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Painting The Caravan

This week has seen a dramatic start to the painting of the caravan. The initial designs for the paintwork were based on images I had taken over the years of various fairground rides. Looking at my early sketches they seemed too fussy and overly complex. When I spread them out on the floor and stood back, the design was lost in a whirl of flourishes and twirls. Thinking that they needed to read from a distance, I took a thick felt pen and just outlined the main shapes, adding here and there. The rest was stripped away and discarded. I knew that these basic designs were going to be placed in the hands of a master scenic artist so there would be a degree of surface decoration added anyway.

This was given to Luca Crest who took it away and worked up some paint samples. They were far beyond my expectations. All the reference images from mid century artists and illustrators that I had given him, had been distilled into a series a beautiful samples which retained the printed feel of the original reference.

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With my pencil sketches transferred to clear acetate, we used an over-head projector to cast them onto the side of the caravan and then followed the lines in pencil. Next Luca and the painter Anna Claxton, began to paint in the outlines. The designs for the ends of the caravan were created by taping a piece of brown paper to the area. (1) The design was drawn by hand and went over with a felt tip. Taking a scalpel, the design was carefully cut out. (2) Then outlined in pencil. (4)

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After that the line is strengthened using a brown felt tip and a broken line. (5-6)

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Once that was done the line was filled in with brown paint. (7) On Friday we were lucky to be joined by another talented painter, Angela Inman, who added her skill to the outlining work. Image 8 shows the sample against the faint outline to give an idea of the finished effect. The process is painstaking to say the least but the only way to build up layers and give it the richness and depth that's needed.

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As week 1 draws to a close, there is a clear impression of what the final design will look like. As well as the exterior being started, the carpenter Peter Hanson has made a start on the interior but that's another entry. My heartfelt thanks go to all the team who have worked so hard this week.

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