Wednesday, January 4, 2012

An upcoming bus mural

I have been sketching out some ideas for Edwin in Tennessee. The plan is to head down for the beginning of February and spend 5-10 days working on his 84 VW Westfalia "Hannah." Luckily, I have a benevolent friend in TN who has a fantastic heated work shop and painting booth that he has opened up for my use! THANKS BOYD!


The holidays kept me overly busy, so I didn't get to formally start on the concept art for Edwin's bus until this week (big holiday post forthcoming.) But I do have something to share now, so here are some words on that.

"Hannah" the bus is scheduled to go on a long distance trip around the country in a couple of months time. So in this light, I wanted to incorporate some elements of the west into my design. From my perspective, nothing says the American west like big scenery and big mountains. I know I don't feel right when I go too long without mountains. ( I type from coastal Massachusetts... sigh*) But Edwin won't have to worry about that when he is in the heartland... he can just look to his mural!
I can also see pulling out the horizon a bit to a desert landscape, but I will see what Ed thinks about that first.

(click images for full size)

Another aspect I wanted to illustrate in this mural is Edwin's love of camping and music. At the BOtheR campout(and many others like it), there is an unseen music switch that gets flicked once the sun goes down. Everyone that has an instrument pulls it out and starts playing. Edwin was most notable at BOtheR with his ukulele and lighthearted (and frequently adult oriented) lyrics! So, pending his approval, I have included him playing and singing along with some other musicians. That scene is completed by a couple vw's around a camp fire all under a starry night sky. Having Hannah in this scene will allow me to do the frequently requested mural in a mural in a mural. I did this on Jamie's pop-top and was toying with the idea on Snoopy's bus, but ran out of time.

Edwin wants me to paint his bus in a color scheme that compliments his curtains. As coloring takes a fair amount of time, I figure the best way to approach this will be to land on a design that works first, and then do color studies once that is settled upon. However, to give you a point of reference, here is a picture of his curtains:

This gives me a lot of color to work with and as I just need the colors to function together and not match perfectly, I think an almost unlimited organic palette will be perfect for this bus.

The areas outside of the mural will be the Almond color that is currently on the wheels and plastic parts. If I can swing it, I will see if I can get that outside area in a satin finish. I think that would contribute to that vintage feel and set off the glossy mural like nobody's business! Though I am not sure if the almond color plastic will be retained when I get through with it, rest assured Edwin that your desired "unique bus" status will be retained 110%! ;)

Because of the complex angular body lines of a vanagon, I find a lot of vanagon mural painting satisfaction in the panel layout scheme. Both of Aswah's murals were done in a panel layout as well as my Alice bus mural, and I couldn't be happier with how they work. This technique allows me to avoid brush painting on the really time consuming areas... (like the gutters, pop top, and nose) and focus on detail in the focused mural area. In Aswah's most recent mural, I bordered the panel with organic black line work. I think I will do a similar thing on Edwin's mural, taking into account the slightly different bumper design of the earlier model.

Organic black line work:

The back of Aswah's bus also had a Jimi Hendrix quote. I think a quote panel would be appropriate on Hannah but I still need to talk to Edwin about that. A song lyric, favorite personal mantra or book quote would work great. On my bus, I am planning on using the John Muir quote:
"The mountains are calling and I must go."

Maybe something similar would be appropriate here.

So obviously, there is still a lot of work to be done here, but hopefully by the middle of next week we will have this design pretty well sorted out and ready to go! In the meantime, I will be bringing a jar of enamel paint down to CT with me to paint a small little something on my bus, so I can retain it's #9 status. Edwin's bus will be mural #10 and I can use all my Magic Hat #9 Paraphernalia to decorate my bus over the summer;)

My dream shifter, lol!


  1. love the music drawings - you are one talented man - hopefully my LUCY will be your canvas one day!

  2. Was led here after a Google search for Vanagon Curtains. Really nice work!
    Damon in Ventura, CA

  3. thanks! i have been neglecting this blog pretty badly recently, its good to see that it is getting some pretty solid traffic! :)