Mural Work in Kosovo

As mentioned before in my post on Workaway, I spent six weeks volunteering at a hostel in Kosovo. I’ll post more on the actual city on a later date, but I want to dedicate this post to one of my tasks while I was there – painting a mural on the outdoor bar.

Buffalo Backpackers, is a hostel run by a Texan and an Albanian. The two, Chelsea and Xili, have a network of friends in the area and encourage immersion into the unique culture of Pristina, Kosovo — a city primarily composed of young adults. They also encourage artists to come to their hostel and paint murals on empty walls, or in this case, empty bars.

I was painting a structure that is in the back garden – a fun, bohemian area with a fire pit and many hammocks. The bar originally looked like this:

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It was built by a previous volunteer and was a really fun little structure, but obviously lacked aesthetic appeal. After looking at the structure I started out with some simple sketches:

I showed these to Chelsea and we fleshed out the idea to a full-blown plan. Luckily, her and I shared a similar penchant for bohemian cowgirl artwork.

The extent of my experience with acrylics was primarily bound to sets I had painted in high school under the supervision of a professional artist, Alisa Lincoln, so I did some research before putting brush to wall. After much googling and even more sanding on the part of myself and other hostel volunteers, I dove in.

Armed with a spray bottle, a brush, a washcloth and some sweatpants, I started in on the sky:

In this picture I blocked out where my cowgirl, stars, cacti, and moon will be. It was an incredibly fun and fast-paced part of the painting because, between the heat and the fast-drying properties of the acrylic paint, I had to move fast to get the look I wanted.

Next, I filled in the cacti with a very dark green and blended the stars to give them a more dreamy, hazy look.

Then came more googling. Because of our limited budget, the majority of paints I had were primary colors, so I had to mix everything. This provided some trouble when I wanted to do skin tones. After some research, I was able to get a believable light skin color:

img_4147

(as you can see, I snapped this one)

This also involved a lot of quick work, as to achieve the proper texture I needed to blend the paint while wet. My spray bottle was a lifesaver here.

After finishing her face, I filled in her hat and her shirt, and did a bit more detailing on her eye to really draw attention to it. Then came the most lengthy process: the hair.

I wanted to do the hair in rainbow colors to add a lot of color and pop to this corner of the garden. As mentioned before, though, I was mixing almost everything from primary colors. I really wanted a large variety of shades and hues, but this is sometimes difficult to achieve with a limited amount of mixable paint tubes. After many episodes of Gilmore Girls (listened to the show on my phone while I worked), I finally finished the hair:

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I was almost done. I added gold and silver to the stars, painted the moon, and did some details on the front of the bar. I spent another couple hours putting mandala-style artwork on the top of the bar:

And then I was done!

cowgirl-1

If you’re looking to do some acrylic painting yourself, here are some websites that helped me:

https://www.art-is-fun.com/mixing-colors

http://painting.about.com/od/paintingforbeginners/fl/Top-Acrylic-Painting-Tips-for-Beginners.htm

Links to info on Alisa Lincoln:

www.wildpoppystudios.com

www.facebook.com/alisa.lincoln.art

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