An urgent message last Thursday morning from a friend, Lorene Mills, asked if I would be able to help an out-of-town artist, John Pugh. Pugh is a renown trompe l’oeil muralist master who has painted many amazing murals around the world. His current project is a mural commissioned by George R. R. Martin, located on the back wall of Martin’s Jean Cocteau Cinema in Santa Fe (more photos below).
|Jean Cocteau mural detail.|
I met John behind the Jean Cocteau at 3 pm Thursday afternoon and he started describing what needed to be done. Soon, Greg and George, a couple of art students from IAIA (Institute of American Indian Arts) showed up and the four of us spent the night on the scaffolding. When I left at 4:30 Friday morning, John Pugh and the other two artists were still working away and were there until long after sunrise.
From the all-night conversations we had, I learned a lot about Pugh’s technique of using acrylic glazes (dozens of glazes) and blending of colors. It was like a 12 hour master class. I didn’t contribute much, but I learned a lot. Including how hard it is to paint outdoors in the cold and dark with lights casting shadows of scaffolding all over the art. The painted shadows looked so real it was hard to tell the painted shadows from the real ones. Climbing up and down three levels of scaffolding all night and painting in weird, uncomfortable positions while sitting or standing on scaffolding gave me a real appreciation of the fact that Pugh had already been painting here for two weeks, mostly at night. The main goal for Thursday night was to finish everything that was high on the wall, because the scaffolding was to be removed the next morning.
I went back to the site Friday night to check on the mural. The scaffolding was gone but John and assistant Greg were still there painting final touches. I delivered a large coffee and a hazelnut latte to Greg and John, chatted for while, then headed back home to work on another much smaller art project. Much smaller. And indoors.
It was a great privilege to be involved in any small way, and to make friends with John and the other assistants, Greg and George.
What a dragon!
What a night.
What a memory.
|John Pugh retouches a small section.|
|George paints with a headlamp.|
|Lots of paint and brushes to trip over.|
|View from level two of the four-level scaffolding.|
|A scaffold of artists work through the night.|
|George uses blue tape to mask a section at ground level.|
|Painting and masking, Friday night.|
|John Pugh uses blue tape to plan where additional shading will go.|
|George and John.|
|Blue taping the night away.|
|The photographer and archivist of the project delivers coffee to the artists.|