Spring break week was no break for our seasoned team of artists, who spent it cranking out on-site mural #3 of the season at the Edgerton R-Center. Now that we are in year three of Roc Paint Division, it’s getting harder to find an R-Center in Rochester that we haven’t covered yet. Until last week, Edgerton was an exception, but with its own special backstory: Edgerton does feature a large mural in the hallway, painted by Sarah Rutherford- accomplished local artist and the original founder of Roc Paint Division. That mural played a pivotal role in laying the groundwork for our program back in late 2015. It was exciting for our team of artists to make their mark alongside Sarah’s!
For this mural, we broke this year’s tradition of welcoming a guest artist from New York City- and in fact, this time around our roster did not include a guest lead artist at all, but instead featured the leadership of our fabulous program lead staff, Justin and Brittany. Our youth artists have loved learning from and working with them back at our home base, and it was a nice change to get to follow their lead on a larger scale. Additionally, three of our youth artists collaborated on the design and execution of the second mural at Edgerton, in the hallway. We are so proud of Fran, Lily, and Mckenzie for their coordinated efforts, teamwork, and leadership!
And with our media coordinator, Lisa, on vacation, documentation of the week’s endeavors fell completely to our youth artists who (no surprise here) stepped right up to the challenge. Special thanks to Narionna for coordinating the photo-taking as well as the children’s art activities at Edgerton- and painting, too! Our multitalented team members continue to blow us away!
Read on for our artists’ reflections on the week!
How was it different to work under the leadership of Justin, Brittany, and your peers rather than a guest artist?
Alex: I think the difference in having worked under the leadership of Justin and Brittany this time around was the trust and being less under pressure, because when a guest artist is present, the pressure increases as a result of fear of missing details or not finishing something on time.
Lily: I felt very relaxed and comfortable because I was working with people I already knew. I was also very excited because we finally worked with our bosses (because they’re really cool artists 😀 )
Nzinga: It felt like we were working on a wall that was 100% ours, in terms of the style and design of the mural.
McKenzie: For this location I did not work under the leadership of Justin and Brittany; Lilly, Francheska, and I created the second mural together. Working with them was really fun and we were able to bounce our ideas off of each other and create something that I think turned out really well. It was fun to be able to make our own decisions and decide what went where and the color pallet and delegate ourselves who we thought would be the best for the different elements of the mural.
What was the vibe of painting at Edgerton like? Did you feel like you moved through it faster now that it was the third one you guys have done on-site?
Nzinga: The Edgerton mural was finished so quickly for me. I was not there on the first day that the team started working, so I only had two days to complete the portrait. It did not feel like we were working for five hours; the time really flew by. Every mural we do it seems as though we get so used to working together, that every other mural after that gets done faster.
Lily: The space felt very big so it felt like there was more freedom to roam around and felt less restricted. The vibe was uplifting no matter what or how I felt.
Alex: The atmosphere in Edgerton was nice and the work pace was fast, I mean we finished the murals quickly and we could have finished them in less than 3 days. Since it was the 3rd mural we’ve done, and we worked more calmly taking our time and enjoying it.
McKenzie: The pace this time was really interesting. The first two days blew by like they were nothing but the third day seemed to take forever. We had done most of the major work that needed to be done on the murals in the first two days, so the last day was doing whatever else we needed to finish and clean up any areas we thought needed it, which is why it felt like it took so much longer.
What was your role in the process of brainstorming/ coming up with the design for these murals? How do you feel the final murals compared with the initial planning stages?
Nzinga: I was in charge of the portrait of the mural. The final mural compared to the initial planning stages is always interesting in terms of editing ideas for the sketch. We knew we wanted to incorporate an animal into the sketch with a child, however, I was against having the animal on top of the child’s head; as we already painted on to other panels. I suggested to have it on the side of the person, as a companion, rather than a “hat”. The mural was better than I thought it was going to be, even though I have high expectations for our team already. 🙂
No: I personally didn’t like my own sketch but it was interesting to put my thoughts onto a paper and see it for real. I really like how things [progressed from] the first stage to the finished mural, it looks amazing to me.
Lily: Fran, Mckenzie and I designed and worked on our mural all together. I made the sketch for our reference and Fran colored it. Mckenzie was able to help us brainstorm some ideas, such as having kite in the background. I feel like the colors that we chose were planned well although I was slightly skeptical and was worried that the colors wouldn’t look good. The overall trying to see the sketch turn into a mural was hard to see as well because of the huge differences of style that we were painting in. But seeing the final results of the mural made me reassured that we did a good job 🙂
McKenzie: The process of coming up with the mural was really fun because we all had different ideas of what to do and we were able to incorporate many of them in a way which created a really interesting mural. The final mural is not quite what I imagined it being, but is very close. We made some changes while painting it that led to the outcome being slightly different then the original plan, but I believe that they turned out well.
How do you feel you’ve progressed as an artist from the first on-site mural, at Carter, to this one?
Nzinga: As as artist, I feel that I have moved from different styles from our guest artists, and then given the opportunity to lead a portrait at this one. I was able to be put in unfamiliar methods of painting, and got the chance to work on my strengths in between with my personal piece. This helped me practice for the portrait at Edgerton.
Lily: I definitely gained more experience/knowledge on murals and how to paint at a larger scale. As well with working with paint a lot more frequently than I would have on my own time. There were many techniques that I also learned while painting. Time management was another thing I learned as well.
McKenzie: I feel like I have been able to progress simply in how comfortable I have become while painting. When we first started I had barely touched a paint brush, so I was very nervous and stiff. Over time I have been able to become far more comfortable and gain some confidence when it comes to painting.
No: I feel like i’m still progressing as we keep working on murals and sketches, but i feel much better from the first mural to the one at Edgerton.
Alex: I think that my progress from the beginning until now has been good because before I started in the program I only drew in pencil and it was a great advance from the pencil to the brushes, etc and to work with paint. And I’m getting used to working with colors.
Did you have a favorite part of painting at Edgerton? Was there a part that was challenging?
Nzinga: My favorite, and most challenging, part was actually working on the portrait. Portraits are always difficult for me in the beginning stages of painting when trying to “map out” the colors of the face. However once I got past that, I was able to get into my comfort zone, blending the skin tone.
No: my favorite part of the painting was the birds on the wall and the stencil birds that was spray painted. it look so much better on the wall rather than on the paper.
Lily: There were many things that I liked that happened in Edgerton. Being able to come into work during the Spring Break made me happy overall because I wouldn’t have to isolate myself at home and do nothing; I was able to hang out with the Roc Paint crew and my friends 🙂 I remember on the third day where we were able to hear the step team upstairs above us practice while painting. Even though they were practicing, they were very synced up which I was really impressed with.
McKenzie: A challenge that was more personal was that I was stressing a bit because I was worried that we weren’t able to finish it to the point where we were satisfied. Although I wasn’t too stressed because getting feedback from the community and hearing them saying that they really loved it made me reassured and happy.
Alex: my favorite part was to have sprayed on the Roc Paint Division logo since I’ve never worked with spray paint in a design.
As is customary during our on-site projects, the kids at Edgerton had the opportunity to participate as well: in sort of a throwback to our children’s project last year at the Ryan Center, the little ones, led by Nari, painted their own birds that will fly alongside our murals.