Palo Alto Festival of the Arts, August 2009

For our seventh year in Palo Alto, we planned to do "something simple, since we always see lots of people we know and we'd rather not be too stressed." Instead, we ended up with one of the more complicated paintings we've done to date, an imagined vista of what a bug sees when under the magnifying glass. Our subjects were our nieces Alex and Catie and an unnamed fig beetle. Fig beetles are in the scarab family and are related to June beetles. Western fig beetles appear around here at the end of August--just in time for this painting. They're big and shiny and so clumsy they're cute, especially when they run into our house trying to fly around the back yard. Other than the fig beetle and the far background photo, all photos were taken at the Elizabeth F. Gamble Garden in Palo Alto, where Cheryl volunteers every week.

Original photo of Alex and Catie looking down at The Bug
A Bug's Eye View concept

Wayne transfers a strip of the traced image to the street
Wayne transfers a strip of the traced image to the street by dusting powdered chalk through tiny holes in the paper. We "double-pounced" this painting, putting down an initial set of lines with just the main areas indicated so we could paint in the sky, then going back over the painting to transfer all the details.

Alex' face partly done
Alex' face partly done. She doesn't actually have green eyes, but in the photo they looked more green than blue.

Wayne at work on Saturday afternoon
We spent most of the first day working on the two faces, the text around the edges, and the largest of the flowers. We were aided on the calligraphy by our friend Fred and our neighbor Sean.

The painting as it looked first thing Sunday morning
Sunday morning status, before we got to work. Lots to do!

Closeup view of the center of the painting from Sunday morning
At the time we arrived, rays of sunlight were hitting the painting in a most realistic manner, so the flower looked like it really did have sunlight shining through it. Serendipity.

Wayne paints Alex' hair
Alex and Catie were not bald for long, as Wayne added their tresses first thing Sunday morning. That's Fred in the background, helping our friend Alice with her Mucha painting.

Closeup view of Alex with her hair
Closeup of Alex.

Wayne smiles for the camera
Wayne looks like he's having a good time.

Wayne and Cheryl at work on Sunday morning
Sunday morning: Wayne moves on from hair to clothing, while Cheryl specializes in coneflowers.

Cheryl smiles while painting flowers
Cheryl is having a good time painting flowers.

View of the coneflowers from the side of the painting
Coneflowers floating in air. Wayne paints Catie's grey sweater.

Wayne stretches out to paint Catie's sweater
Wayne paints Catie's sweater. She borrowed the sweater from her grandmother, so it was a little big for her--hence all the wrinkled fabric.

Fred and Wayne fix the text
Wayne accidentally smeared the text a bit, so we brought in our master calligrapher Fred to fix it up while Wayne finished up Catie's wrinkly sweater.

First coat on the fig beetle painting
Cheryl started work on the fig beetle, getting the base colors in before adding its glow and shine with highlights.

Completed fig beetle
Here's how it turned out after Cheryl and Wayne both added bright highlights.

View of the painting from the top
Here's how the painting looked from the other side of the street. Because we started with a photo taken with a fisheye lens, we didn't skew the image further, so it looked good from all vantage points.

Nolan Wayne and Cheryl lean into their work
Our nieces couldn't make it to this festival, but our nephew Nolan got to come and help Uncle Wayne work on the flowers and foliage.

Wayne works with Sean and Nolan on foliage
Sean returned to help Wayne and Nolan with the background foliage scribbles.

The completed painting
All done!

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