Colorful mural planned for Luther Burbank Park

Above, a detail from Natalie Oswald
Above, a detail from Natalie Oswald's mural planned for Luther Burbank Park.
— image credit: Contributed Photo

When artist Natalie Oswald first saw Luther Burbank Park she was struck by the scenery. Oswald, who was commissioned to paint a mural above the tennis courts on the North-end of the park, couldn’t help but notice the stunning backdrop aligned with her style, what she describes as “a lot of nature and birds and sky and water.”

“When I apply for something I want to make sure that there is something there that speaks to me and resonates with my style.”

Oswald will begin painting  in late August and expects the process to take about a week. The project has been funded and commissioned by the Arts Council.

When she first learned about the project, the wetlands and nature of the space resonated with her. Oswald’s early sketches depicted a sinking sun above the water. But community input helped her tone down the bright colors, which some neighbors thought would be a distracting display on the practice wall.

“Of course, that made perfect sense to me. Things like that – where an issue or a consideration will come up – I really enjoy that part of the process,” says the painter.

Oswald is trained as a studio artist. She lives in Port Townsend and made her first commissioned mural last year.

“When you’re in the studio, it’s a very private, controlled environment. You have your coffee and your music and you know what to expect,” she laughs. “With murals, there are always surprises...You spend 20 minutes talking to a kid or the rain starts coming down.”

Oswald typically works from top to bottom. Her sketches are transferred to a grid and from the page onto a wall, using sidewalk chalk. After cleaning and priming the space she begins meticulously to transfer her vision to her canvas. Because of the enormous size of the space, Oswald will likely use a spray gun, much the same as is used for car detailing.

“We inherited that park from King County and the design that was already there needed to be upgraded,” said Amber Britton, arts and cultural events coordinator for the city. “We thought this was the perfect pallete to compliment the new playground.”

Oswald’s installation will be the Island’s first public mural.

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