"Garage Door Mural." detail views

by Susan Shie Contact me

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Garage Door Mural detail view 1. ©susan Shie 2008.

Garage Door Mural detail view 2. ©susan Shie 2008.

"Garage Door Mural.” 2008  8 feet h x 18 feet w  #361  
Begun 9-28-08, fiinished 10-24-08. full view.

Materials: Valspar house paint, hand tinted with Createx liquid pigments, on wooden garage door, with paint brushes. Drawing, detail work, and writing done with my smaller, flat boar bristle brushes.

The Story: In 2008, my local artists’ support group, WAGE, chose “Personal Landscape” for the theme for our group show, which would be exhibited in early 2009. As one of the pieces, I decided I’d make the mural on our garage door fit this theme. We’d had to take down and replace our front door mural, just because of 16 Ohio winters’ wear and tear. We put it leaned up against the wall in the breezeway and put a new double door in its place. But the new door has large windows, with no room for a mural. That’s how I got the idea of making a mural on the garage door instead.

I should credit Jimmy with collaborating on this mural, since he spent big parts of a month trying to strip off the 1962 paint - dark green with white trim stripes. What happened was that all the scraping and eventual power washing led to big digs and grooves in the sturdy but old wood on the door. Jimmy then discovered Valspar, a house paint that’s both a primer and outside coating outdoor paint, which the guy at Lowe’s promised would fill in the gouges and make the mural look good. I decided to color the white Valspar with Createx liquid pigments, that I’d stored for years in my studio. It was fun to stir up a batch of a color and use it up, then create a new color to put on the mural, and I’m glad we kept the original garage door and made it work out.

I started the mural on my 58th birthday, September 28, 2008.

But first I made a Bic pen drawing in my sketchbook, and as it was for “Personal Landscape,” I wanted to include GEM - Gretchen, Eva, and Mike, our daughter and her family. They live in Lakewood, so I put them and their house on the right side of the mural, and put us and our house in Wooster on the left side. I put Lake Erie behind all of the landscape, which is very abstracted, since our house is 60 miles south of theirs and nowhere near the lake. But theirs is, and so is the Rock Hall, which Gretchen drives past each day, on her way to work at the Cleveland Museum of Art. So I added the Rock Hall.

I put in all of our cats at the time: Tulip, Marigold, and the three kittens: Otis, Ome, and Cricket. We got them all at the Humane Society here in Wooster in Feb, 2007, because GEM needed a new kitten. Cricket went to live with them on Groundhog Day, but we kept her two siblings, Otis and Ome.

The cats are climbing all over our houses and us. I made all of us pretty big. Jimmy and I are on the left, beside our house, with my mom as St Quilta the Comforter sitting down in the bottom left corner of the mural, as a Peace Buddha Girl. Jimmy and I are holding up a big pie. (My pies are symbols of gifts and blessings.) This pie is about Caring for each other. Then over by GEM’s house, Eva stands on her tiptoes, like she does when she’s excited, and she’s holding up a Pie of Joy. Gretchen holds a sprinkling can, since she loves to tend her flowers. And Mike’s playing his guitar, as that’s what he loves to do most.

I drew a big chimney coming out of our house, but then changed the chimney into the Statue of Liberty. Rising up above Jimmy and me is a giant head of Barack Obama, who was running for President at the time. On his face, I wrote “Power to the People. Heal the Earth in Unity and Kindness. Peace Now.”

The Statue of Liberty is beside Obama.

the sky behind Lake Erie is full of stars and a big yellow moon, which is the center top of the mural. On it is written: “Welcome in Peace - Turtle Moon.”

I wrote stories about all of us all over us and all over the background. And I put peace symbols wherever they would fit. I finished the mural on October 24, 2008, and Obama won the election on November 4. People asked me if I would have painted Obama out, if he’d lost the presidency. No, I’d have kept him there. He had become part of our family, part of our personal landscape.

I enjoyed how people stopped by, while I was outside painting, and told me how much they’d missed the front door mural, and how they were glad I was making a new, larger mural. I’m sure not everyone in my pretty-straight neighborhood felt that way, but enough of them did, that it really surprised me and made me feel good.

When Eva first saw the mural, she was barely four years old. We wanted to take some family pictures of us and the new mural. Eva ran up to the painted version of herself, turned with her back to it, and took up the same pose, as if the real Eva were holding up an invisible Pie of Joy! Nobody told her to do that. She just thought it up, and she know it was a really cool idea to do it!

I love this mural, and I often go out and just talk to GEM and Jimmy and Obama, and wish them all peace and a good day.

Turtle Moon Studios: Outsider Art Quilts and Paintings
Susan Shie
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