Art, Culture, Entertainment

The Mural Mosaic Project

It’s hard to believe that it’s been over a year already since I completed the mural at the then new Bandra Café in Surrey, British Columbia. That was back in September 2021. I had such an enjoyable experience designing and painting that Indian themed mural but now that I’m working full time again, I just don’t have the time to commit to such a large scale project.

Then mid last year (2022), I stumbled across an ad on FaceBook for a unique and very cool project called Canada Connects Seasons Mural Mosaic which I thought looked rather interesting.  Each year the project creates huge murals using submissions from the public in the form of a mosaic picture. Obviously, there are four seasons to choose from and so I chose Summer.

When you sign up to the project, you pick your season and then purchase a small kit for each submission you want to make. The Tile Kit contains a 6” square canvass (referred to as a tile), a cute mini easel to display the finished masterpiece on, two decent quality brushes of different sizes and a set of eight small pots of acrylic paint in a designated colour palette.

The project stipulates the colour of your tile(s) based on the mural colour requirements but you can paint whatever you like so long as it’s 80% the tile colour allocated. I signed up for three tiles and received: Green, Light and Blue. I would’ve preferred not to have two ‘blue’ tiles for a better variety for me but overall I didn’t really mind.

The idea is that each 6” square tile represents a mosaic ‘pixel’ in the final mural which is made up of thousands of tiles to form the full picture. The summer mural that I’m part of has 1,800 tiles. It’s huge!  One of the cool things about the project is that you submit your tiles digitally … which means you get to keep your tiny masterpiece!

The digital images of the submitted tiles are placed in a grid format to form the mural picture. Each tile is allocated a number and the artist’s name is attributed along with the name of the piece if there is one. The images are reproduced on aluminum composite substrate and compiled into the finished art piece which is displayed somewhere public like airports, hospitals, libraries etc.  The unveiling is a surprise to be announced in Spring 2023 and could be anywhere across Canada. 

I sure hope the summer mural is close to BC so I can go and visit it once its unveiled!

The picture (below) shows some examples of previous murals taken from the project’s website which shows you what the finished murals look like. If you look closely, you can see all the different pictures that have been painted. On the orca mural, you can see a man standing beside it which gives a great indication of the scale. The finished murals are displayed in locations across Canada, the US, Europe and I just noticed recently that there is also a project in the UK. The project is expanding worldwide. You don’t have to be an artist to join in the fun. The project is open to absolutely everyone and is about linking communities together.

At the time of writing, I visited the link to the live grid for the Summer Mural Mosaic as the pieces are being assembled and found two of my three submissions.  I’ve highlighted them in yellow circles on the photo. I will of course keep checking for my last submission and update the grid photo when I get a chance.

So, what did I paint? You may well be wondering.

I knew that I wanted to go with some fantasy art which is my favourite and usual subject matter. It means I can run wild with my imagination. I decided to go with a representation of three of the elements: Air, Earth and Water. Of course, fire is missing from the line up at the moment but I will likely pick up another 6” canvas from my local craft shop at some point and paint a fiery red or magenta mystical beauty to complete the set.

I wanted my submissions to look like a mini collection that shared somewhat of a common theme. All are beautiful mystical females with green eyes and bright red luscious lips. In addition, each painting also depicts something symbolic from their respective element in the composition.

I used the paint pots supplied for colour inspiration rather than adhering to them strictly.  I have so much paint of my own, I wanted to do something different with this project and so, remembering how excited I got at using glitter on the Bandra Café Mural, I decided to incorporate some metallic paint and glitter on the hair for each tile to add a bit of interest and texture.

My Tiles

“Above the Clouds”

This is the Light Tile which means it’s mostly light blue. You are allowed to use accent colours so I made sure to include some dazzling red lips and, in this case, metallic green eyes or should I say eye (singular). I wanted to make the accents bold against the overall light tones of the tile. I also wanted this tile to have an Art Deco quality about it. Obviously, as the name indicates, this painting represents the element of air and the symbology I incorporated was the crescent moon, clouds, her star earring and her cloud hair clasp.  I wanted her hair to look a bit like a rainbow but couldn’t commit to the full spectrum of colour due to the restrictions of the Light Tile colour palette and so I did it in pastels instead. I like to think her hair looks a little like an ancient Egyptian headdress, a style which was very popular in the Art Deco days when the prominent archaeologists were opening up the Pharoah’s tombs and making a name for themselves. Women’s fashion at the time was heavily influenced by the Egyptian treasures they found.

At the time I downloaded the live grid image above, this tile was #729.

“The Green Lady”

This was the first painting I did for this project. I started with my sketchbook and made a 9” square pencil drawing then marked the 6” canvass in key areas like her eyes, nose, lips and basic curves of her hair. I didn’t have a image to base the face on, I drew all three of my tiles from my vivid imagination. I then picked up my brush and painted her face green. This mysterious and exotic lady represents the element of earth. The earthly symbology I incorporated was the white daisy, ladybug earring and green leaves.  In my mind she is a green forest nymph or perhaps a young and beautiful relative of the elusive Green Man. The metallic paints and glitter were used for her hair. It’s not so obvious from the photo but when you see the painting in the flesh, the colour is very vibrant and the glitter really sparkles.

At the time I downloaded the live grid image above, this tile was #744.

“La Sirena”

What else would I paint to portray the element of water but a magical mermaid? I knew I wanted to give her wild seaweed like hair and incorporate fish and an anchor earring as her watery symbology. This lady was a bit of a challenge to paint and not just because she is a figment of my imagination. Rather worryingly, for quite some time, this beauty didn’t look so hot. She looked more like a wicked sea hag until I was able to give her the hair and makeup treatment. I used deep blue metallic paint for her hair and then smothered it entirely with blue and green glitter that I mixed together. The photo certainly does not do her any justice, her hair really dazzles in the flesh.  For all of you ichthyologists out there (marine biologists who study different fish species), you’re going to have an issue identifying what kind of fish these are. I made them up! I was not satisfied with the colour combinations I painted initially and had to redo them. This was my third and final attempt, third time was definitely the charm as they say. I wanted something to reflect the sea green behind her hair, the colour of her eyes and accentuate her bright red lips. If by chance you do have these fish in your tropical fish tank at home … feel free to enlighten me on the name of the species! 😊

Behind the Scenes

Besides getting stuck into painting and creativity, one of the other things I especially enjoyed was being part of the online community for this project. I was blown away by the artwork and creativity of everyone who participated. It was quite incredible. Every day I looked forward to viewing the fabulous paintings from everyone across all of the mural mosaic projects. There are so many amazingly talented people out there!

I would definitely participate in another mural mosaic project. I love the fact that something I created is part of a much larger entity on display for the public to enjoy for years to come. Projects like this help to preserve an art legacy for future generations. Strangers in other towns and cities will get an up-close view of the murals and marvel at the eclectic mix of subject matter, style and technique. They will wonder about the people who painted the pictures, why they chose what they did, what was their inspiration and what it meant to the artists. And perhaps it will inspire them too. Art has the power to move people in so many ways.

Visit Mural Mosaic if you would like to find out more about the project(s) or if you would like to join in the fun.

Until next time!

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