BOMBOTZ: The Mural by Tyler K. Smith
BOMBOTZ: The Mural
by Tyler K. Smith
Painting theatrical backdrops and scenery in the air-conditioned comfort of the shop is, well, I’m not gonna say easy, but it’s certainly comfy. Painting an outdoor mural in the humid dog days of South Florida, on the other hand, is a real challenge. Why might one take on such a task? Robots. I get to paint robots. More specifically, Bombotz. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to paint whatever I wanted and Broward College’s This Is A Canvas Street Art project was that opportunity. I was provided a 10-foot by 15-foot blank wall. Now, that’s half the size I'm used to, but this is not gonna be some feelgood, Broadway Hello Dolly bullsh*t, this would be friggen Bombotz. Even better, a fleet of friggen Bombotz, featuring Sharkbot and Finkbot.
Hours of oppressive heat is not very forgiving. It’s a challenge to be on your game and tack sharp when you’re actually ready to pass out. So, as much designing was done ahead of time as possible. When it comes down to it, standing on that threshold of the abyss, don’t think about it, just follow the design.
For years, limited by the size of the drawing board, computer screen, and ceramic kiln, the biggest thrill here was getting to create these creatures larger than life size. As futuristically surreal as the subject matter was, the artist process was ancient, using a proportional grid to transfer the paper design to the large wall. I then used greyscale values to render the shapes over a complimentary color schemed background. It took three, seven-hour days and a couple gallons of Home Depot’s finest to complete the work. Of course, nothing is absolute and heat or no heat, I was able to embellish midstream and improve the original composition. In the inimitable words of Tim Allen, “Never give up, never surrender.”
This Is A Canvas was supposed to be a temporary installation, six months tops. Three years later, it’s still there, in all its BOMBOTZ glory.
BOMBOTZ STREET ART STEP BY STEP
1. BOMBOTZ STREET ART MURAL, THIS IS A CANVAS MURAL PROJECT- A juried street art project sponsored by Broward College and Florida Atlantic University, in downtown Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
2. My 10ft x 15ft wall, ah, the limitless possibilities of the blank wall.
3. Laying in the frame edge to establish my mural
4. Texturing in the background with a dark, warm, earth color background to contrast with the eventual blue sky color.
5. Penciling in, the intersection points of the proportional grid on the wall
6. Composing the design using images of my sculptures in photoshop. Being as prepared as possible ahead of time is important, so the actual time spent on site is efficient and effective. That creative, impulsive muse can be elusive after 6 hours in the hot, humid sun.
7. Finished design on 8.5 x 11 page with proportional grid lines
8. Page design grid is proportionally equal to the wall grid
9. Using the grid as a locating guide, I transfer and enlarge the page drawing on to the wall with a graphite crayon.
10. Now the fun part, painting begins using a complementary color, starting with the negative shapes
11. My Bombotz begin to take shape by painting the background first
12. 12 pm, gotta move like I got a purpose, here comes the hot, Florida sun for the next 7 hours
13. To last for the next three days, covering up and working in the shade as much as possible is essential
14. Can’t afford to be dehydrated and unsteady given all the time spent on the ladder
15. Using an awesome bamboo Sumi brush for the line work
16. Aggressive wall texture is a challenge and requires paint that is very plastic
17. It’s quite a thrill to create Bombotz that are larger than life-size.
18. 7:30 pm there goes the sun, I always take a progress photo to evaluate later and work on at home.
19. Photo of mural to take home
20. Recompose and embellish the current mural stage in photoshop, to be ready for the next day.
21. Back at it with the new design, dry clothes and lots-o-water.
22. Adding the new large foreground shapes and smaller robots
23. Almost done
24. 3 days, 21 hours later, the finished mural
25. Sharing the finished work with my son Aaron, an aspiring artist, priceless
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