Some projects are fun and exciting, some are challenging and creative, and others are just hard labor. This job was one of those backbreaking, labor-intensive, rush jobs that require taking my time, and using a lot of patience. How do you execute a rush job while taking your time? We sacrifice sleep for work.
This project was rough, we needed to paint plaster to look like the existing brick, and put a perfect logo in the middle of that. This is not the most difficult request, however, throw in the fact that it’s outside, windy, 20 feet off the ground, we are using tape and stencils, the businesses open, and the customers entering and leaving right below us. On top of that, the tape and stencils do not want to stick to this dusty textured surface. It was also more of a favor to a friend than a job, but wait, there’s more…
Because of the layout of the building, We could not use a lift and we had to use scaffolding. Before We started and after we finished every day, we had to carry, construct, and dismantle hundreds of pounds worth of metal scaffolding. I also had to set up the cameras, the airbrushes, and compressors, plus plastic to avoid spills. And once this two hour process was completed, then we got to work.
The bricks needed to be level, straight, and exact. The logo also needed to be level and exact. I should not have used vinyl for the stenciling, but it was such a rush job, that I had to hire somebody else to cut these stencil for me, while I was finishing up another job, so I didn’t have my stencil material option. The vinyl and the masking tape would fall off the wall once placed. We had to spray glue onto the backs of all of the stencils and even the tape, prior to placing it. It’s hard to tell, but in this video, I’m placing white stencils on a white wall.
3. Mortar Color & Tape
I applied the logo stencil first, then I painted the whole wall the color of the mortar that goes in between the real bricks that I’m attempting to match. I will usually basecoat it with a medium gray, and then I would either speckle or sponge roll on a dark gray, then one more layer of light grey. This creates a stone like texture once dried. I then measure, level, and draw every line that will represent the mortar. I find tape that is the exact width of the spaces between the bricks, and then cover each line with that tape. Once all of the mortar lines are covered with tape, I begin mixing the colors for the actual bricks.
4. Brick Color
Once all of the mortar lines are covered with tape, I begin mixing the colors for the actual bricks. I spray this part, using a variance of color combinations to keep it random looking.
5. Removing Tape
And once all of the bricks are base coated, we then add the texture. The bricks that I was matching all had vertical lines, raised up, creating vertical shadows. I reached into my texture box, it’s a real thing, and grabbed an old beat up brush, that could give me randomly spaced lines. I watered down a dark brown paint, and lightly dragged it across the bricks, creating that same shadow effect. Once those shadows on the bricks were done, we carefully remove the tape, without disturbing the vinyl stencil underneath.
6. Adding Shadows
We then hand-painted a shadow around every brick, 338 to be exact. Once the shadows were completed, the bricks were done, and I then airbrushed the bigger drop shadows onto the logo itself, helping that to really add contrast to the image, and making it stand out even more. The drop shadow is the easiest yet most important part to every piece.
Once the drop shadow on the logo was done, we were done, and it’s time to clean up, touch up, and bask in the afterglow of a job well done.
That's a Wrap
There was more precision and calculation in this project and there was artistic skill. The process was tedious, and not as fun as normal. On these types of jobs, I find my peace in finishing. I sacrificed fun for accuracy, it just takes some mind over matter. I go through inner struggle sometimes, but that only adds to the sense of pride and accomplishment in the end. Every time that I put myself through this, I expect to be exhausted. But that feeling that I get upon completion is like a triple shot of espresso, mixed in with an ounce of euphoria. It’s a moment and feeling that I can’t describe, and I’m not sure if anyone other than an artist can relate. But it is often the payoff. It fills me with the satisfaction that lasts much longer than the money made from this job. It is sometimes more important or more impactful than getting paid for the service performed. And I can revisit that feeling every time that I view the images. I feel blessed to have a job that can provide me with this character building scenario, that I learn and grow from every time that I paint.