The Making of a Mural: Swallow-tailed kite Wings

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Well, here we are! The end of a chapter. This morning was bittersweet as I unveiled the last installment in the Wing Of The West Series. The 6th and final set of wings reside at Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge in DeLeon Springs. This location was the perfect setting to wrap up the series. I have always LOVED taking walks with my best friends on the refuge. One of my first dates with my now husband was a cool winter walk around the preserve. Needless to say, Lake Woodruff holds a special place in my heart. The idea of my artwork living in such a special place is pretty unbelievable. 

Candice Stevenson, the manager at the refuge, contacted West Volusia Tourism after seeing some of the other wings I had created and asked to be considered as a location. Georgia Turner and I were thrilled at the opportunity and felt it was a great fit for us. We scheduled a meeting with Candice and got a VIP tour around the refuge in one of the few vehicles allowed on the property. We all agreed the two giant oak trees would make the perfect shaded canopy to house the wings. If you’ve ever been out there, you know they provide the only bit of shade on the loop. We stood in the future location of the wings and knew it was the perfect fit. The backdrop could not be more picturesque!

The construction of these wings was much like the last two sets. I drew each wing on a large piece of marine-grade plywood and my dad cut them out with a jigsaw. Next, sanding and priming to prep the surface for paint. (My dad also helped a lot with this since I am 6 months pregnant). I laid down a base coat of gradation from white to black and then had fun adding the detail. Believe it or not, the cheap little chip brushes gave me the texture and stroke I was looking for. They perfectly feathered the white into the deep gray just how I was hoping.

As with the rest of the wings, it was very important to me that the wings blend into their new environment seamlessly. Volunteers at Lake Woodruff installed four posts in the ground to anchor the wings.

My dad and I brought the wings in the back of his truck, along with some tools for mounting and a basket of touch up paint on the day of installation. Many hands made light work and we hung them in no time. We couldn’t have asked for better weather. It was perfectly cool and the trees protected us from the glare of the sun. A little bit of time spent touching up spots from transportation and they were ready for the big reveal! We, of course, had to stop at Danny’s Ice Cream on the way home. It felt like the perfect way to celebrate.

And so, the Wings of the West series is complete! I am thrilled to see it all come together and to now promote the Wing Trail. It is our hope that people will tour around our awesome county and collect photos with the wings along the way. Creating this series has truly been a dream come true. I am so grateful to Georgia Turner of West Volusia Tourism and Michael Benedict of Benedict Advertising for dreaming up this series and allowing me to create it.

Life is sweet.

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