Painting Sets for Bye Bye Birdie

I’ve been painting sets for Bye Bye Birdie to be performed next week. My daughter is playing Ursula. Order tickets online.
Stay tuned for a photo of the McAffy’s kitchen. I painted the wallpaper and scene outside the window.

Ambitious 6-panel polyptych of Santiam River

© Pam Van Londen 2008 Santiam River 12 Polyptych, acrylic on six 16x20 panels to make 96x20 when attached.
$1600 © Pam Van Londen 2009, Santiam River Fish Habitat 6-panel polyptych, 16x20x.7 on acrylic on canvas
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If you have a blank conference room wall at least 10 feet wide that needs imagery to excite creativity, consider a mural; but a mural you can take with you later.

This 6-panel on canvas of the Santiam River outside Sweet Home, Oregon, is bright and boldly painted. When hung tight together it acts as a mural. When hung separately, possibly framed, it can fill and entire conference room with space between each.

I painted this with acrylic paint this week and expect to finish it up this soon and hang it at Bomb’s Away Cafe in February.

If you’d like to see it in person before then, please call me at 541-760-1449.

Uniterian-Universalist Religious Exploration Mural completed

“The mural looks SO GOOD! and the continuation along the walls–did you get a BEFORE picture with the mailboxes there? I love the bit down by the Nursery also. There is so much color in the whole department–it is really gratifying to see the changes, and you have been a big part of that. Thanks for being so flexible with the various requests and multiple opinions about the mural!” –emailed to me by the Project Manager. (Thank you!)

Final view of the main mural at the Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship of Corvallis

For the past few months I’ve been working with the Religious Exploration staff at the UU Fellowship of Corvallis to add a mural to the RE wing. It’s had a dull entryway for many years which did not necessarily invoke love, caring, and community.

After a few meetings and draft concepts, we decided on the subject which includes a spacious landscape on a hill with a diverse group of babies, children, youth, teens, and an adult playing together around a white oak tree.

The tree will have a real wood stump in front of it to hold the Sunday morning challis.

The mural background extends to the front door and is repeated on the far wall way down the hall, which creates an environment, not just a pretty picture. New closets, lights, furniture, and curtains will tie the rest of the wing together.

A few more sessions of painting are needed to tidy up the figures, widen the trunk to fit the stump, finish painting oak leaves, and blend the backgrounds together.

By Labor Day, the mural will completed so the returning families can enjoy the surprise!

Projector options for muralists and artists

A recent inquiry about projectors prompted me to make recommendations for other artists and muralists.

I recommend you avoid the Artograph Tracer Projector ($62) as it is overpriced and has never provided me a clear image in a semi dark room beyond 2 feet. It is supposed to project a 5×5 image up to 14 times the original size (which, if I calculate correctly, means I should be able to see the image at 5 feet). Lines and edges become about an inch thick and so blurry you cannot accurately trace the edge—and that is if you have complete darkness.

If you’re going to use a project often, figure out how much you ought to spend based:

  1. Number of times you project ;-) you’ll use it in a year.
  2. Size you can carry with you.
  3. How you’ll use it (with computer, slides only, or paper drawings)

For example:

  1. I want to paint 3 murals per year at an average cost of $1000.
  2. I have too much to carry already, so the projector must be small enough to fit in my art cart which is 18-inches square.
  3. I want to project connected to my Mac laptop rather than print to paper first.

Based on these choices, I can afford the Mitsubishi PK10 Pocket Projector for about $350. Here are some other choices for slide projectors, home theatre projectors, and tracing projectors…roll your cursor over the slides to view specifications.

Let me know if you have thoughts about other projectors by commenting on this post.

Memorial Mural proposal

Church on the Hill concept
Church on the Hill concept

Last month I met with a committee of a large church in McMinnville to discuss options for a memorial mural for their upcoming playroom. The size of the wall to be is roughly 1900 square feet. The concept is to use landscape scenes from the Northewest but with children playing here and there. Perhaps the children are walking up a path, playing in the creek, climbing a tree, swinging in a tire, riding horses and bikes, etc. We would start with depicting three children from the church who have passed away. If, over time, other children run off to Heaven, we could add their portraits, too.

To find inspiration to compose the scene, I gathered photographs from my favorite online image subscription service, Then I laid the chosen photos next to each other within a drawing of the wall, complete with doors, water fountains, and balcony. This collage activity helped me, but I really wanted to start painting. I found a large canvas to work on and added the composition from a couple of thumbnail drawings I did on a postcard.

