One of my favourite projects in Guatemala is Brillo de Sol, a school for kids with special needs. I already had the pleasure to paint two murals there, now I just finished the third for the kids from The Universe (Grade 1 & 2). When Ilene Kradin offered to sponsor it (her second mural already! She also sponsored the one of the girl with rabbit and Luna the dog!), well, it was a done deal! I didn’t even have to make a design because the teacher, Ms. Jenny, had asked me if I could paint Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night. Well, of course! It happens to me one of my favourite paintings and to be able to paint it on such a large scale (3.8 x 2.9m) was a joy!
Usually I only paint my own designs, but to pretend to be Van Gogh for a change was a great opportunity. I was looking forward to use Van Gogh’s rough brushstrokes and follow his swirls and curls. It’s not easy to paint someone else’s style, but it is also a great way to really get to know a piece of art and of course learn a lot.
Last Saturday, Ilene and I (besides sponsoring the mural she also offered to help!) started with a grid and than painted most of the sky. We made good progress, but by the end of the afternoon I was not quite satisfied and couldn’t tell exactly why. So it was good to leave it for a day and come back on Monday, today, to finish it.
And this morning I realized what it was I didn’t like Vincent’s brush strokes! As much as I love them (in the original painting), they were too strong, too fierce, too imposing… So I decided to paint over them, blend colours, soften the whole image and make it lighter. Sorry Vincent! The result is much more tranquil and that is a good thing, because many of the kids in this classroom have concentration issues, so the last thing hey need is a crazy, frantic mural in their learning environment....
For the same reason, I also changed the Cyprus tree on the foreground. It was too dark and gloomy, too scary. Now it’s dancing in the wind with much lighter tones of purple, green and brown.
I sincerely apologize to Vincent van Gogh for making changes to his masterpiece. I hope he’d understand why. I can only say that the teacher and kids are happy and that’s what matters most to me.
Thanks a million to Ilene Kradin for sponsoring this and the previous mural, as well as for helping out!
And now that we’re back to the topic of sponsoring, the rest of the kids want a mural too! The Ocean kids (Grade 5 & &), The Forest (Grade 3 & 4) and The Scientists (Grade 7-8) all want to transform their wall. And you can help to do so! Sponsor a mural for only $250 and those kids will have a permanent work of art in their classroom… (Partial donations welcome too…)