MY FIRST ATTEMPT AT SIGN PAINTING

Lately I have been completely obsessed with the traditional art of sign painting. I am actually quite surprised that it has taken me this long to realise that this is something I would consider more than just a hobby. 

I have always loved the shape of letters, and the way in which they are formed. I would always trace over letters in my head with an imaginary paintbrush when I saw the shape of a letter that I liked. And I loved to trace and draw big letters even back in School. Doing more research into sign painting has given me more understanding into how we shape letters and the types of brushes that are used to create them . I really love the style of one stroke, being able to create a word so effortlessly is something that is really cool. If I were to draw the same shape letter in Illustrator it would take me forever!

After seeing all the submissions from Project Loop I thought creating a sign on a skateboard would be really cool. I also wanted the word I used to reflect the lifestyle of skateboarding and not just be a random word - there had to be an idea and it had to make sense. I used the word Tubular to illustrate this and it also had a good amount of letters in to fill the board width ways.

I used 1 shot enamel that I bought from Handover as this is what I have seen most professionals use. To my surprise it was reasonably priced and the colours were beautiful. For the colour palette I wanted it to reflect California in the 60's, again to run with my idea of the skateboard. The pastel colours did this really well I think. With the rough idea in my head and sketched on paper it was only up to me to make sure it came out how I wanted it to.

Using masking tape I began to mark out the areas I wanted coloured for each section. I also made sure to tape the reverse over the edge so the paint ran all the way around the edge - I thought this would look much better when I hung it on the wall when I was finished. 

I didn't stick to my sketch exactly, I just used my instinct and tried not to worry too much about the widths being perfect  - I was wanting the hand painted element to shine through over the design. 

The aqua colour was my favourite - it is beautiful! and when placed next to all of the other colours it just really shone. Using the paints was really easy, I had read that some people prefer to thin them down but I wanted them to be quite thick - for the background anyway.

I painted one section at a time to avoid cleaning my brushes so much - it is quite a military operation to keep them clean and looked after. I only had a small amount of white spirit also. 

I had added gold strips in-between some of the colours  - this looked a lot better in my head then it did in practice. The gold was a different type of paint and I didn't think it would matter too much. But next to the 1 shot enamel you could really tell. This wasn't a major issue as the strips were so thin, but next time I will be sure to use the same types of paint on one artwork.

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Once it had dried I peeled off the masking tape - I could tell it was coming together how I imagined it! Some of the gold paint had escaped under the masking tape, but this was OK as I was going to fill in some of the wood to make the colours sit next to each other. I also wanted to leave a couple of sections of wood un-painted as I thought this would look nice.

The paint was done and dry! Even without the lettering I was pleased with how it looked. There were a couple of smudges here and there but I didn't mind too much. Next I needed to cut out the letters I wanted - I chose to use a typeface that I liked for this first try, this whole exercise was intended for me to practice with the brushes and paints so I wasn't going to give myself too much of a hard time with free-handing the letters onto the board.

Tracing the letters onto the board was a lot harder then I had thought! It took a real steady hand and I realised about half way through that there must be an easier way to do this. I am still struggling to find how professional sign painters transfer their design - I'll just have to keep looking or try my luck sending some emails out to them.

With a couple of coats of white paint I was finished! I was so pleased with the result and thought the colours and lettering really suited the idea I was going for. 

I hung the board up in my little studio, I will change the string to fishing wire to make it look neater.

 I think I need to take a step backwards and focus more on nailing the lettering as opposed to creating a big piece that looks cool on the wall. I want to get a good grip on the skill and craft of painting letters. The designs will hopefully come after!

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