have worn a kilt in the parade- I can't comment. I can only tell you it was great fun and an honor to have participated.
In a little over 2 years I've now been in charge of 3 murals and 2 "business" murals and have painted on many more.  It continues to be a wild ride that I wouldn't trade for the world.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Walldoug time again!

A couple of years ago, I attended my first Walldog event.  Dan Sawatzky invited me to paint on his wall and I was a bit nervous about it.  I hadn't painted anything of any size for a very long time.  I need not have worried.  It was so fun that I knew I'd be attending many more events.  I ended up working on several walls that year, and then attended a second meet in Wisconsin the next summer...almost immediately followed by a mini-meet back in Illinois.  I ended up painting a mural in my own town, and then this year a follow up mural in a nearby town.  Only a few days ago I completed two small "mural-signs" for businesses in Peoria. I guess you could say I've jumped in the deep end of the pool...and the water is fine.
So now I'm off to Arcola, Illinois tomorrow.  I'll soon be seeing good friends and once again painting on brick.  One difference is that this year I'm in charge of one of the murals.  I'll be gently guiding my team to put brush to brick and bring the World Famous Lawn Rangers mural to life.
I've just completed a small carved version of the mural. This will be presented to the town of Arcola to put up for auction. Proceeds will go towards maintaining the new murals and hopefully to add future murals.  The space on the right is for my group of painters to sign their name.  That will make the piece a one of a kind collector's piece for some bidder!

It's been a challenge to get moving on all the amazing things I want to create on the new cnc machine...but I know the right time is coming.  The weather is too nice and the murals have been calling. That's ok.  Soon the first real "project" is about to begin on it and I can't wait.  I hope you'll check in!
In the meantime, if you happen to be near Arcola, Illinois in the next 5 or 6 days...stop by!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Urban Progress

It was a great day today.  The weather was warm, but a cool breeze kept us going.  We came very close to completion, but didn't quite have enough of the dark brown/black mix of paint I'd prepared.  I made what I thought was more than enough, but I was wrong.  Tomorrow I'll wrap it up, and then project the second sign on the rear of the building. It's a logo for the artist's studio rental portion of the business.  It's is a nice logo and should paint quite quickly. I need to complete it quickly as this year's Walldog event in Arcola, Illinois is coming and I have some work to finish in order to be ready for it.

The brick on this side of the building has been a challenge, but well worth it.  Shannon Ingles helped with the border and filling in around the lettering as I completed it.  She's done really well and has been a great companion in working on the last couple of projects.  Today I subjected her to classic rock.  I'm hoping she recovers.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Police lights + mural projection = slow

I still have a sponsor logo to complete for the Toulon mural, but I'm already on to the next project.  A new business is opening in Peoria called "Urban Artifacts".  I've been hired to paint their business name above the door on the brick "mural style". 
The location of the new store is in an area of Peoria that some would consider less safe than other areas. This depends heavily on the time of day.  I, of course, went there last night to project the image onto the wall.
The first order of business was a street lamp that was rendering it impossible to see the projected image. Fortunately, it was only 8' or so I could place a tarp temporarily over it.  Next, one of the owners (Jon Walker) and I talked a bit about the process.  We worked out the best location below existing lights to place the sign and then Jon left.  Less than 2 minutes later, a police cruiser pulled a car over directly behind my vehicle.  For any of you who want to paint murals, let me inform you that a police cruiser's lights and spot light will make it virtually impossible to see your projected image on the wall.  Additional police cars will make it worse.
The next 45 minutes or so eventually led to what I believe was a ticket for tail-gaiting.  Once the police cars left, the 4 black males got out and began to discuss the incident.  They felt that it may have been racial profiling (it may have been).  They also discussed the good fortune that they were not asked to get out of the car and that none of the passengers names were run through the computer for existing warrants.  They suggested that it was in everyone's best interest that a search of the vehicle didn't occur.  Considering the work I was trying to complete, I had to agree.
I was finally able to go about my work and it went quickly.  I spoke with the group briefly and they were very friendly and interested in what/how I was doing this project.  I'd share some of the conversation, but I think it may be a bit too salty for the blog. I have some young readers.  I'll say, simply, that it was an interesting night!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Number 2

Today was a great day!  Shannon Ingles and I put the last paint on the mural for I just have to put on the panel with the logo for the sponsor.  At 50+ feet long, it was the biggest I've done...

I am learning so much from each one of these that I complete....and each brick wall has it's own set of challenges...but all of it worth every minute.

Soon I'll be heading for Arcola, Illinois to attend the next Walldog meet...and to paint number 3!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

16 feet of fun.

I am a member of a group called "The Walldogs" and also a member of a forum called the "CSA" which stands for the Creative Signmakers of America (plus our friends from Canada, the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, etc.).  One of my friends called with a problem. They have a CarveWright cnc machine, but managed to sell several large signs that needed to be carved.  Two were double sided and 1' x 4'. Another was single sided but 30" x 12' and the last was 40" x 16' !!!  They brought the HDU and I proceeded to take a crash course in setting up the Shopbot for extra large signs.  It was actually very good practice and forced me to consider several things about carving things this large. It was a great learning experience.  I had to scale the design and in the case of the 12' and 16' versions break up the design into 2 elements..each being carved from 4' x 8' sheets.
In just a few hours the HDU (high density urethane) powder was flying and the machine was creating exactly what they needed.
Today I lined up all the pieces, and they fit perfectly together.  Now my friend and his wife can complete the priming and painting back at their shop. I'm excited for them to get here and see how they all turned out!  Nothing proves what a good idea it was to move up to the larger machine more than seeing these big signs all carved and ready to go.