Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wall Art for Everyone

Murals are considered to be one of the oldest forms of human art.

Murals date back to the Upper Paleolithic age and many have survived int he Egyptian tombs. Murals were a way of telling stories and/or expressing how one felt.

There are a few different styles of painting a mural and the terms come from the Italians.  A Fresco painting refers to when the paint is applied on the plaster or ceiling; Buon Fresco technique means painting in pigment mixed with water on a thin layer of wet, fresh, lime mortar or plaster. With this technique the pigment is absorbed by the wet plaster then, after a  few hours, the pigment dries and reacts with the air. It is this process with the chemical reaction that fixes the pigment in the plaster and the colors remain vibrant for centuries.

A Secco is a process where the painting is done on dry plaster and requires a binding agent such as egg (tempera), glue or oil to attach the pigment to the surface.
Mezzo-fresco is a style of mural painting that is done on nearly dry plaster. Although the pigment does partially penetrate the plaster this form does not have the longevity of the Buon Fresco style.
Tempera painting is one of the oldest methods of mural painting where the pigment is binded with egg yolk or egg white and diluted with water. But in the Greco-Roman times colors were ground in a molten beeswax or resin binder.

In 16th Century Europe an easier way of painting murals was discovered. The artist would complete an oil painting on canvas then transport it to the wall and attach the canvas. Oil paints however do not have the brilliance in color, tend to yellow from the influence of the binder or be affected by the atmospheric conditions. As well the canvas deteriorates faster than a plaster wall.

In modern times we have found many ways to mass produce murals and lessen the time needed to create them. Existing murals can be photographed and reproduced. These reproductions as well as digital advertising artwork can be attached to large sheets of vinyl then attacked the a wall and although they are technically known as 'wallscapes' they may be referred to as murals.

Murals bring art to the people without them having to go to a museum or art gallery. They beautify the surroundings and evoke emotion from those that see them. But a mural is a costly undertaking and are usually funded by the government or a large company.

(This is a new mural on Powell Street. I look at the size of that bear compared to the fish and want to warn him not to mess with them!)

In the 1930s murals became an important tool for social and political change in Mexico and the United States. From 1932 to 1940 Mexican artist Diego Rivera painted murals in San Francisco, Detroit and New York City. Other notable artists of the Mexican Mural Movement were Jose Orozco and David Siqueiros.

Northern Ireland is a place to go if you want to see political murals. It has recorded more than 2,000 murals since 1970  and contains some of the most political murals in the world.

Whenever I see a mural I take a photo of it. They are just so beautiful.

Then there are murals like this that speak of a tribute to someone. Here it is the legendary Jimi Hendrix who's grandparents lived here. I wrote on their homes when I went on a history tour of the Strathcona district.

Someone did their research. The houses, if you can see them, do resemble those I see in the Strathcona area.

This one tells the histroy of Vancouver - the rail and the sea and the worker.

I feel priveliged to be able to enjoy artwork such as this without having to go to a gallery or pay a fortune.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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