The Murals of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada: Murals
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1637 Portage Avenue    Location Map
  

The newest Manitoba Hydro Mural at Portage & St. James.


Location: NW corner Portage & St. James; East Face

Occupant: Manitoba Hydro Substation

District: St. James

Neighbourhood: Polo Park

Artist(s): Charlie Johnston (C5 Artworks), McKim Cringan George (original design)

Year: 2007

 

Charlie Johnston: "Manitoba Hydro is a Crown Corporation, so, for this Mural, they put out a tender to 4 companies, and I won the bid. The design of this Mural had been created by their advertising agency, McKim Cringan George. I've been painting large scale for 20 years. On one level it was just another day at the office for me. On another level it was a long term goal to finally get to paint one of the biggest and best known projects- the Hydro Mural at Portage and St. James. Before Murals had become popularized in Winnipeg there had already been different incarnations at this wall. Everyone remembers the Baby- it was a big iconic image (Ed note- see 1637 Portage (1) in the RIP section)."

"After I received the design, I started prepping the wall as soon as the season began. I had the building base-coated blue and I received notice that I had to stop due to the provincial election campaign. Because Hydro is a crown corporation they couldn't be perceived as doing any advertising during the campaign. And this IS an ad Mural. The wall was basically in very good shape- there were just a few minor repairs, surface cracks, that had to be done."

"The whole project went off like a charm. The weather was very good. I had to leave it once to go to Huntsville, Ontario to do a project there. I finished it July 1st. There was a lot of stuff that was alluded to in the design that I tried to bring it out more in the rendering (Ed note- for example the reflection of the clouds in the lake) to try to achieve what I felt is the maximum potential of the image as a design. That's where my input came in and that's where I put myself into the large-scale painting. It was up to me as to how the image was done, and I was to create an honest and accurate photo-realistic rendering of the design. Quite frankly, I think they expected that this would be an airbrush Mural, because the previous few jobs had been done with it. I chose not to use airbrush for over 99% of this wall. This worked out well, as there was some concern expressed about overspray. They didn't want overspray of any of the electrical, on their vehicles. They had a fleet of white vans and they didn't want any spray on them. I only used airbrush for the final effect of the out-of-focus blades of grass in the foreground (this was at the end after the restriction had been lifted), and that's it! The rest is all brushwork and rollers, and the blending techniques I've learned over the years."

"My goal was to make it feel like a painting and not an ad so that it feels like a piece of artwork. The only thing I added in the design is a little grasshopper in the grass. Everything else came from the designs given to me by McKim Cringan George. It was a great Mural for me- I love painting clouds. If I had the time and materials, I'd probably be doing large-scale paintings of clouds anyways! It was a lot of fun."