Many sincere thanks to guest blogger and superb marketing strategist Debbie Smith of Intuit Marketing for interviewing Chloe for this post!
A Coach Street wall in Downtown Canandaigua will be donning a new look this summer. A mural, depicting Canandaigua's iconic imagery, is soon to be debuted for the community and visitors to enjoy. This collaborative project encompasses historical paintings from five local artists, each contributing their own illustrative components.
Amidst a busy production schedule, each artist carved out some time to reflect on and share their unique creative experience, including the specific challenges they've encountered and the particular processes they've utilized to integrate their own artistic expression.
Our second artist spotlight is Chloe Smith, who is painting Granger Homestead, a steamboat on the lake, the boathouses on the pier, Squaw Island and native Iroquois, and native flora & fauna of the Finger Lakes region. Be sure to read an overview of the how the whole project came together here. Also, you can read a previous post highighting artist Melissa Newcomb here.
How has this project been different from other projects you've worked on?
Chloe: It’s much larger than anything I’ve previously painted, and only my second outdoor mural, though the first was much smaller. It’s also my first time using Evolon as a surface, I normally paint on wood or canvas, which receives paint very differently. Also, collaborating with other artists on a public art project has been a new experience for me.
Did you consider this project to be a stretch or challenge for you? How so?
Chloe: The greatest challenges for me were mostly logistical. It was difficult to create a space in my studio to accommodate the mural. The preliminary stage of mapping out the small sketch onto such a large surface one portion at a time was also trickier than I anticipated. I attached a metal pipe to a wire and hung it from the ceiling, and then used that as a crank to raise and lower the mural depending on what section I was working on. Getting everything to line up was tough.
Were you able to make any creative suggestions or changes to the original sketch to make your part of the mural look more like your own style? If so, how did you do this?
Chloe: I used the layout from the original sketch, but I added in a number of elements that I thought would complement the piece and would be appreciated by the community–for example the boathouses, the Native American figures, and the fish and floral imagery which are all species native to Canandaigua. In terms of style, I wanted to convey a sense of movement and interaction between the subjects so that nothing seemed stagnant or unchanging. To do this I used expressive brush strokes a lot of color variation throughout.
What have you learned?
Chloe: I’ve learned that focusing on color and form rather than details is the important thing because they will be most apparent from a distance. It’s also vital to step back from the easel continuously and to keep moving around as you work. If you focus on one spot for too long then you end up with some areas more developed than others. This leads to less balance and continuity overall. Also If you don’t take breaks you will drive yourself crazy.
What do you feel makes a project like this successful?
Chloe: I think that if you have multiple artists working on a large project like this, it’s good to provide each other with feedback and support but also to lend each artist the freedom to make their own calls. Some of my favorite murals are collaborations between artists with very different styles because there is that element of unpredictability. And I think on a deeper note these projects can symbolize the capacity that all people have to create something unique and beautiful when we work together and build off each other’s diverse strengths and ideas.
Chloe Smith resides in Scottsville, NY. She graduated from RIT with a BFA in Illustration in 2014. Since then she has been a freelance illustrator, street chalk artist, and working on creating illustrated botanical notebooks. Prior to this project, she has completed three large indoor murals, one outdoor mural, and currently beginning a series of painted furniture. Read more about Chloe and see her work by visiting her website at www.clo.space.