All art copyright (c) Mike Kloepfer
"The level of achievement that we have at anything is a reflection of how well we were able to focus on it."
-Steve Vai

Saturday, June 12, 2010


Begin laying in the sun and the clouds.

Me, a frosty brew, and my trusty crew:

The mural so far:

The crew, mixing, stirring, and helping paint the 'hard-to-get-to' spots, while I set my brain to figurin' out the next steps:

My friend JJ and I have worked out a trade in services. In exchange for all the work on my car, I am painting him a mural on his living room wall. He wants it to look like there is no wall, and you are looking west to the mountains of the Front Range. We decided that late afternoon/early evening is the most picturesque for a west-facing scheme.

I have spent a lot of time in the past few years observing skies and clouds, making mental notes of colors and the way light behaves in the myriad situations you find in nature. I have also taken many photographs; not only as reference, but as ‘triggers’ for my memory of how the light, the sky, and the cloud forms interact.

Here is the bare wall, prepped, primered and ready to go. Here is a picture of Brandt and Chloe for scale, and to determine where the horizon line/eye level will be placed.

JJ’s line of work allows him the opportunity to salvage many things; fortunately for us, one of those things is house paint. So the first order of business is to take a look at the paint available, decide which type of paint will work best, and see what colors we have at our disposal. I figured acrylic latex would be the easiest for me to work with, would clean up easily and mix together well.

It was a rainy, drizzly day, so we had to work under the shelter of the garage roof. Here is my handy, faithful crew (I feel like Michelangelo! Where's my scaffolding?) we had a good time, and went through dozens of cans of paint. We set aside any that would not work with acrylic latex (I had no idea there was alkyd house paint!) Then we set up an assembly line. Gray opened and stirred the paint, while I painted the sample swatches, and Brandt cleaned and prepped the stir sticks and brushes. JJ directed the tested cans of paint to their proper location: the dumpster, the ‘to be used’ shelf, or the ‘give away’ pile.

At first, I tried to organize the colors into 'families,' but in the end there were so many usable paints that I had to just 'fill in the blank spots.'
Here is the finished swatch board. I was surprised at the palette I have to work with, there are quite a few good colors, and it should allow me to make a nice painting.

Thanks to Brandt, Gray and JJ for their help, the whole thing went so fast! Now I know how come Michelangelo had a crew! (Imagine trying to paint sixteen chapels by yourself! Seriously, I could only paint two or three at the most...)

It’s also funny to see what weird colors people paint their homes…!

Next, to take a look at the colors, and come up with a game plan for laying down the image…

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