Last Friday I put my paintbrushes down after a solid two months of sculpture painting for public art trails. After the year we’ve had it was an absolute dream! I’ve been working sculpture painting commissions back to back. I am knackered but as a mural artist I wouldn’t have it any other way! So today I’m going to share with you a little bit about the trails where you can find my work on display this year.
The first trail to launch this Summer is the Moor Otters trail this Friday. My Sir David Ottenborough design has already been revealed. Inspired by the great man himself and the lifelong love of learning about the animal kingdom that he inspires. This sculpture was painted back in March 2020 so the trail has been a long time coming. He’ll be on display in Dartmoor at the pannier market in Tavistock from May 28th 2021.
Cows About Cambridge
Now this sculpture has been under wraps the longest. I finished painting my cambridge Cow in November 2019. Although I do know where this one will be displayed I suspect it’s top secret currently but you can find out this Summer. The Cambridge Cows will be raising money for the charity Break and their work with young people. They will be displayed around the beautiful green belt city, inspired by the cows that roam free there. I’ve also teamed up with Thameslink and Mind to paint a second mini sculpture for the trail too.
Bears of Sheffield
As a Sheffield Based artist I am absolutely buzzing to have a sculpture in this trail! Last time there was a trail in Sheffield was before I knew anything about Wild in Art and the amazing trails they run. To work along other talented local illustrators from Sheffield, South Yorkshire and beyond has been a dream. The sculpture itself is a familiar design based on the bronze one that lives in the bear pit in the Botanical Gardens. The trail is raising money for Sheffield Childrens’ Hospital. I am very excited that I’ll be able to see my bright bold design stand out on my local streets soon.
Worcester’s Big Parade
This design is still under wraps but I will say that this design is going to look right at home in the monochromatic tudor architecture that the city is famous for. The elephant I have painted is sponsored by Worcester News and certainly bound to make an impact. Seeing this particular design hit the streets of such a beautiful historic city is going to make my spooky little heart very happy this summer.
Big Trunk Trail Luton
The first of my double trouble parades is the Big Trunk Trail. I’ll have 2 colourful elephants hitting the streets there this year. That’s 3 elephant sculptures total that I’ve painted these last 2 months. They couldn’t all look more different though!
Stockport’s Giant Leap
These frog sculptures were bursting with character before they ever had a lick of paint! The designs are secret but I will say that they are bursting with charm. I’ve painted two sculptures for this trail and it always amazes me how different the same sculpture can look with a different paint job.
So that’s a whopping 9 sculptures I’ve painted to be on display this summer around the UK. I can’t wait to share with you what I’ll be working on next. Keep an eye on my social media for the full sculpture design reveals and auction details later on in the year.
During lockdown 2020 I was writing twice weekly blogs on my mural art, sculpture painting & illustration work. I was happy to be busy as an illustrator and mural artist. Although I did have a backlog of news to share about exciting sculpture trails, collaborations and street art commissions. I had been hired to create a number of painted artworks in Sheffield, Yorkshire and across the UK and I wanted to tell you all about it. A weekly blog meant that there was too much to share so I doubled my post output.
However this meant twice the work writing and in August 2020 I became an artist full time. I had to step up my game as a business woman and as opportunities began to arise again after a truly tumultuous year, the blog writing took a backseat.
Mural Art Opportunities During the Pandemic
It’s been such a relief to be so busy. In these last few months I have been working flat out, mainly on painting sculptures for a number of public art sculpture trails across the UK. This is a huge difference from 2020. Although I found some notable local painting projects to work on including the Bears of Sheffield sculpture trail and the Whirlow Hall Farm chicken shed mural this was a drastic decrease in painting projects for me. My online shop took precedence as did my digital illustration commission work. I am proud that I was able to pivot my business to refocus on these areas to survive the pandemic, but oh boy did I miss painting!
Unfortunately, with public spaces quieter than ever, events cancelled and a surge in people working from home, who had any incentive to commission a mural painting?
2021 So far
In the first 4 months of 2021 I’ve already been commissioned to paint more than twice what I was commissioned in 2020. A huge part of this has been sculpture trails. This follows Wild in Art and many other trails having postponed projects scheduled for 2020 until Summer 2021. This means that I will have 9 sculptures on display this Summer and I have already run my own recycled monsters sculpture trail in collaboration with Art Waves Bridlington and had a painted bird sculpture displayed in the town too.
I am optimistic that the Summer will bring some more mural painting opportunities. However this time I’ll make sure not to neglect my blog quite so much too.
If you are interested in following my progress and seeing where all my artworks will be on display in 2021 remember to check out my blog next week when I cover them all or visit my instagram account @sianellisartist
Last week was my second and final week of painting my Bears of Sheffield sculpture. Eeeek! It’s the first time that I have started a sculpture and then had a four day break in the middle. It was a revelation! It allowed me to come back fully charged, refreshed and having missed my bear! I got right back to work. The first day after the break felt the most productive painting day. I seemed to get some much done in terms of getting all the first layers of paint down and starting the second.
Remember, the bear is like 7ft tall, so we are talking a lot of paint! It always surprise me how far a little pot of paint will go! I always finish sculpture painting with paint to take home, more than I’d expect to.
