'Last month I was back in London to paint at the Cass Art flagship store in Islington. Downstairs is the Cass Art Space and I was painting on the glass wall of this gallery.
Being in a shop meant that I was working INDOORS, and let me tell you, the novelty and luxury of that has still not worn thin. There was fresh water ON TAP, a clean toilet available to use anytime, heating, a roof, a sense of security for both body and belongings and some fancy little extras like a table to put my materials on and a kettle. Occasionally I’d take a 5 minute break to have a sit down (on a chair!) and the sum of all of the above made for the least exhausting mural to date. I pray for more indoor commissions in the future. Occasionally I’d take a 5 minute break to have a sit down (on a chair!) and the sum of all of the above made for the least exhausting mural to date. I pray for more indoor commissions in the future. Of course some problems still occurred, but I was able to assess them with a cup of tea and less rain threatened despair. The main learning was that despite tempered glass appearing to be entirely clear, it often actually contains a tint or coating and so colours looked drastically different on the one side of the glass to the other. The reverse looked bright and vibrant, but when viewed from the front the colours were dull and muted.'
Hi Naomi, thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us. Firstly, could you tell us about Survival Techniques?
Survival Techniques is a street art project that aims to promote hope and optimism and bring a little light to someone having a dark day.
The project began as a list I made for myself to remind me what to do when feeling really low; things that always made me feel a bit better. After telling my first friend about my list and finding she really identified with it, I decided to collect coping strategies from friends & family. The words and experiences they sent me became the inspiration for many artworks, and collecting Survival Techniques from people is still an integral part of the project that ensures the paintings speak for and to a wide range of people.
As an ultimately democratic space, the street was chosen as the primary place to share the artwork, aiming to reach and connect together as many people as possible.
How did you find using the new System3 fluid acrylic for the mural? The System 3 Fluids were ideal for painting onto glass. The viscosity meant that I could get good coverage on the glass (an otherwise very slippy surface that can be tricky to get enough paint onto without multiple coats) and because they are more fluid than usual acrylic, it was really easy to mix my own colours. I was really pleased with the opacity and coverage, and used way less paint that I’d anticipated.
Could you talk us through how you approach a mural such as the amazing piece in our Islington store?
My first step is always to visit the site and get a feel for the space to be painted and the area around it. I’ll take lots of photo and measurements. I can then create a phrase that I feel matches the place and then a full design with colours that also fit those words and the environment. I’ll create a scale drawing of the artwork so that I can transpose it onto the space to be painted and calculate how much paint I need (always adding a bit extra for contingency). I try to be as prepared as possible, as often I have limited time at a site, and so having to correct mistakes in the design or travel to buy extra materials would take up time that I don’t have.
Thanks so much for taking the time to speak to us Naomi.