A Grand Island woman hopes to give an old garage wall new life by painting a mural on it.
Jeanne Allen currently is painting a large mural on the side of a garage next to the alley north and east of the intersection of Broadwell Avenue and Division Street. The garage is outside the home of Bobbie Gonzales.
The mural, which is 13 feet high and 18 feet wide, features a tree in the middle surround by two circles and flowers on a painted blue background.
Gonzales said the 100-year-old garage wall was “ugly” and was on the side of a garage that had previously burned down. She said her neighbors initially planned to tear their side of the garage down, but never did, so she recruited Allen to paint the wall.
“Originally, I just wanted the wall painted,” Gonzales said. “She (Allen) said, ‘Well, what would you want?’ I said, ‘I don’t care, you just go for it. This is your baby, so you do whatever.’”
“Bobbie said, ‘I have something I want you to paint: my wall,’” Allen said. “She said I could do anything I wanted and I didn’t tell her.
It was a surprise. I just like to paint flowers - it is kind of a niche and is my style of art. I paint houses and walls and things like that, but I draw. I usually do miniatures, and this (mural) is huge.”
Allen said she quit her job in June and began painting the mural in July. She still is working to complete it.
Before she started painting the mural, Allen said she deep-cleaned the garage wall by power washing it. From there, she said she put primer on the wall.
Allen said it took her a week, working as long as five hours a day, to get the primer on it.
“She started power washing it and it ended up like this (cleaner) and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh,’” Gonzales said. “Then she (Allen) put the primer on. ... And then I was on vacation. I came home to see this mural.”
Allen said that when she first came to Gonzales’ house to begin work on the mural, she looked around at the neighborhood “just to see who lives here and what colors are here.”
“I just wanted to make the mural fit into the community,” she said. “It is a nice community-building project — I really enjoy it.”
Allen said she drew a design for the mural on a piece of graph paper Aug. 4 and that is took about 15 minutes for her to draw. She said she used the graph paper to account for each of the eight boards on the garage wall.
“I was going to do something completely different, but I talked to my daughter and she knows design. She said, ‘That sounds nice, Mom, but I think you are robbing yourself of your art’ because it wasn’t anything like this (mural),” Allen said. “It just wasn’t enough —- it stopped and didn’t finish. So then I started over and did that one (current drawing).”
Creation comes into view
To draw the center of the mural, which consists of a tree inside two half circles, Allen said she took a canning jar lid and drew the inside and outside of it on the graph paper to create her design.
“I did a little practice mural at my house,” she said. “As soon as I could get the paint on the right way, I stopped mine and started this mural.”
As she paints the mural, Allen said she is sticking to her drawing.
Allen said she used a projector to put her design onto the garage wall. She said she then drew the outline on the wall for the mural.
The walls of the mural are painted with oil-based paint, Allen said, “because it seals really good,” while the detailed colors are painted with latex-based paint.
Allen said she usually spends four to six hours a day — sometimes more — working on the mural. She said she has painted it alone and has not had any assistance.
“The only thing that is challenging is the cracks and believing in myself that I can actually do it,” Allen said. “I figured God gave me the vision to do it, so he could help me finish it.”
Allen said that as she has worked on the mural, Gonzales’ neighbors have stopped to admire it and watch her work.
Gonzales said the mural exceeds her expectations.
“I have only been home since Sunday (Oct. 11) from vacation and I came back to see this,” she said. “It was amazing to see. I was like, ‘Whoa, this is awesome.’ She wouldn’t send me a picture so I never knew what it looked like. I didn’t know what to expect, but knowing Jeanne, I knew I would like it.”
Allen said she hopes to have the mural completed “before the snow flies” because she has to seal the mural.
“We will see what nature brings us,” she said.
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