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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

BIG Inspiration!

More than just a "little Inspiration," this is a 4' diameter Inspiration
hex sign
Have I told you lately how much I love making BIG hex signs?  No? Well I'm going to! The largest they come (unless you have a big barn, lots of scaffolding or a nice "cherry picker," and are willing to cover my expenses for a week or so "away" while I mostly sit around (or help out on the farm) while waiting for the paint to dry) is a 4' diameter circle. The size is limited by the plywood from which I cut the disks. And honestly, a 4' circle of 3/4" thick exterior plywood is a bit to handle. A whole sheet, which is how I buy it of course, is twice as heavy and a real challenge to deal with in the winter, when the ol' farm truck, Artie, gets a rest in favor of the 4wd Subaru. Artie hauls the wood with ease. Actually Boo, the car, does as well... but getting the sheet to the roof rack without damage to the car is work, even with the help of the lumber yard guys, who are often notably less careful about the car's paint job than one might like.

Workout aside, I have discovered that the best way to cut the disk (since, at less than 5' tall, I don't have the reach with a jig saw that I would like) is to climb on top of the wood to cut the edge of the disk that runs through the center of the plywood sheet. Since I usually lay the plywood on my large garden cart, with it's metal sides up, the surface of the wood is thankfully low enough that this operation does not require a ladder. Sanding the disk is next, followed by priming. Of course priming, like drawing and painting the design, requires a large flat surface.

I typically paint my signs on a 2' diameter circular table (with a hex painted on it, of course!) but the large signs take up a LOT of room and that area in the studio is somewhat crowded, so the kitchen table -- itself circular and 3' diameter -- makes a better resting place for the 4' signs. An added feature to using the much larger and heavier kitchen table is that I can lever the sign against the edge of the table when placing it to paint, or flipping it to prime the back side.

This does render the kitchen table useless for typical kitchen table chores, though, for the duration of the drawing and painting. It is currently canning season... with a small kitchen and a large garden, well let's just say that I get added motivation to paint efficiently!

Remember that workout I was talking about? Well, no workout is complete without stretches, right? And the Painting a Big Hex workout has those too! My arms have not gotten any longer since I had to cut across 4' of plywood, so drawing and then painting the center of the design is something best done standing, and the stretch goes from the legs, up the back and down the arms. Relax into it, then straighten and do a back bend... Could this maybe be "hex yoga?"

Usually I paint from the inside out, as much as the colors will allow. Starting with the lighter colors allows a bit of "trapping" to borrow a term from my graphic design career, and eliminates white or light color lines between two areas of color when the background color shows through.

Of course, since I am using exterior house paint for these projects, each element in the design, each color, gets at least two coats. That makes for some nice stretching time, and meditation as well, as the larger signs, with their larger areas of color, make it easy to fall into "the zone."  It's exciting to see the design develop, no matter what size sign I am painting, but the large ones really seem to reach out and grab you!

I have a run of small and indoor signs in the queue at present... not a one over 12" diameter. They will be sitting here and there about the studio, drying colors between coats and there will be many cans, jars and tubes of paint laying around for a while as I work on multiple designs on both fabric and wood, for the next couple of weeks. It's a good change of pace.

But I have half a sheet of 3/4" ply in the garage that is calling me and I anxiously await the next BIG order. In the coming weeks I will be adding a financing option to the store page so watch for the news of that feature. There will be no reason not to order the big signs if you want one (well... maybe you will need a bigger barn... )