Muralizing Your Pool. Part 2

Grant is not a traditional mural artist, but an artist who paints backdrops for corporate events and theatrical productions. While most of the other artists did not appear to have the time or enthusiasm to take on such a big project, Grant was eager for the opportunity to paint something that would not be taken down at the end of the night. And his specialty had taught him to be fast. “We have fierce deadlines in the event industry,” says Grant, who actually managed to finish ahead of schedule, working nonstop from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. “Some of the projects I do, I don’t even have time to design, only to get a big piece of fabric on the wall and start painting. I just make it up as I go. So I’ve learned how to paint on that scale and do it efficiently. At Wakefield, [having] eight days is a lot of time compared to what I’m usually doing. It was nice to have the luxury of having the time for research, design and execution.”

Designing the mural

Once Grant was hired, he worked with Gibson and other Wakefield staff members to come up with the mural’s subject. They decided on blending a colorful tropical ocean with the ruins of Atlantis. Then Grant drew a black-and-white, four-square-foot sketch of his ideas for the staff to consider. They decided to omit the potentially controversial statue of a nude man, buried to the waist in sand, and to add more dolphins.

For the second mural, Grant and the staff members initially considered a huge breaking wave, but decided it would be too much of a contrast. Instead, they continued along the same theme as the first mural, and turned to the pool patrons for input. Aquatic fitness instructors asked their students for suggestions. A comment box was set up in the lobby, and some people brought in photos of their favorite tropical fish. Eels, sea lions, hammerhead sharks and the sapphire-and-diamond necklace from Titanic all made it into the mural because of patron requests. Grant pulled it all together, incorporating special requests into his planned framework. “I had already decided on the basic elements, what the shapes and the planes were. To add a fish didn’t radically change anything. In fact, it was kind of fun to think, ‘Where would be a good place to put an eel?’ I have it coming out of a sunken archway.”

Eventually, Gibson would like a mural for the third wall, opposite the windows, to link the two murals and complete the undersea effect. For that, she and Grant envision more coral and aquatic life, maybe some manatees and steps leading up to Poseidon’s throne room, with plants growing out of the cracks in the stone.

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