Back to school – part 1

This week in Oregon it’s Spring Break, when all students elementary through college are away from school on vacation. Just because we like to be different, Brad and I spent the week at school – West Albany High School. Brad was hired to paint the school logo and name on the two end walls and I volunteered to help. It wasn’t the first time we’ve worked together on a sign project, but I believe it was the largest, and like always, it was an interesting challenge!

We started last Saturday morning, arriving at the school all ready to go to work, only to discover the scaffolding, ladder, and tables we’d requested hadn’t been delivered yet. It was a gorgeous spring day, and with rain in the forecast, I thought it was a sign (no pun intended) we were to take the day off and go play! After a few phone calls, and a lengthy lunch break, we returned to the school with everything we needed to begin. First off, Brad clamped a board to the very top of a giant ladder upon which he placed his opaque projector.

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Here you see the blank canvases, ready to go – the two facing walls of this gym (above, and below).

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Below, I’m standing in the lift – a new device for me – it raises and lowers with the push of two buttons. Going up is fairly smooth, but when going down it jerks first before smoothly descending. I began to dread that jerk – especially when I was stretched up at the highest point I had to go! I’ve never been that bothered with heights, but this thing would sway with every step before raised, and when extended it’d sway with the tiniest movement! It took me a couple of days to be less terrified, but I never did come to be fully comfortable with it… Hence the death grip I had with my left hand!

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Here I’m drawing on the artwork from Brad’s designs he printed from his computer which are being projected onto the wall. We had to shut off all the lights we could to get the image to show up, but there was still a lot of light which made viewing the image somewhat difficult. We drew in sections, and after finishing an area, we’d climb down, shift the scaffolding, lift, ladder and projector, adjust the tape measure Brad was using to keep the ladder placed at the same length from the wall, then climb back up and continue drawing. I can’t tell you how many times we stepped or tripped on that tape measure…

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When it was time to move the ladder to the other wall, Brad pulled out the two wheeled ladder “carriers” and we placed them underneath the feet of the ladder. That was pretty slick! Brad did remove them once it was set up for wall two.

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Here’s one of the bulldogs, drawn on the wall with blue Stabilo pencil.

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The next day we started painting, using  One Shot oil enamel paint . The blue we were using was not very thick, and with the crappy brush I had to work with, it was a struggle to keep the paint from dripping! This was a brand new 2 inch bristle brush, similar to what one would use to paint a house, supposedly high quality. It was impossible to get into some of the narrow corners I had to paint on the bulldog image. Brad only brought his big brushes, so I ended up scrounging up some q-tips to use for the smaller areas I had to paint.

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The lift extended – notice the white-knuckled grip?

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My two tools – a q-tip and the crap brush… I couldn’t wait to go home and get better brushes for the next day!

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Brad was working on a large scaffolding and painting in the outlines around the letters—and shooting pics of me through the basketball hoop.

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I was jealous of the tape Brad was using to help outline his letters. As a pastel artist, I don’t have to be that precise with my outlines or edges. Painting the bulldog was all about smooth edges, precision and following the drawn lines but also checking to make sure this giant image was correct to the original design.

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It was a struggle for me initially, but I became quicker as the days progressed – and it helped to find some brushes that worked better than fuzzy q-tips! On the 4th day, Brad introduced me to the fitch brush, and I discovered a new best friend!

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Finished with the blue outlines.

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This shows my table set up on the lift and my brushes, a baby brush to get into the tight areas of the smaller bulldog, a mid size for most of the edges, and the crappy bristle brush for filling in the wide spaces.

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Brad making me jealous again with his tape… He slings that brush around like a pro – oh yeah, he is!

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B is for Brad – he didn’t realize that was behind him when I shot this pic!

…..to be continued.

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2 thoughts on “Back to school – part 1

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