Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Getting Started

Happy New Year and welcome to my blog about the art installation and collaborative youth project in progress at the Capoeira Mandinga Academy in Oakland!  This is the first of many (I hope) posts on this blog, which I hope to update as frequently as possible during the next few months.

Lots of work has been going on behind the scenes since my last update in July 2011, and now work on the large canvas is in full swing!

Putting together the stretcher bars and cross braces...
We ordered all of the supplies needed to build the trio of canvases (also known as a triptych) back in November.  I started building the aluminum and wooden stretcher frame and cross-braces for the large 6’ by 12’ canvas on January 2. 
The assembled stretcher bars
Because this painting is so large, I am working on it onsite at the Mandinga Academy on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland.  This is incredibly exciting, since folks will be able to see the painting progress each week, but it also presents a number of unique challenges that I’ve never dealt with before in my studio! There’s the danger that someone might accidentally land a backflip or a parafuso (a flying kick) on the painting, or maybe just lean back against it in their white uniform to catch their breath, only to walk away covered in oil paint!  Luckily Mestre Marcelo and some of our Instrutors have been helping to devise some ingenious systems to protect the painting!
Squaring the corners before stretching the canvas helps prevent warping

Working from the centers out to the corners, I use canvas pliers to pull the canvas tight and then staple it to the back. (OK i know this photo is not that exciting, but this process took hours!)
On Monday, January 14, we had our first informal workday with some of our older Mandinga kids.  De Cara (Jack), Joaninha (Laura), Raposa (Grace), Piscadina (Sarah), Elizabeth (Tortoruga), and Sombra (Shyla) were all kind enough to come by the academy on a school holiday and help out with building the large canvas.  They helped me finish stretching the canvas, learned how to fold the corners of a stretched canvas, prepped the canvas for initial coat of size, helped me set up my makeshift studio.  Most importantly, they had a blast just goofing around!
Demonstrating proper corner-folding technique (Photo: Sombra)
Pintora and Tortoruga (Photo: Joaninha & Sombra)

Raposa, holding it down (Photo: Joaninha & Sombra)

Sombra and De Cara just hanging out (Photo: Joaninha)

Raposa and De Cara (Photo: Joaninha and Sombra)
Joaninha preps the canvas for the first coat of size (Photo: Sombra)
For a sense of scale...Sombra, Joaninha and Piscadinha
 L-R: De Cara (Jack), Sombra (Shyla), Joaninha (Laura), Tortoruga (Elizabeth), Sumido (Sam), Pintora (Anna), Piscadinha (Sarah), Raposa (Grace)
For me, one of the most important parts of making a painting is planning.  This means that I like to do a lot of research, and for this project I have spent countless hours on google image searches, asking friends for all of their pictures of Brazil, working closely with Mestre Marcelo to incorporate subtle references to capoeira’s largely undocumented history, and dreaming of taking a trip to Brazil myself.  One day…but the timetable for this project demanded working from an assortment of different found photographs, pulling bits and pieces together to create the image I will paint from.  I have created a digitally collaged image, from which I am currently making a pencil drawing, as well as a couple of small oil sketches, which I will use to work out proportions and my color palette-this is absolutely crucial on a piece this large.  To make the actual oil painting, I will need the photo collage, the pencil sketch and all color sketches.

And speaking of planning, we're almost done working out the details for the kids project I will do this summer.  Stay tuned, because we will be announcing dates very soon!
Finally, a very special thank you to our supporters: Y’all made this whole thing possible!

Patron Sponsors
Ms. Janice Batchelder
Ms. Susan Kumagai
Ms. Joyce Hicks and Mr. Eric Behrens
Mr. Gary Lafayette

Gold  Sponsors
Ms. Donna Lee (Algodao)
Mr. Mitchell Slade (Eco-struction)
Mr. Warren and Ms. Elizabeth Ludwig

Dr. Michael Whalen
Ms. Keri Lloyd
Ms. Catherine Jordan
Ms. Elizabeth Blase
Ms. Ola Dlugosz (Mel)
Mr. and Mrs. Robert Bentley
Ms. Clara Marigmen
Mr. Eli Batchelder and Ms. Simona Agnolucci
Mrs. Terry Ludwig

...and thanks to all the individuals who donated to this project!

This project is supported by a grant from the East Bay Fund for Artists and the East Bay Community Foundation.