Lucie Shearer talks about preparing for this year's Urban Scrawl, the artist's fifth year participating in the mural-making, live-painting festival
Prioritization and hydration. Urban Scrawl vet Lucie Shearer says these are the keys to a successful weekend of live painting murals in late August in Franklinton.
Urban Scrawl 11, set for Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 26 and 27 outside of 400 West Rich, will be Shearer's fifth. Her first Scrawl was done, in part, because she felt like a noob on the Columbus art scene, and the event provided the opportunity to engage not only with other artists as they were working but also in an event that was unique to the community.
“When I did it for the first time, I did it by myself, and I did one of the 4-foot-by-8-foot boards,” Shearer said in an interview at her Blockfort studio, where she works at painting, illustration and graphic design. “I liked it so much that the next year I did a collaboration on one of the larger [8-foot-by-8-foot] boards.”
In the years since, Shearer has done both solo and collaborative murals for the event, a two-day festival highlighted by a slate of Columbus' dopest artists painting murals that serve the Franklinton community in one of two ways. Many are put up for auction at the annual Art for Franklinton event, which raises funds to support the Franklinton Arts District's George Bellows Grant Program. Murals not included in the auction are weather-sealed and placed on display throughout the community.
“People come to the festival to see amazing local artists at work, and to celebrate with great food, drinks and music,” said FAD secretary and first-year Urban Scrawl chair Ashley Baker. “But the mission is what makes it really special. The artists spend their weekend creating a piece that directly benefits the Franklinton community.”
“There's nothing else like it,” Shearer said. “It's all about live painting. My first year, I didn't know anything. But it's so addictive. I look forward to it every year, and when it's over it's always a little bit sad.”
A week ahead of this year's event, Shearer, who's “flying solo” this year, hadn't settled on a plan for her mural. (As it happens, though, her work for Urban Scrawl was already underway, having created the official poster for this year's event.) She expects to have at least a sketched-out concept before she heads over to begin painting.
“I go in with an idea and maybe a pencil sketch and maybe some paint with me, to find out what colors I want … [and] then it's a little more intuitive in the moment when I get there,” Shearer said. “You never know what's going to happen. Sometimes you end up in conversation with people that takes a while, or you run into a couple friends, or you have a couple beers, or it rains… .
“I try to get there early and start drawing out my concept because I like to draw it out first and then paint it, but that first part is so nerve-wracking. You can't spend too much time on drawing because then you won't have time to do the color and it's going to get hot around 2 [p.m.] and the paint dries so fast in the heat. It dries as you're brushing it on. I try and lay out big areas of color, then work out areas of detail. I have a tendency to focus on details throughout a whole painting in my personal work, but in Urban Scrawl you have to learn where it's OK to let go of some of the detail.”
“The best part of having some artists come back year after year is seeing how their creative perspectives evolve and their skill levels improve over time,” FAD president Adam Herman said. “It is also a great opportunity to see artists use the event as a way to experiment with a new style or technique in a collaborative environment with their peers. The ability to receive real-time feedback from both audience members and fellow artists is what makes Urban Scrawl so unique.”
“Standing there with a beer and talking to people about what you're working on is fantastic. Many people are too shy to ask, but at Urban Scrawl that's the whole point,” Shearer said. “You can guarantee the artists love what they're doing and are happy to talk about it.”
If the creative part of Urban Scrawl isn't enough proof the artists love the event, then consider two afternoons of painting in the August heat.
“It's so physically demanding but it's so much fun,” Shearer said. “You're wiping off your sweat, you're burned. And think about reaching the top of an eight-foot panel. You'll probably need a ladder, or at least a stool. You're on your feet all day, and you're in the heat [so you need to] make sure you're drinking enough water and wearing sunscreen.”
In the end, each artist has created something essentially from scratch over just two days of painting. Shearer loves when Saturday visitors come back on Sunday (admission to Urban Scrawl is free) to see the progress the artists are making.
“One of the things about being an image maker is that you're a problem solver. … The whole process is this constant puzzle. You keep making problems for yourself to solve,” Shearer said. “When you get to the end, there's a satisfaction or sense of accomplishment. And at the end of Sunday, you all end up standing around having the last few beers and hanging out.”