Mural Painting in New York City

Mural studio at Evergreene Architectural Arts in Midtown Manhattan.

This past winter I spent about 10 weeks in NYC working at Evergreen Architectural Arts  Midtown studio. Evergreene is a company that specializes in restoring art in architectural settings. This includes murals, painted decorative schemes, tromp l’oiel decoration, but also plaster, statuary, almost anything you can think off. I’ve been working on and off for them since about 2000.

I wasn’t embalming. This is a plaster cast that was being polychromed in the studio for a New Jersey Church.

They were swamped with work and invited me for the winter. The only catch was to find housing in NYC. Luckily, I had a generous family connection that was leaving their NYC apartment two weeks before the end of a the lease. So I had a start, and then, viola,  through the magic of Facebook and a Paris and Florida connection I was able to find a short-term room in a nice area of Brooklyn!

This mural was painted with Flashe paint, a very non-reflective paint similar to gauche that dries permanent.

This mural was painted with Flashe paint, a very non-reflective paint similar to gauche that dries permanently.

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I worked on several different mural projects while I was there.  The main one was for a pontifical college in Ohio, and another one was for a different church, also, I believe, in Ohio.

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I was working with a dozen or so other painters. All of these are group projects, so several different artists would have done work on the murals pictured. But these were the ones I was assigned to finish.

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The process is complicated. There is a design department that creates the initial design for the client. In this case these were recreations of murals that had been painted over with wall paint. The small linear designs are projected onto the large canvas, and then you go at it, refining the drawing and correcting and adding elements in at the behest of the 3 or 4 supervisors who are watching the process. It could be a little confusing, but in the end it turns out pretty good.

There was a fun project going on with the Polychroming of a large number of plaster casts. There was a lot going on in the studio, and we were forever moving things to make room for a new project.

There was a fun project going on with the polychroming of a large number of plaster casts. There was a lot going on in the studio, and we were forever moving them to make room for a new project.

The best thing about Evergreene is the wonderfully talented people you meet. Many people from Eastern Europe and Asia, with excellent skills and interesting worldviews.

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It was an interesting place to work and they are often looking for skilled and experienced artists and craftsman. It’s not stress free, and the projects often require long-term travel, but it’s a oppurtunity to work on projects that very few people get to see the inside of.  Contact information is on their website here.

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One of the paintings from the Valentin De Bolougne exihibit.

One of the paintings from the Valentin De Boulogne exihibit.

Mostly I worked  six days a week, but I also had some time to enjoy the art and museums available to see in the city.  There was a great show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art while I was there on  Valentin de Boulogne, where I went several times and did some pencil studies.

A night out at the Chelsea galleries. As a friend of mine pointed out, this was a particularly colorful group.

A night out at the Chelsea galleries. As a friend of mine pointed out, this was a particularly colorful group of people for Chelsea. Not all black clothing.

Grand Central Atelier.

Grand Central Atelier.

Art Students League.

Art Students League.

Spring St. Studio in Chinatown. Definitely my favorite place to draw in NYC. I also went to their New Years eve drawathon and party.

Spring St. Studio in Chinatown. Definitely my favorite place to draw in NYC. I also went to their New Years eve drawathon and party.

I also had a chance to go life drawing and painting a few times. Nice because it’s not usually convenient in Maine.

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Red Hook, Brooklyn plein air study.

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And I managed one lonely painting on a warm  weekend afternoon. The second time I went out, the wind blew my easel over twisting my panel holder.

I was very happy that I got to spend a few months in NYC.  The work was great. I realized how much I miss city life. But I would also say, housing costs are too high to make a move worth it. Lots of other great cities with a lower price of admission.

 

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