Week Two of Painting for the Bears of Sheffield Trail

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. 

New Sculpture Announcement: Bears of Sheffield

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. 

My Design

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 🙂 

Window Painting at Pieminister, Sheffield

At the end of February I was approached by Pieminister to paint the windows of their Sheffield branch. This was for their March Pie Week campaign. There was a lot about this to get excited about. Firstly, I really really REALLY wanted to try window painting. I put some feelers out just before Halloween 2019. Hopeful I could try it, I made some mock ups. I didn’t get any commissions that Halloween though but I wasn’t deterred.

Secondly, Pieminister found me. This is always a great boost. It means that I am doing something right to get noticed. It’s not uncommon to get lots of unsolicited approaches that are unfavourable termed (read: unpaid and exploitative) so to be approached by a client with a great national profile for a paid gig is always good.

Hang on, did you say Pie Week?

I did indeed! The project was part of their national Pie Week where customers got the chance to win prizes with their orders. As part of their promotional strategy for this they commissioned artists local to their branch locations to create temporary window paintings.

The Process

Firstly I had to ensure that my design captured what they were after. This included using the correct fonts and colours of their Pie Week campaign. After approval I went about sourcing some Posca Pens in the right shades. I cannot recommend Posca’s enough. I haven’t found an imitation brand that comes anywhere close to the quality and performance of these pens. They are pretty pricey but they are worth every penny.

Half of the skill in translating a design onto a large canvas is in scaling it up. There are a variety of ways in which artists do this, but personally I rely on using masking tape to mark crucial points of the design on the painting surface, which I can stand back from and eye up the balance of the piece and adjust these points if necessary. This is by no means a method that will suit everyone’s style but it works for me. It also works on glass which rules out the option of sketching on the surface first. 

Check, check and check again

I find it really important whilst window painting to go outside the window regularly and look at the piece. Remember, not only are you scaling your work up, you are painting it backwards on the inside of the window for the benefit of viewers outside. This is especially taxing when writing text. By constantly reviewing your design from the viewers stand point you are able to remedy anything you aren’t happy with throughout. 

Please sir, can I have some more?

I absolutely loved completing this commission. I stood alongside talented artists completing their own pieces on other restaurant windows across the country. I look forward to completing more window paintings in future. If you have a business or know of one that you think could benefit from some temporary window art, drop me a message on my online form and let’s chat!