ANIMAL’s feature Artist’s Notebook asks artists to show us their original “idea sketch” next to a finished piece. This week, New York artist CERN talks about creating his recent murals.

I knew I would have to paint something fast due to various time restraints and something that would work with the height and point of view of the building. I had recently painted elephants from this perspective, high up in London, so I knew that I could pull it off quick.

When drawing on the train, the idea of the falling elephant  with a cat sitting cozy with it seemed to capture a good balance of stability and danger. I felt it would give motion and stillness. A calming chaos.

Brooklyn:

I used the sketch when painting, but I changed some ideas based on my actual reach, and added somethings as I went along. It takes on a life of its own with form and colors.

Centre-fuge project, LES:

I try to find interesting surfaces, either something new and inspiring or an old favorite that I know will flow well, like a truck. Sometimes, I am given time and can research and plan. Other times it really just has to be in the moment.
South Africa:

I rarely do complex drawings for a mural, usually thumbnail shapes of various elements that I draw super quick and look like chickenscratch that become hard to trace to the final work, especially if drawn on random scrap paper.

I try to flip it up and do anything from using references or improvising at the moment.

Rochester, New York:

Over the years, I’ve repeated certain imagery/themes but feel blessed to have gotten to paint quite a bit where I get to experiment a good deal as well.

Previous Artists’ Notebooks

Artist’s Notebook: Buff Monster
Artist’s Notebook: The Yok and Sheryo
Artist’s Notebook: COPE2
Artist’s Notebook: Evan Roth
Artist’s Notebook: CYCLE
Artist’s Notebook: Ron English