Friday, October 23, 2015

Recalcitrant Mucha (Part 4)

Picking up where we left off last week, the Sarah Bernhardt poster was through prep and headed to our restoration artists. I must admit that while I take hundreds of photos for most of the blog posts, the guys in the back are often hard to capture at work because they are a little camera shy. I usually have to sneak up on them from behind. (Ok, maybe I also like sneaking up on them and getting candid photos.)

Gabe, Aaron, Ravi and Pete all worked on this poster. Gabe began by sketching in the general areas of large patterns and noting color blocks that we would need to airbrush in.


Once he had a general idea of what needed to be done, Pete took over to mask for airbrushing. Airbrushing is generally how we cover large areas of paper evenly with color. This can mean applying uniform layers of one color, or layering multiple colors on top of each other to achieve a look similar to that of most printing processes.

Masking covers certain areas of a poster or print with paper, tape or acetate and leaves other areas open so that we can paint them without worrying about getting paint on the rest of the image. Masking takes a delicate touch, patience and a good eye in order to cut through tape and acetate without damaging the paper underneath.   


The background for the "American Tour" banner at the bottom of the poster was the first part  airbrushed, but I believe there were about 10 different rounds of masking and airbrushing on this poster.


Here Pete is putting his graphic design and artistic skills to use while comparing font and lettering.



Below are two of the best shots of one of the masks. Both photos give you a good idea of what a mask actually is. The majority of the poster is covered in a brown craft paper, then a low tack tape is used to cover the area closest to what is being airbrushed.





Aaron did most of the airbrushing on this piece, but Gabe got in on some of the action too.  The most difficult part to airbrush on this particular piece was the background, simply because it was big and because we were not only trying to match color but also the aged patine that the poster had acquired over time. 


Something that people don't often think about is how much lighting affects how we see color, but the next few photos taken while Aaron and Gabe were working on the background show how different the background looks from shot to shot.



In fact the background color was so difficult that Gabe asked John and Ravi to come give him a second opinion.

I loved this photo because Ravi turned just as I was snapping it.

One of the most dramatic parts as you're working on restoring a print, particularly of this size is seeing the reveal after another layer of paint has been added on. (At some point we'll do a series of photos that show just that transition, but Gabe and I are waiting for just the right project.)

Aaron removing one of the masks to show how much has been done and just how much is lefty to complete!

The background was the largest area that we had to airbrush, but other areas like those seen in the photo above were blocked in using airbrushing. The final touches, done by hand using colored pencils and water colors, are still to come! 


Next week will be the final blog post on this Sarah Bernhardt poster! All that's left are the details that we put in by hand, so check back soon for that update!


Certain proprietary steps and procedures have been omitted. If you have any comments or ideas for things you would like to see us cover on our blog, please let us know! If you have further questions regarding other work or your pieces please contact us via email at postermount@aol.com or by phone at 818.882.1214. Also check out our websites: http://www.postermountain.com and http://www.lapapergroup.com/. Please feel free to leave comments or questions on the blog! Also for daily photos and updates check out Poster Mountain's Twitter and Instagram: please follow us @postermount on Twitter and postermountain on Instagram. Our subsidiary company, Los Angeles Paper Group will be showcasing the fine art side of the company: @LAPaperGroup on Twitter and LAPaperGroup on Instagram.




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