The Roc Paint team was thrilled to welcome back one of our guest artists from last year to lead our first on-site mural of 2019. Vince Ballentine also joined us to lead our first project in 2018, and once again he came all the way from New York City to work with our crew. This year under his leadership, we added a large and stunning piece to the walls of the Adams Street R-Center, where it joins the murals led last year by Aubrey Roamer.
Read on for thoughts on the process- from Vince himself, then from our youth artists. Special thanks and photo cred to youth artist Katie for championing the documentation of this project and taking photographs just as fantastic as her painting.
Vince: This is my second year working with Roc Paint Division and it keeps getting better. We spoke over Skype and developed a concept based on their input. The group visited the Recreation center selected as the mural site, and took pictures of a several youth to be included as reference in our mural. Being this group was rather skilled, I decided to make the design complicated to keep it interesting for them. For three days the group conquered complex shapes, value, tone, and perspective as a cohesive team. Although I was there to lead the production, I think they learned a good amount from each other, and I learned a thing or two from them.
What did you learn from the design process (photographing youth models/ lighting/etc.)? Did you feel any pressure painting portraits of youth who were at the center?
Selah: Although I did not paint any portraits personally, I could tell that the process was very difficult and at some points stressful for those doing the two portraits. It really digs into your mind that your biggest critic when creating a portrait, will be the model for said painting. It is easy to obsess on perfection when doing portraits.
Katie: Deciding what to do with the design was fun because we all had ideas which we pulled together easily. I learned that using models to map out the light and where the portraits are going to go and who they are is important to the final design. The lighting on the reference photo really helped with doing the portraits. At first it was difficult to make the youth look alike and me and Mya really wanted to do well with our portrait, but it was easy once we started painting.
What was the experience like working on site at Adams Street R-Center on a large wall (especially compared with working at the lodge on a smaller scale?
Selah: Being that this was my first time painting an on-site mural, it was very eye opening and exciting to be in the midst of the R-Center and its regular environment. It felt welcome into the space and I also felt responsible in a way for hopefully putting smiles on the kids faces. I loved it.
Katie: At first it was overwhelming, painting a bigger wall seemed like we wouldn’t finish on time. Once we started and we laid everything out with the underpainting it got easier. Working on site had more restrictions like we had to be careful with music or what we said but it was fun!
Mya: The experience was really fun! Usually, we are working out in the open, but this time, we kind of had our own room which meant less kids. Not saying I don’t like when there are kids watching us, but the privacy allowed us to play music and talk more freely which was nice. The wall was really big but I didn’t doubt that we wouldn’t finish in time.
What did you find challenging about this mural?
Katie: Painting the hand holding the lantern was the most challenging thing I’ve ever painted. I had to get the lighting correct and I was really close up and had to be on a ladder which was hard to do and get comfortable with. In the end I think I did okay with it, I feel like I could have done better though.
Selah: Mainly living up to expectation. Not at all did I ever feel like I would be hated for imperfect work. But within myself there was always this sense of need to get things right for everyone that would see Roc Paint’s work on the wall of that R-Center. Just like the people working on portraits, I found it hard not to obsess over little details.
Mya: What was probably the most challenging part was working on a portrait with another person. When I usually paint portraits, it is just me doing that part, so to have someone else working on the same part as me was a little hard to adjust to in the beginning. By the 3rd day though, we had the hang of it pretty well.
What did you find the most rewarding?
Selah: Placing our seal on the wall at the end. I smiled the biggest when we spray painted the Roc Paint symbol onto the wall, because it made our presence final. That seal was like saying “we came, we were awesome. And we’ll stay that way.” And I hope our art with be in the R-Center forever.
Nari: Seeing us as a team accomplish our first mural together was amazing. Everyone was happy and excited. It brings a warm feeling to know we’re doing this out of passion so that was most rewarding, being together as a team and sharing the passion of being muralists.
Jaelin: I found the joy in the kids and staff’s eyes after seeing the mural extremely rewarding.
What was the experience of working with Vince as a guest artist like?
Mya: It was really fun to work with Vince again! I got to work with him last year on the mural we did at Carter street so it was really nice to be able to work with him. He’s super chill and really nice when you ask questions and that’s always a plus.
Selah: Working with Vince, I felt like I’d known him for years. The vibes were nothing but chill and he was kind of like the cool uncle. Funny, calm, collected, always supportive and easy to talk to. I hope we see him again next year.
Nari: Since I worked with Vince last year, it was a welcome back. He’s very humorous and the mural was fun to work on. He’s a very talented guy from New York, and I enjoy working with him because the perspective on the piece was amazing. It’s very hard to paint in perspective, yet accomplish perspective alone. Or at least for me.
Katie: Vince was fun to work with because he was really funny! We learned a lot from him too which was nice, it was a different learning experience than what we got with Britney or Justin. Vince had really cool ideas and a really good vibe.
Do you have a favorite memory or moment from this project?
Nari: My favorite memory was when Vince called me “Spam” as an inside joke from the first time we met him. The fact that he remembered was great to me because old people forget things. Jk Vince isn’t that old, but you get my drift.
Selah: The second day of the project, we were all on bread doing check-in and I decide to spontaneously dip my cucumber slice into my cake frosting. I thought no one noticed, but slowly, one by one everyone was laughing at my not-so-undercover silliness. I couldn’t help but laugh with them all. This was my favorite moment because it gave me the warmest feeling on the inside to laugh with everyone like that. That moment still makes me feel warm and fuzzy. It reminds me so much of how I am with my family at home, always laughing and smiling and just united. But all three days were amazing because my team makes me feel at home.
Eli: One of our coworkers eating cucumber with cake frosting (sorry Selah)