On Day 2, I refined the light and dark areas, added the barn, outhouse, and set the path with flowers. On Day 1, I nailed down a general composition.

This smaller painting will give the committee and I a place to discuss details and scale.

Deeper into the Jungle

Part of the complete Jungle mural
Part of the complete Jungle mural

Levien residence, Corvallis, Oregon.

Scroll down to view Day 1 to 16, or jump to the end and scroll up.

Day 1

The entire design is sketched in pencil on all four walls. These lines will be obscured and drawn again as the paint covers. Short and tall plants and trees will be layered in front of the waterfall and monoliths.

A suggestion of plants in graphite on wall painted with white acrylic eggshell.

Day 2

First layer of green begins to climb up.The first blocks of mid tone greens are added. At the top of the stairs a light sky is added as far as I could reach. The wires will become vines in various shades of green (unless someone moves them to a new location). Sky is added to the top sections. It’s hard to reach the top area without scaffolding. I enlisted Kyle’s help for the East side.

First layer of green in the mid tonal range is applied on all walls.

Day 3

Cool colors of rocks are applied to all walls.More mid-tone greens are applied, as well as a bit more sky, cool rocks, and mist above the canopy. The cave begins to show in a cool blue.

Up to this point all color has been laid down with a large natural sponge, allowing transparency. At least one more layer of green and cool blues and purples will be laid down with a sponge before brushing begins. The sponge texture is currently swirls and straight wipes, which may show through the last layers to add texture and interest.

The monoliths in the distance begin to take shape.

Monoliths in the distant mist begin to show form. Cool colors of rocks are applied to all walls.

Day 4

I was craving detail, so I improved the monoliths with trees and more mist. Then added foliage to the middle and foreground on just one wall. Still need to get the ladder to finish the sky and tops of the waterfall and cave scenes.

In front of the monoliths is a forest among more rocks. The foreground is in shade and has many kinds of plants. Monoliths are shrouded in mist.

Day 5

I refined the Day 4 foliage and added more to the foreground. I began to work on the orangutan and the tree she’s hanging in. There is much more contrast and a feeling of cool shade down below and warmth at the top near the cliff. I’m finally using masking tape to finish off edges and make less mess.

More foliage is added to the foreground. The orangutan is beginning to show herself hanging from the tree.

The orangutan is beginning to show herself hanging from the tree.

Day 6

The lively flowers and leaves are brightening up the foreground below the hand rail.

This is Marca (femine for Marco), named by Quincy, the youngest Levien. Her hands and feet are not done, but the face and body are. She’s got a friendly gaze.

Day 7 and 8

I’ve officially lost track of the days, so this is a guess. It took 2 or 3 days to get the bamboo and waterfall completed. And on day 11 I decided the middle waterfall needed help, so I’m revising.

The cave recedes behind the tree.

Day 9

I added giant bamboo stalks and foam to the bottom of the fall. These touches add depth. The crack in the rock where the stream falls now recedes into the distance.

Day 10

I washed this corner fern off three times and may do it again!
I’m finally able to work on the other wall, now and like how the composition is holding up.

There’s an environment evolving downstairs!

Day 11

I refined the details of the right falls, middle, back, and some foreground. Played around with the left falls again to improve the middle fall.

Day 12

I added detail to the bottom right panel and began to climb the wall, so to speak, on the inside right panel.

Day 13

Now we’re getting somewhere! I’m continuing the background textures up around the right panel and adding more red flowers. It’s time for the banana trees and bird of paradise flowers. I’ve got five more days of vacation, will I run off to the beach, or stay and paint?

Day 15

I’m finally able to resume painting and am nearing completion. The high foreground is coming together and the low foreground backdrop has been laid. The atmosphere is hazy above the canopy and dark and cool underneath, amongst the birds and lizards.

Day 16

After taking at least 2 weeks off from painting, I saw the last work with new eyes. Either I’m attached to it, or it looked just fine. So I began to add birds, bugs, and lizards.

Along the Path at Tryon Park

My first mural was painted at the home of Cindy Miller in Corvallis, Oregon during a peaceful snowstorm over Winter break. The 14-foot wall was white reflected too much sunlight in the large room, so I provided a cooler atmosphere by painting this old growth forest scene from a photo taken while we were walking along the path at Tryon Park in Lake Oswego, Oregon.
forest mural