Air and Sky: Painting the Top Room
Design: Initially, there was no plan to paint the top room, nor even plaster it. In 2019 we had pointed and limewashed the walls, and thought that leaving the stones showing would be a good contrast. There was very little plaster left on the walls unlike the lower rooms. But we continued to see water come through the walls, even after the roof was on, and the outside was pointed. So we decided to plaster the walls. And then paint the room - who can stay with plain white walls when there are so many color options?! But after the eleborate design and work of the lower two rooms, we wanted an airier feel. The large triangular modern windows let so much light in, we wanted to leverage that in the room of air and sky. So the gathering and planning of images was much more free-form. Several larger mythical creatures were planned, but also smaller natural ones, like birds, butterflies, dragonflies and bees. We wanted to use a blue background, and Veda advised grading the color from deepest at the top, to lightest at the bottom near the floor. Under the arches and on top by the watchtower we use the pure blue, ultramarine - the rest were done in three bands of mixed blue/white and blended slightly. Liz also wanted to use up as much of the existing paint as possible - the Beeck mineral paints lasted for 2 years with a little remixing and water added!
Installation: In September 2023, Veda and Robert returned. We had thoughts of doing the rooom, but Veda also wanted to paint the Phoenix in the Big House so we had limited time. Since this room was very freeform, we didn't measure, and made no digital mockups. We selected the best of the images for mythical creatures and simply projected them on the wall, some without sketches, judging the right size for the spaces. These were traced with grease pencil by Veda, and then Liz was tasked with filling in the basic colors. Once the big creatures were in place, we randomly added clouds, with some pinkish ones near the moon area reflecting dusk and sunset. Veda did all the detail on creatures, while Liz enjoyed painting the Seraphim, except for the face. Finally, the smaller birds, butterflies, dragonflies and bees were scattered about - all based in nature from either medieval manuscripts or photographs of local species. This room went really fast - in two weeks we had completed it. This room is really a transitional space between the tower and outside, but also between old and new with the large glass windows. So we felt it was appropriate to have a more whimsical, less structured look to the painting. It was really neat to see real butterflies, of the same variety we were painting, settle on the blue walls, and also see the same blue through the glass of the sky!