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Mural Mania 2

Manjula Padmanabhan | Updated on May 30, 2021

ILLUSTRATION: MANJULA PADMANABHAN

The difficulty with Ted The Handsome Landlord has been resolved! One of the gallery’s members generously offers us the use of her airy, well-lit studio while she’s away. Another member, Lily, clears enough space in the studio to accommodate the eight foot panels. Emma and I move our gear in, then rush off to Home Depot, to buy the paint.

We had both figured out what colours we wanted in our murals, to add to the small selection of existing hues that other members of the mural committee had pooled together. I want turquoise green and medium pink. Emma wants two shades of blue — one purple-ish, the other closer to cerulean — plus yellow. At our first Mural Committee meeting we’d decided that the correct paint to use is the same as interior wall paint, covered with a protective transparent varnish for outdoor use.

So we go into Home Depot, which to my eyes always seems more like an airplane hangar than a shop. It’s famous for selling all manner of hardware, gadgets and appliances intended for use in and on and around buildings. The shelves soar way up towards the heavens and extend for what seems like miles of shop floor. The employees are more-than-usual tall and large-boned, looking perpetually worried, in case someone asks them for the one item of merchandise that’s out of stock.

We go to the vast paint section. There’s a wall of shade cards from which Emma and I both make our selections. I’ve been puzzling over how it’s possible to stock such an immense variety of shades. Surely there can’t be enough physical tins of paint to satisfy the demands of all the possible customers who enter within these doors? I had no idea that wall paint isn’t created like artists’ paints, in tubes and cakes!

We take our selected shades over to the friendly older man at the paint-station and tell him that we want pint-tins of each colour. He enters the colour-coordinates into a machine that produces the exact combination of dyes which, when mixed into a base, produces our desired blues, pink and yellow. Emma laughs to see my enthralled expression, as I watch the various stages of creation. It ends with a single dab of paint, applied by finger, to the label on top of the tin.

As we proceed to payment, Emma has an idea: Why not ask if Home Depot has any discount schemes for artists? Sure enough, they DO! A very charming young manager with long purple hair smilingly offers us a one-time $50 coupon. We accept it on behalf of our gallery and take down details for applying for a further small grant. The mural project is public art after all and we fully expect that it will add value to the whole neighbourhood. By the time we walk out, Emma and I are grinning like a pair of Cheshire Cats. Next stop: Finishing the mural! Stay tuned...

Manjula Padmanabhan, author and artist, writes of her life in the fictional town of Elsewhere, US, in this weekly column

Published on May 30, 2021

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