When we visited Eric Bransby's studio this past spring ("Writing on the wall," April 7), the anniversary mural he was building for the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center was about ready for paint. That is, the mural's cartoons, or drawings, were almost finished. From there, the 94-year-old Bransby and his 23-year-old assistant, local artist Trevor Thomas, could sandwich a piece of carbon paper between the drawings and the Masonite panels and trace over the lines of the cartoons, transferring the lines to the panels.
Bransby and Thomas have now done that and started painting. Much of what's on the panels now is "underpainting" — layers that will be painted over again, but that will still help determine how the mural reaches a person's eyes from 25 to 60 feet away. For instance, by putting a layer of bright orange underneath the figures, and cooler colors over the top, Bransby should create some powerful, but realistic, skin tones.
"You get a vibration with that hot stuff underneath," he says.
Other colors, like certain swaths of green, are just applied directly, Thomas explains. They lay flatter, which helps break up the mural, and guide the eye.
Bransby's task with the FAC's anniversary mural is prodigious, as it must incorporate the institution's numerous facets, from visual arts to dance to drama to student instruction, within its 30 feet of length. And Bransby says his progress has slowed considerably due to his wife Mary Ann's illness and recent death. He's been planning a memorial service for her that will take place Friday, Sept. 9, at Colorado College's Shove Memorial Chapel.
But time is on his side: The FAC has agreed that the mural will be finished only when Bransby feels it's done. For now, he won't hint at a completion date.
When the piece is ready for installation, above a large black donor wall in the FAC's main hallway, the artists will enact a no-nonsense plan for getting everything to the museum.
Says Thomas, "I'm sure it'll just be a handful of people and a lot of blankets."