Name: Elias Lemus
Major/UNO Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts
Q: What gave you the idea to paint a mural in a campus building?
A friend of mine proposed a mural idea for the library. After a meeting with the staff, we came up with the theme. I drew up some sketches and once one was agreed upon, I was given the green light to start.
Q: How many murals have you painted in the past? Where are they?
I've painted four murals, not including the library's. Three of them are at an elementary school in South Sioux City, Ne, and the 4th is at my old high school in the same city. The ones at the elementary are at the entrance, the library, and the technology room. The one in the high school is in a high traffic area near some lockers. They were all made to liven up the schools by beautifying plain colored walls.
Q: What is your overall process for painting murals? How long does it take?
I first begin with the idea. Since the murals I've done have been commissions, I am introduced with the idea. I've been lucky and have been given the chance to input my ideas, so I brainstorm some up and sketch them. My sketches are shown and explained to the patron. Alterations are considered and then a final idea is agreed upon. At this time, cost and time to work on the mural are discussed; all the details.
Now, I can paint. I start with a white primer to create a "blank canvas" and have something for the paint to stick to.
I sketch the drawing before applying any paint. Depending on the complexity of the picture, I may create a precise drawing, or a lose one that gives me enough guidance to work with.
From there I apply the color. I start with the biggest areas and try to cover up as much of the wall as possible. I let the paint dry in between coats at least a day to prevent peeling.
Q: Was the process for painting the library mural different from other murals you’ve painted?
Yes, the process for the library mural was different. At the time, I had acquired more knowledge about composition, color theory, working methods of master artists, and working with house paint in general, so I was able to have a great result. House paint is very difficult to work with, in my opinion, because it dries fast and the colors have to be picked carefully, or mixtures will not produce colors one typically would expect. A blue and yellow may produce a gray instead of a green, for example. I had many "Ah ha" moments as I became more familiar with the characteristics of the paint and was able to manipulate it better than I had before.
Q: The idea for the mural came from the library leadership team correct? What was it like working with people who aren’t artists and trying to paint their vision?
Yes, they came up with the theme. They may not be artists, but they had great artistic ideas and imagination. It was great working with them; especially because they were open to my ideas and considered my artistic opinions. Sketches help a lot. They allow for the patron(s) to see your ideas and not have to imagine them with just a verbal description.
Q: Do your friends/family know you’ve painted this mural? What do they think?
Yes, my friends and family know. They are all proud and have gone in person to see it; including my high school art teacher, who is one of my greatest mentors.
My friends and family are all very supportive of my art.
Q: What is your favorite part about being a student at UNO?
My favorite part of being at UNO is the academic atmosphere; being around others who want to learn. I'd like to encourage other students to take advantage of the plethora of resources; that includes professors and fellow students. There is so much information available. I wish I would've realized that early on. I had gone the first years of my studies without giving much attention to the library's collection of books and I've now realized how many great art books are there. I'm always trying to further my knowledge, in art and other interests, and I think the library is an amazing resource.
Q: What are your future career plans?
Right now I am on my way to becoming an art teacher. I change my mind constantly though. I'm not sure if I want to teach middle school or high school. I've even considered teaching at the college level. No matter what I choose, I will always be producing art, because it is what I love.
Q: How has the library helped you as a student?
As I've mentioned, the library's resources are immensely helpful and plentiful. I am always checking out books and I also like to use the room [Creative Production Lab] with the computers that have the Adobe suite.
Q: Anything else you would like people to know about you? About your artwork?
I am very serious about my artwork. Art is on my mind 24/7. My art is strictly representational (realistic). My favorite things to paint are people, although I'll paint anything. I like to have a variety of subject matter. I started drawing when I was 2, according to my mom. As my knowledge and skill have grown, I believe my artistic sensibilities have as well. I always try to push my technical ability and the intellect that goes into my art. Right now my favorite media is oil paint, but I can produce work with pencil, charcoal, ink, pastels, colored pencil, acrylic, watercolor, airbrush, etc. When people request a piece I discuss the different media because they all have different effects and they have their pros and cons. I do take commissions... Anyone interested in a commission can contact me with a message through my Facebook or even just through people who know me.
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