This is my first abstract project that I have done, and responds to a brief to create a series of artworks for two large corridors in an office building. The client was interested in either work that reflects the building itself or abstract work, with colour being very important either way. I was sent a couple of sample images which I turned into bold, geometric images that worked really well. For the colour schemes, I had found some Wes Anderson Palettes based on his films which were going to be perfect. They are stylistically mixed between 20th Century and modern, a perfect metaphor for the newly refurbished 1930’s Art Deco building.
It turns out I have already worked with this client before on another building, Oriel Chambers. They liked the work that I did there, and were considering a more continuous mural approach which they didn’t end up going for. However, they did like the idea of painting these designs on wooden panels and letting the natural colours, textures and patterns come through.
After being selected for the commission, I went around and took photos of the building, concentrating on the angles and interesting features. I then translated these into simplified geometric shapes using the colour palettes mentioned above. The effect was exactly what I was looking for; relatively abstract for people who weren’t familiar with the building, but with hints of recognition for those who were.
I tend to struggle to look at my own work from an outsider’s point of view, so I posted the sample images online to get some feedback and reduce the 30 pictures I’d come up with, down to the 13 that the client was commissioning. I’d broken these down into sections so we would have an even number of works based on the Art Deco exterior, the Brutalist architecture, the atrium features inside and the corridors. It was interesting to see that there were clear favourites coming through, and while this was happening, I was figuring out which colours of Montana Gold spraypaint matched the colour schemes. I also picked up some Flat Jet caps which were similar to the Calligraphy caps I’d used previously. These give a really thin vertical stroke of paint which is perfect for evenly filling in large areas.
The size of these images were agreed at 2m x 2m, made up of 4 sections of 1m x 1m. By producing these designs in Photoshop, I could use the rulers and guides to figure out which coordinates to place the points, even if they weren’t at the edge of one of the sections. I didn’t QUITE realise what 52 sections of smooth timber plywood would look like until they arrived on the back of a lorry! Daunting… Unfortunately the 52 cans of spraypaint that arrived looked nowhere near as impressive!
But with the client happy with some of the mock-ups and saying he wanted me to make all the decisions (perfect client) I cracked on one design at a time. We were having some pretty horrible weather at the start of the project which was a bit of an obstacle, but after a slower start it soon eased off and I was painting outside with no wind and really nice weather.
After all boards were completed, all that was left to do was to varnish and mount them ready for hanging. I always prefer a matt varnish, especially if parts of the wood are still exposed. In regards to the hanging, it was suggested to use split battens but I was concerned about the stability of them if people were walking past (plus the commercial aluminium ones were quite expensive).
All that’s left to do for the time being is pick the van off and drop the work off in Bolton. Can’t wait until they’re all hung so I can update this post with pictures of how they look on the walls. I hope you found this interesting, and feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
Here are the 30 original sample images produced from the photos I took around the building.