Bill Lauer and the 20’ tall Lighthouse on Chantry Island Mural.

Here is a picture of the stage back wall in Southampton’s Town Hall.   I promoted about 10 concerts there.  They were fun, ranging from vaudeville to songs of wartime.  I wrote a book to go with that concert with 12 stories of wartime. 

In the process I did some murals on the stage wall. Things like Rick’s Café for a Vera Lynn Remembrance Day Concert.  Also a May West show required a café setting like her 1930 movies.  My favorite was one of the London Blitz for a Remembrance Day Concert.  She is terrified of heights, so she did not climb the ladder, but directed me from afar to emphasize this or that.  I wish we had saved that one.  She sang the Vera Lynn songs and played Mae West in another.

The Blitz turned out very well.  It had a lot of detail, with the darkness and the flash of exploding bombs. Big Ben was included too. Explosions came out of the darkness.  After the concerts were over, I just painted over the 20 foot tall images.  Doing these large murals is so much fun, but I soon found out that I ran out of welcoming walls.  It turns out that it is very easy to do large murals, but very hard to find welcoming walls.   The key is to get the vanishing points right and the fading effects of distance.  Also, an observer at long distance is good.

The mural of the Lighthouse was a case in point.   I was coached by a gifted artist Eric Luce.  He’s the only person I trust for help of advice on shapes.   Long pieces of wood were used to get the vanishing points.  It's funny.  During that process, the Art School was giving a class in the auditorium. They run all sorts of classes in the summer and they attract 100’s of people to the classes and the galleries. 

One time, I was working on the background of foliage by myself with paing clothes on for comfort..  The key there is to have the images be precise in the foreground and less so as foreground fades to background.

Sometimes it is possible to project an image on the wall and then roughly copy it, but you must get the vanishing points right otherwise no depth is seen.

The students were looking at me and even though I was quiet, I think I upset their concentration, so I left and came back later. I think I was annoying the teacher a bit.  I was using a wet sponge to get the foliage right.

Later she objected to the flight of the gulls.   I pulled out a picture and showed her that their flight came from the picture.   She also was not fond of the large log in the foreground (not seen in the above picture)  I showed her that she could 'sit' on the log by squatting and a picture would have her perfectly in the foreground sitting on the log.

 In retrospect, the students might have learned more from watching me. 

The man in the foreground is Bill Lauer a very talented person.  He sings wonderfully, but better still, he is a very gifted artist.  I was astounded by his talent, when I first was exposed to his work.

Anyway, nobody has painted over the lighthouse yet, but it will go when a Theatre Group needs the space and they don’t have a way to cover what is there.

In Southampton there are about 10 people who do these murals well.  One guy is an expert on Trompe-l'śil or fooling the eye.  He is the best.  He's done the sea background of the HMS General Hunter in the Museum.

Mike Sterling Feb 1, 2020