Honoring the Return of the Games to Greece

Artist Rip Kastaris and Group360 create a mural for Athens Olympic Stadium

Big Picture

Artist Euripides "Rip" Kastaris worked with Group360 in St. Louis to create Kyklos - Circle of Glory, a mural installed at Athens Olympic Stadium in Greece, honoring the return of the Olympic Games to that country.

The image itself began as traditional acrylic painting that was digitized (scanned by Group360's in-house imaging department) and then manipulated in Photoshop by Kastaris. He added traditional painting media to the digital print, and re-scanned the image, then worked on it again.

"The digital Photoshop composition, created from a montage of several traditional and digital images, went through various changes over time, using both traditional and digital methods," he says. "Many times I'll output a certain stage of an image onto canvas or cotton rag, paint over it by hand, and then re-scan the mixed-media painting back into the computer. There are some things that are better achieved traditionally and some digitally. I use all the tools to my advantage," says Kastaris.

He delivered the digital file back to Group360, which used its 6-color Vutek 3360 to output the image at a final size of 7-1/2 x 15-ft. onto Neschen Solvotex Artist 310 media, a coated polyester. Why the Neschen media? "Rip was looking for a true canvas look," says Group360's Tom Schrand, "and we needed something at least 96-in. wide in order to print this in one piece. This media gave him the texture he was looking for, and, because it's coated, provided us with vibrant color." "

Once Kastaris received the output from Group360, he glued the print onto laminated Sintra. To create a substrate that would be many times the size of a single sheet, Kastaris used PVC cement to bond together three layers of multiple sheets of _-in. Sintra -- covering a horizontal layer with a vertical layer, then covering that layer with a horizontal layer, etc., for strength.

Then, to give the mural a more aged look, he used a chisel to chip slivers from the Sintra, piece by piece, "until I had a finished shape that looked like an ancient, broken fresco from a thousand years ago." Sintra, says Kastaris, "is a great material that can be sanded, sawed, chiseled and even formed into new shapes using heat. I break the edges of it with sledgehammers and it looks just like broken rock or slate on the edge because it's the same all the way through. In this case, I didn't like the result when hammering chunks off, but using a chisel rendered perfect results." "

For Kastaris, the inkjet print served as "an underpainting." He used brushes, pallet knives, and trowels to apply acrylic gel medium over the image, adding strokes and textures. He followed up with acrylic colors, gold leaf, gold sizing, and thin washes of paint. "The combination of texture covered by gold leaf gives the effect of an aged, pitted gold surface." "

For installation, the image was hung in front of a "bronze" frame set a couple of inches forward so that it cast a drop shadow on the metal. This base frame is 2 to 3 in. thick and has dimensional relief elements (including ornate circular medallions in the top two corners and an architectural dental pattern at the bottom). The total size of Kyklos - Circle of Glory: 11 x 17 ft. (Rip Kastaris: www.petrafineart.com; Group360: www.group360.com)

View more from this Big Picture issue