Page one. This is where it all started, who was involved, sketches and the layout.
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Have any questions? Contact Otilia Johnson or Silvan Durban at the Owatonna Arts Center, or call Phone: 507.451.0533


This is a project funded by an Original Works Grant made possible by SEMAC , The Owatonna Arts Center and GardenStudio. Further information of an unveiling will be posted this winter (2011) and you are invited! Please come back to find out time and date.

I will be going through the steps of drawing, painting, assembling and hopefully explaining the characters and elements on this page and posting them weekly (hopefully).  If you have any questions, please write Lynette, and I will post your question and my answer.  

Have a look at other mural projects.

This page is about the planning, and preliminary sketching. If you want to, skip to page 2, September 16 where the panels are finally being worked on!

 April 9, 2010 Day one.  Last week Bob SchmidtBob did some measuring of the library at the Owatonna Arts Center.  This is the beginning of a busy season for contractors, and I didn't dare ask him to come back and pose for this, so I went back to the center and took some pics of the ceiling at least.  

It still looks pretty confounded too so here is an added layout.
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back to top and I will be sure to keep you posted when I have added any news or sketches.
May 5, 2010

So , as starting this project, I have all ready created a Photoshop file that is 1.12 Gigs!!!   Today I am reducing the actual size of the file so instead of inches, I have picas.  Much better. 

The theme of this painting is going to be about art books.  Being this is the Art Center’s Library, and has lots of lovely books to look at, and a few chairs to sit and browse.  What a wonderful place to be in the first place!  I love books and want to illustrate the trip that can come about by looking at picture books.  Looking at art books is and always has been my inspiration.   Hopefully, this will enhance the room and encourage that.

Here is the first sketch, it really is looking like a mess and it will be for quite some time.  The wonderful thing about computers is you can change your mind a lot.  The bad thing about computers is you can change your mind a lot.  On contemplation, of what I am going to do, I have to keep in mind the very things I tell my students.  That is, “practice is important, the final piece is not”.  What I mean by that is: while you are practicing, your body is learning how to do the dance so eventually you have automatic action.  When you finally come to the piece that is going to be a final piece, you don’t want to think to hard or to place too much importance on it or your imagining power gets really board. 

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May 12,2010
May 12

Today I start with the largest character, and that is the Dragon.  Dragons are an important part of my work and I think I am not the only one.  They appear in every culture on earth and are often misunderstood as the villain in the story.  In my book, they represent our hopes and fears and the extreme corners of our lives.   They have the power to make kings and also the power to destroy us, you choose.  We all have Dragons within us, helping us to soar or disintegrate. Poof.  I decided to give him a book and a little girl on his lap as a nod to children’s books, and also the two together create a dynamic duo where there is extraordinary strength and also the delicate, fragile and sensitive creative child.  This yin/yang dynamic is found in everything and will always have a place in my painting.

I can never resist another mythical character and no one has ever complained when I put Pegasus someplace.  He is always beautiful and I read somewhere he is the symbol of creative beauty, but I can’t find that site for the life of me.  He still fits here because he represents a ‘task at hand’ as he was the carrier of Zeus’ thunderbolts.  Found that on Wiki but if you want to read further some very well put meanings of Peg, this site says it best
Getting back to his meaning for me, I have always loved the thought of riding a horse through the sky, flying and I do a lot in my head.  I dream of him a lot and lets just hope I don’t become a sleepwalker.

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May 17.

I have worked on the north side of the ceiling that is so far just a part of a castle that continues from the real window.  All ready I am thinking of England and the legend of ravens.  They play a strong part in folk stories and legends and it is more common to see them in a positive tone.

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layout June 7

The layout is turning out to be a little more complicated than when we first started.  There is a whole lot more happening and going on than planned, but we can’t help ourselves.

On the east wall there is going to be a field of tulips that have always represented to me a new beginning.  They are the color in the Spring that blinds you for months of having none.  That color shock can wake up to a most beautiful reality. 

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June 18. We wanted the room to echo the rest of the building with the beams, but the cost is prohibitive, and how we had it, just does not settle with either of us real well.     There are several issues but the big one is the size of the ceiling and the size that masonite comes in (4’ x 8’). 

“When two geniuses meet, there is humility.”  Silvan and I both know what we want, and we are in agreement with all that we arrive at.  We work very well together, but we just can’t seem to come to a good solution for how the room should be sectioned out.  Bob from Rhome is super busy because of his own contracting business as anyone would guess, and it is looking pretty grim.  But then Silvan is resourceful and calls Les Abraham, who had the problem solved before I could respond that it was a good idea.   So I am back onto the sketching and the business I know. 


Photo by Scott Roberts.

So this is the new layout. There will be a few adjustments, but not bad.

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July 1.  To Dragon or not to Dragon.  A lot has changed since last post June 18.  I have taken the dragon out twice and put it back in twice and rethought every wall. 

