We see them, we admire them, we have no idea how much work goes into them. What am I taking about? Murals. These colossal works of street art adorn the walls of Hamilton, adding a colorful pop to the downtown landscape. One recent sunny summer day, I got the inside “mural” scoop and even got to add a little color to the wall myself. Here’s everything you’ve always wanted to know about Hamilton’s mural revival.
Artist, Ariel Williams, hard at work on her first ever mural project
My Big Break
I’m envious of those who can draw, paint, and bring their visions to life through art. I was graciously offered the opportunity to paint a tiny part of new mural, The Delicate Balance of Progress by artist, Annie Hamel, and sponsored by StreetSpark. The adventurer in me was thrilled, another part of me was… DON'T MESS THIS UP! I took my paint bucket, traversed the scaffolding, and after Mural 101 by lead artist, Nick, I was on my way. I had one color to master, and an outline of a lightbulb to avoid. I quickly discovered pressure must be applied, and attention to detail is required. Not enough paint? You won’t fill in all the crevices. Too much paint? You’re dripping down completed parts, or on an unsuspecting working artist! It took a few minutes, but I found my way into “the zone". I loved every minute. I have immense respect and admiration for the four true artists who painted the remaining 99.5%.
It's All About the Details
The planning is precise, the colors are specific, and there’s no rushing the process. Each mural design is sectioned into a grid system, each box contains a piece of the overall mural puzzle. Chalk lines are carefully slapped onto the wall, and box by box the design is stenciled to life. Lots of prep occurs before any paint is ever applied.
Patience, Mixing, and Matching are Essential
The vision takes shape over several weeks with the skilled work of professional artists. What paint is used? A specialty paint called NovaColor is carefully mixed, prepared, and matched as the artists work their way up, down, and across the scaffolding.
Mural painted by Nick Scrimenti, John McCoy, Lori Farr, and Ariel Williams
A Closer Look
For a more in-depth look, Lead Artist, Nick Scrimenti, graciously gave me a great perspective on what makes being a mural artist so cool. His passion for painting is contagious.
WHY DO YOU LOVE PAINTING MURALS?
“The feeling I get when I finally finish one, stand back and take in what all the hard work was for. It’s like nothing else.”
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE COMPONENT OF THE DELICATE BALANCE OF PROGRESS?
"Usually, I like what I think is going to be the most challenging thing to paint on a large scale. In this case, it is the metallic threading on the lightbulbs."
WHAT SHOULD PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT MURAL WORK?
"I don't care how good of a painter you are, painting something at a large scale like a mural is a TOTALLY different ball game. You could paint something that looks great up close, but when you walk down the scaffolding and back 50 feet, it doesn't make any sense at all. It’s a whole different way of painting."
Make a Day of Mural-ing
Get out, stretch your legs and go mural-ing. You don’t have to paint, you just have to enjoy. It’s important in life to find those moments where you can stand back, and just take it all in. I find that murals are perfect for those moments.
Murals of all shapes, sizes, and designs can be found throughout Hamilton:
Alexander - Near True West on Main
Delicate Balance of Progress - On the Unsung Salvage Design Co. building
Left Hander for Life - On the exterior wall of Clark's Sporting Goods
Make Way for McCloskey - Near Municipal Brew Works
Taking Flight - On the McDulin Garage
For more details be sure to check out StreetSpark’s website!