Monday, February 7, 2022

Bleeding Hearts Brick Wall Mural

Artists ages 9-11

The moment I discovered London-born street artist, James Goldcrown, I knew instantly that this was the direction I wanted to take my 9-11 year old age group for their Valentine's themed project.  So much so, that I instantly scrapped all my other ideas and designed and executed this "Valentine's Bleeding Hearts Brick Wall Mural" project all in one quick afternoon. It turned out even better than I had expected - thanks to both good and bad paint markers, as I'll explain below.

Artist James Goldcrown

James is a self-taught artist, photographer and street artist from London who lives between New York and LA. In February 2015 he was commissioned to paint a mural on a famous New York City wall. Undecided on what to paint, he heeded his friends' suggestion that he paint hearts, seeing as it was close to Valentine's Day. He liked the simple, easy-to-do shape of the heart, and usually draws this shape when testing the pressure of his paint cans. Three days later, This motif went viral on instagram and jump started his career. One mural, many hearts, also knows as 'bleeding hearts' is his most iconic mural. 

Step 1: Border
Tape down the borders of an A3 acrylic or watercolor paper for a clean border. 

Step 2: Background Underpainting
Decide on a color for the 'cement' between the bricks, and paint the whole background. Students were given black and white acrylic paint, and they chose what tone of grey they wanted.

'Cement' color underpainting

Step 3: Stencil
Students used a brick stencil with a foam roller in a different tone than their cement background. Students with darker cement painted their bricks lighter grey or white; those with lighter cement painted their bricks darker grey or black.

Painting the underpainting

Stencil with foam roller
Brick stencil

Step 4: Drawing Hearts
Using Posca pens, students drew same-sized hearts around their paper. Students used one pen in one color at a time, drawing 5-6 hearts, then switched to another color and repeated, making sure to place each color throughout their paper for good balance. Once all colors were used, they repeated all colors, this time overlapping their hearts for a dense and exciting composition full of depth and movement.

Step 5: Paint Drips
I have a small, prized collection of Posca pens which never fail to impress. They are bright, opaque and have a perfect paint flow. Then I have several varieties of cheaper brands, all of which are terrible in different ways. Some dry up after the first use, others are too transparent, others have tips that are stuck in the shaft, others have an insanely uncontrolled paint flow which leaves pools of paint when we draw.... gah! This last variety, however, was just want we needed for this project: These drippy paint pens were used to draw a few choice hearts - then, the inevitable pool of paint that collects at the pointy base of our heart would drip down our paper when we simple knocked out paper upright against the table.  We did this a few times in different colors and created a believable drippy spray paint look.

Balance of colors

Building up layers of hearts
Layers of hearts, some 'bleeding'

Step 6: Word on Wall
The final step is to decide which word we want to 'tag' on our wall. Anything goes, but short is best, and it must have a connection to the hearts - to stay on theme. We used a medium round brush and acrylic paint for this step, and added a little more pop and emphasis to our word by tracing along the inside of it with a paint pen in a similar color.

Step. 7: Border
Students carefully peeled off the taped border. I encourage them to pull the tape away from their art at an angle, which helps prevent the tape from tearing into their art. The crisp border never fails to wow, and really adds that finishing touch. Students signed their names with a thin fine-liner.