There are going to be very few moments that make you feel like you “are” an artist. Most of my life I have suffered greatly from imposter syndrome especially during my BFA studies for art (more on that some other time) but that was not the case during Marquette’s Fifth Annual Art Week.

Opportunities Come from Saying Yes

As a member of the Marquette Artist Collective I was asked to volunteer my time and talent to create a mural on a garage door by Northern Lights Glass and the City of Marquette Arts and Culture director Tiina Harris. A Piet Mondrian inspired mural was suggested. And this mural would be part of the art week celebration in Marquette, MI.

And because I’ve always wanted to be a part of a public project I said yes! I also have some handy skills at the ready to attack such a project.

Each Challenge is a Chance to Learn

There were two obstacles to proceeding with this project: the shape the door was in and height of the garage. I had to use scaffolding to reach the top. This is nearly a two story garage, you could park a bus in it. I also had to use a specialty peel stop primer (the first I ever heard of such a thing). After scraping away the loose paint chips and a quick wash, I painted on two layers of primer. For good measure I used a high quality exterior paint for the mural itself. I hope that will help the mural survive the brutal temperature changes Marquette goes through for as long as possible.

The Process

Photoshop sketch

The design was straight forward and easy to execute. I used the lines of the garage door for most of the color blocks. The time saver: using a projector to get the red winged blackbird on door rather than a grid.

Prior to painting I created a garage template in photoshop and painted a few different versions of the color blocks. Originally I was going to have a cat on the door instead of the red-winged blackbird, but I couldn’t resist the way the colors in the wing nodded back to Mondrian’s palette.

Inspired by Piet Mondrian

If I was looking for inspirational artists from the twentieth century to create a mural from, Mondrian would not be my pick. I was honestly never a fan and I bristled a little when I first heard the suggestion. Within moments I got over my personal feelings about the design aesthetics (maturity?) and realized the potential of this inspiration pairing with the underlaying structure of the door. I also concluded that I would have control over the shades of red, yellow and blue I used. That ability to put my personal touch on the project made it an easy yes, despite it being a project outside my usual aesthetics.

A Lot Like an Artist

Then Art Stroll, the cherry on top of everything! Tamama Dance Company Danced their way through town and up to the mural just as the local news was doing a live spot on it. I even sucked it up and participated in an interview and tried not to be too difficult. A bit of a crowd showed up.

And then it happened…

I felt a whole lot like an artist.

I have some Thanks to Give.

I was too overwhelmed in the moment to properly socialize. So I’m saying my proper thank you’s here.

Tamama Dance Company: That Art Stroll performance was amazing

Tiina Harris and The City of Marquette Arts and Culture Center: I always wanted to do something fun like this. And thankfully they were able to help with the equipment.

Marquette Artist Collective: Cheers to opportunities and dreams coming true.

HOTplate Pottery: having the tool a woman needed (a projector, don’t be weird)

TV6 News: really. For showing up when you did and putting up with the weird. I’m glad I did it.

5 thoughts on “The Mondrian Garage Project

  1. As an artist, I think many of us suffer from imposter syndrome! Usually I just feel lazy…But I honestly have enjoyed all of the work I have seen by you. I’m so happy you took on this project. You made it Mondrian inspired, not a Mondrian imitation, and your bird is amazing. I will smile every time I drive down Third Street, and you have made it a happier drive for our community.
    I’m hoping you applied to be a painter on the Power of Words Project mural on Third and Ohio. I’m hoping to be one of those as well.
    Thank you for your time and efforts!

  2. I need to check this out….how cool! One can’t help smiling when they see this-awesome job!!! Can’t wait to see it up front & personnel…

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Taryn Okesson: Visual Artist
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