I was recently invited by the President of Great Basin College (GBC) to paint one of the big cowboy boots that will be put around town to celebrate Elko Nevada’s Centennial this spring. My boot will be in residence in my studio for awhile, as it must be completed for installation by April 1, 2017. It is six feet tall and weighs 110 lbs! It must be completed for installation by April 1.
Approximately 20 cowboy boot statues will be painted by local artists and placed around town, sponsored by local businesses and some individual donors. Business sponsors will place their boots in front of their businesses. Other boots will be located near civic landmarks like the courthouse and the post office.
My boot will be placed on the GBC campus.
The hollow fiberglass boot arrived as shown above, primed for painting. I was particularly daunted by the many folds in the upper portion of the boot, which will make it challenging to paint detailed pictures on those parts of the boot. I wish the boot designers had thought of that when they made the mold!
I therefore opted for a less painterly, graphic-oriented design that will be meaningful to the college community for many years to come. The boot will also commemorate GBC’s 50th anniversary, which will also be celebrated this year.
I made two lists of words/phrases that would represent the GBC faculty and students, respectively. My plan is to place one list on each side of the boot uppers, positioning the lettering on the folds of the boot. This approach will make lemonade out of those lemons, using the folds to my advantage.
The pictures above show the proposed layout and sizes of the lettering, before any painting was done on the boot.
Working closely with GBC President Mark Curtis, the boot’s coloring and other design elements were decided. Here is the approximate mock-up of the colored design that was approved.
The college’s colors are green and gold, so those colors were chosen for the boot. The clock tower graphic and “WE ARE GBC” will be placed in the area shown, with mirror-image tilting on the opposite side of the boot. The clock tower is a popular landmark on the campus. The GBC 50th anniversary logo will be placed on the top front of the boot. GBC’s 5oth anniversary commemorative coins will be placed in metal bezels like buttons where shown on the base of the boot pull straps. Each side of the coins will be featured on one side of the boot. The inside of the boot top will be the same dark brown as the boot pull straps. There is a triple-diamond design on the toe of the boot that will be outlined in the dark brown with mirrors inset in the diamond shapes.
The waterproof, UV-resistant, adhesive lettering and graphic decals have been commissioned and received from a company that produces such items for outdoor applications such as on vehicles and boats. These are applied with a rub-off technique that should be easy to position and work with.
The required white heel plate containing “ELKO 100”, the college logo, and the sponsor and artist’s names has been made by and received from a local sign shop. It will be screwed on with white-headed screws.
On Feb. 18, I airbrushed the boot uppers with Gamboge acrylic airbrush paint, feathering the paint to enhance the surface ripples. The 3.5-hour painting process made my airbrush finger a bit numb, so I’m taking a little break in my painting effort.
The next step will be to airbrush the foot part of the boot green. Then I will add the dark brown accents on the sole, heel, toe, pull straps, dividing scrollwork (between the gold and green colors), and inside the boot top.
Watch for progress reports and photos in future blog posts. I am especially grateful to Dr. Mark Curtis and his wife, Margaret, for their excellent input and help with this literally huge project!