Second layer (and third and fourth!)
It’s always a bit of a guessing game how many layers each paint is going to need to look good. But once the first layer is down, it’s all an endurance test. You just keep going until it’s done. I personally love this part of painting. It’s automatic to a degree as you already have all of your first layer mapped out. You just keep working and see your piece get better and better. I guess what I enjoy is that you see your work improve without any of the fear of making the wrong artistic choice throughout.
The finishing touches
I got a bit anxious when it came time to add the last layer of detail to my sculpture. I knew it would drastically change the piece but the most effective way to paint it would be to add it on as a new layer at the end. It meant that I created something I was really happy with but I then had to commit to making a big change to it. So yeah, it was scary! Luckily it pai off big time. Yes the design looked different, but better!
I was sad to finish it. Knowing that it could very likely be my last sculpture of 2020. I love painting sculptures sooooo much! I am staying positive that 2021 will have some more!
What I really love about it is that it is very ‘me’. I think people will look at it and immediately think ‘that’s Sian’s!’ It is such a great opportunity that I have had to do this. This week I will return to varnish it and I am so excited to see how much the colours start to pop when I do. It’s a shame that he’ll have to then go into hibernation for over a year, but I am looking forward to being reunited with an old friend. On the streets of Sheffield, July 2021.
After 1645 months in quarantine I was elated to get out and paint last week. I have craved big painting projects in lockdown. Sculptures and murals, I love them! Working on a big scale is an unparalleled creative experience. I feel expressive and a bit naughty like I am a kid drawing on a wall at home. Blooming love it though! I have been gurning to do some big painting for months. Finding out I was a successful artists for the trail during lockdown was a huge win for me. The promise of a painting project coming up was brilliant.
I am going to dedicate a future blog post entirely to this subject. Packing for painting off site is a tough thing to get totally right. Feeling a little rusty from not being able to leave the house, this took some extra thought this time. Paints, brushes, sarnies and podcasts sorted, I was ready!
We are painting in a super secret painting space. The staff at the Children’s Hospital have done a brilliant job of keeping us socially distanced and safe. It means that there are sadly less artists together at a time, but painting alongside even just a couple of people has been totally refreshing after life in quarantine. First impression is that these bears are HUGE! I think 7 ft tall? They even have a base to paint which I wasn’t expecting. I got a start on sanding and printing and accepting that my next few weeks will be a lot of time up and down ladders!
Getting the design right was the main theme of today. Translating a 2D design to a huge 3D an as is difficult. Not just in terms of scale but in following the sculpture shape. It took a while to work out where the components of the design were best to sit. You can never been too prescriptive in translating a flat design onto a shaped canvas. Things will need to move and change to suit the curves of the piece. The most challenging part as the bear’s head. A very flat picture is an elongated and complex shape in reality. Getting the flow of the piece right was a big focus of the day.
I took me until the third day to get my first layer of paint down fully. I started this on day 1. On such a huge sculpture it is such a big job! Trying to get as much paint down as possible and lock in the whole design was the flavour of the day. By the end of the third day I had just started on my second layers of colour in an attempt to flatten the design and make the colours bolder.
I have another three days booked in to paint next week. This is the first time I have had such a break halfway through painting. I needed it! Months in lockdown means I need a bit of warm up time. Painting big is a really physical job. It also means I have an extra few days to get excited before going back to hopefully finish the piece. Wish me luck!
I am always excited to announce new projects. If you have read any other of my announcement blogs, you’ll know. In this current climate though, it is even better! Lockdown has been scary in that regard. Although it’s bought new opportunities too! Hearing That I have successfully been picked for Bears of Sheffield though? I was buzzing!
After painting on so many sculpture trails, the idea of not painting one in my home city would be pretty rubbish. To get confirmation of a new painting project after these last few months is amazing enough, but a sculpture trail in Sheffield is just perfect! This will be my 9th charity sculpture paint since March 2019.
Bears of Sheffield
The trail will run in 2021 and raise money for Sheffield Children’s Hospital. In 2015 the charity ran the herd of Sheffield project with Wild in Art. Having learnt a trick or two they’ve gone solo. I don’t want to ruin any surprises, but as an artist on the project I am in some excellent company.
The sculpture design is based on the statue in the old bear pit in the Botanical gardens. A bit of a grizzly inspiration (ahem) but undoubtedly a great form. The mascot of the charity is a bear too. The statues themselves are absolutely huge. This will be the tallest sculpture I have painted and I predict a step ladder will get some use.
The design, as always is under wraps. I can give you a couple of clues though. The piece I will be painting is going to be bold, bright and very me! When I heard that was the shortlisted design, I was slightly shocked. It was the most experimental design I submitted, but I always like to submit a bit of a wild card. I do it in the hope that it will get picked, of course. But it’s usually a design that’s a bit wilder than your average sculpture.
I cannot wait to bring the design to life and I think about how sweet it will be when the trail goes live. A whole year after painting! I start my work on the sculpture next week. It’ll be a dream to go out to work again (socially distanced of course!).
Follow me on social media for some sneaky peeks at the process 🙂