When I received the first inquiry about painting a mural at the soon to be opened Seaquest at the Trumbull Shopping Park, I must admit, I was intrigued. For two reasons: The size (the wall measured just under 200 feet in length and was 15 tall) and the location (a chance to work in my hometown of Trumbull).
I took a ride to see it, and literally, driving into the parking lot with the wall looming in front of me, my heart just got stuck.
Was I crazy for even considering this? “Oh no, not you” hollered that distinctly crazy side of my brain. “You’re not afraid of anything”.
I walked up to touch possibly the worst surface I’d ever been asked to paint.
“Be afraid.” Said that grounded, sane part of my brain. “Be very afraid and walk away.”
I considered that option for a few moments and then crazy kicked in. “I can do this.” I resolved, but not alone.
I turned to fellow Trumbull resident Dino Tetu, owner of Paint Smart, a full- service painting company. (learn more about Dino at www.Paintsmartnow.com). We have worked together over the past two decades. We’ve recommended each other and worked projects together. I knew I could rely on Dino 100% to provide the experience of proper prep and material and to get his part done.
My part would be transferring the provided design of huge, intersecting waves to the wall in grid fashion. Here’s a shot of the paper work, marking the co-ordinates every twelve inches to cover this massive wall.
Afterwards, I would paint 3″ wide stripes of each color on the perimeter of each section. When that was completed, Dino would paint in the large fields I had created. After that, I’d finish with ten stingray silhouettes.
So we had a plan. First Dino would power wash the wall and give the surface a solid basecoat.
Basecoat done, I started gridding the design. There were moments when I would face this wall and think it must have grown at night. No matter how much progress I thought I’d made in a day, the next day I would face this wall and think I’ve not made a dent in this work.
The hard hat is quite the fashion statement.
And somehow, the grid was painted in and it was time to start painting in color. I experimented with many types of brushes, looking for the best choice to create a straight line where the colors intersected on this ridiculously pitted block wall. Take a look at this up close
and here’s a shot of me at the wall.
Dino and company filled in my colored outlines and I completed the stingray silhouettes. Our accuweather app had gotten its workout, navigating our schedule around one of the rainiest springs ever.
Just as we were finishing up, a change came in to now paint the eight vent windows to make them less obvious. Surely my patience had been tested enough? No? Then bring it on. Louver by louver, the vents disappeared. Here’s a closeup and then a larger shot to show how they became seamless within the design.
The signs are up
and we congratulated each other for a job well done.
A parting anecdote. I can’t wait for Seaquest to open. By the time your reading this, that day has either come, or it’s very close. Much more than an aquarium, it’s described as an interactive animal experience. I can’t wait to bring my granddaughters to play with the otters, feed the birds in the aviary and see the stingrays (they are too young to snorkel with them, but we will!).
I stopped by to see the interior progress. The workmanship and artistry is simply stunning. The young lady walking through with me mentioned there would be a mermaid in the stingray pool. Having seen the wondrously real props, I wondered would she be a very authentic looking prop or might they employ a human being to dress up and swim with the stingrays. “A real mermaid?” I wondered aloud, thinking what a fun job that would be. She looked at me, completely serious, and reminded me “Mermaids aren’t real.”
Aren’t they though? This place is magic.
The Seaquest mural was a personal quest for me, epic in size and challenging in the endurance to complete it. I cannot take any credit for the artistic aspect of the design, but I know the ability to tackle and master this project was a culmination of years of experience as a sign painter and artist. When I drive in and the wall looms in front of me, I wonder what I was so nervous about in the beginning. Dino was right. We did have fun on this one.