The theme being about Art books and loosing yourself in wonderful color and thought that comes from just looking at them.  Inspiration and the process.  My God! It is too vast and I find myself editing more than creating.  I should not try to write about each thing, as each thing has a symbol, meaning, metaphor that will be different to everybody.  They are different to me each day.

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July 12

This is a first time I have laid out a painting on computer.  Always, I have either done in the traditional way or on the computer.  It is fascinating how the computer can save time but we develop another skill that has to do with editing.  There is so much more we can do, but on the other hand, it is a deadly journey into the realms of the mind in always land.

Now it seems I have been going out of control and just drawing until there is no space left.  There is a lot of truth to that.  It is important to me in a composition of a painting to lay all the cards out on the table and then arrange them, think and edit.  The hardest part is to edit.  When you love everything, you tend to find a place for it. If you think this is busy, you ought to see my head right now!

In the East wall, with eastern columns and tulips there will be dragonflies flying and landing on a printed fabric that surrounds the north window.  They will soon become the print and continue on throughout the walls.  The North wall also has some simple Art Deco wall decoration and a little arts and craft sconce to hold up the continuing fabric.  Now on the West wall, is incorporated into a dress and her pet fish are guiding it into a window where it comes out another window on the south wall.  After that, I am still working on how it will go over to the South wall and under the dragon.  If anyone has ideas on what they would like to see, I am open, write me.   

There are some areas that are in color just for a better visual.  When there are a lot of lines, and some will not necessarily be in the finished picture, but need to be there as a guide for perspective.  Blocking out color will also help in the final layout of the painting.  Everything, color, subject, tone, hue, all has a part to play in the scheme of things.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

So I wake up this morning feeling kind of nervous.  Later, I found out why.  Silvan of the Arts Center called and there is a change in plans for the panels.  They will have to make the wall panels about a foot shorter.   I went down there to see and sort of soak in the situation.  I am just grateful to have the panels built and installed, here are the guys, Les and Ken Dinsen is going to build them.    

This is what it looks like above the room. 

It’s good to have Les and Ken working on this.  They are both experienced and skilled and right for the job. 

Thursday, July 15, 2010
It was way too hard to think of re working the sketches I have been working on for months, with trompe l'oeil perspective.  It meant many more hours struggling with vanishing points.  This is not the same as drawing a house with two vanishing points on either side.  One has to take into consideration where a person is going to stand in a room and how it will read.  Also, all that work, and it is still 9-10’ above anyone’s head.  If it is too high, you will not be able to see it.  So, I talk to Sil, Sil talks to Les and we compromise with just 6 inches taken off.  Still a lot of work, but much better, and actually, Sil do his magic in talking me down, as I needed it today.  Les understands, and Ken will go along with it I am sure. Things look a little better today. Goodnight.  
east wall

The above is what the east wall will look like with the pillars and buildings jutting out in the ceiling.  You can also see a part in the north wall and south wall.

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August 18. So. The panels are done and delivered to the Center! I went down right away and was greeted by Sil and Jeff Springborg.
Silvan and Jeff
Silvan and Jeff moving panels
Sil and Jeff
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the Kilz
August 19. Today there was some real progress made in the first layer of primer. Thanks Sil. Ken Dinsen was back to work on the fitting and to make sure they were going to work. It was an extremely hot day and the mood was flat. I know I was worried and I think that sentiment went all around. The concern today is, will they fit!
Silvan and Ken on hot day
Enter Sandy, Ken’s wife with some vanilla shakes.
Sandy brings refreshments
This seemed to inject some energy to do the thing that has to be done.
getting back to work
the moment
this is the moment, now we will find out if it fits!.... It does!
it does!
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What Ken is doing here never ceases to amaze me. This room has been measured several times and it changes every time. Then there are the fact that one end is bigger and higher than the other, and the ability to create these panels to fit! And there will be just small seams, just right. This is a part of the art right here. If you go down there, you will see some of the inner structure, but here are some of the shots.
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August 24. I went to visit Silvan and painted the primed panels with gesso. A little sanding will be needed but it all looks good. My friend from Maryland, Deb Burke came and we went to load them up and bring them home.

Sil helping Deb
Deb helping Silvan
We were sorting them out in the studio. But they had to go upstairs to my part of the house.
Lynn and Sil
They are now all filed in the hallway upstairs and I will be painting them each at a time. My little painting room is 10' x12', a far cry from what I had in Duluth, but it will suffice.
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Okay, Okay, scarp the previous drawings, I was just fooling. After several pit falls (what a month August was!) beyond anyone’s control, I now have the panels at hand and strict directions from Ken on how they will fit on the ceiling and how they might be cut or mitered once they are being installed. This is going to muck up the pillar plan that was going on in the corners. Bye-bye. But I have a completely new idea, and I am not going to divulge it until I have something on the panels! But you can see on the computer sketch below, lots of mess
the east wall mess
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There is a new situation going on to help finish the mural. Donate and get your business or family name on the mural. Want to help? Contact Otilia Johnson or Silvan Durban at the Owatonna Arts Center, or call Phone: 507.451.0533

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