Janet Ripper Chambers had other concerns. Daughter of Huntington wildlife artist Chuck Ripper, the watercolorist is learning a new technique on the fly. "This is all latex acrylic," she said. "I'm adapting."
Because the wind and heat dried her paint so fast, she asked a friend to help lay down the background of her Kanawha River fish mural. "He would roll and I would feather behind him."
Chambers has been tracking her hours carefully -- a couple of eight-hours days, one four-hour -- but wouldn't estimate how long it will take to finish.
"The end of August," she said, citing the official deadline. "As long as it takes. Because it's a public display, I want to make sure it's perfect."
Bode seems to be taking things more casually. He's doing his second pier mural, and while he and painting partner Dave Thomas have a basic design, he's leaving some things open to chance.
They started with blocks of color, light on one side, dark on the other.
"It'll be day and night. It's called 'City on the Wake,'" he said, a play on words. "The dark blue will be night, the light blue day. People going east will get the night, people going west will get the day. It's kind of post-modern, cubist."
He showed where he'd been experimenting with splattered paint on the back of the pier. "The night ... we're going to get a little Jackson Pollacky, spatter some colors to get kind of a Hubble space telescope effect."
He's also set aside a small section where he hopes to get other mural artists to add their personal touches, as long as they're in the spirit of the overall design.
Money for the murals this year comes from two sources. FestivALL organizers donated $10,000 of grant money from the Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation; Peer to Pier is one of FestivALL's public art initiatives. The city of Charleston kicked in another $13,000.
The project, which was scheduled to start June 1, was delayed for nearly three weeks because of safety and logistical issues. A contractor working on the I-64 bridge had to move a fence that encloses its staging area near the piers. And several artists raised safety concerns.
"There were a couple of piers very close to traffic," said Allen Copley, director of the city's traffic engineering department. "We did a shoulder closure. It consists of advance warning signs and reflective orange cones." The cones carve out an extra six feet between the curb and traffic at both ends of the project.
Copley admits he wasn't totally sold on the murals.
"When I first heard of that, I wasn't sure I'd like it. But it's pretty neat. It's better than a plain concrete column."
Reach Jim Balow at ba...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5102.