Painting outdoors is the ideal for many artists who want to capture the effects of natural light. Sherry Ferrin painted her last mural in the dark.
That mural is inside a new 24-foot-long tunnel at Christmas Village, built for the train that was added to the village last year.
"The outside doors are painted like rocks, so it looks like a cave," said the Ogden artist.
Inside the tunnel, train passengers see scenes of a home decorated for the holidays.
"You see rows of great, big Christmas lights on both sides, going down the tunnel, and then Christmas wreathes and a great, big fireplace with stockings and lots and lots of great, big, jumbo presents," she said. "On the other side is a Christmas tree."
Ferrin started painting a traditional mural, with detailed wood grain in the fireplace and the tree. She even painted every needle on the tree. Then she realized something important.
"When you turn the lights off, you don't notice," she said.
All that shows is the work she did in fluorescent paint, so she had to take a different approach to painting.
"I'd say 20 percent I painted in the light, but 80 percent in the dark," she said.
Painting with light
The tunnel scenes are meant to glow in the dark, so Ferrin used fluorescent paints.
"It was quite a process, because they only have certain colors," she said. "I was able to find theatrical paint that I was able to mix to get browns, beiges and other wonderful colors for the fireplace."
Painting in the dark, using just black lights with the fluorescent colors, was a great experience for Ferrin.
"It looks like you're painting with light," she said.
Ferrin had only three weeks to paint the 6-foot-high scenes on both sides of the long tunnel, but big projects are nothing new to her.
She and a few family members painted a 180-foot-long mural, designed by her son Josh Ferrin of Bountiful, in downtown Ogden. Other projects include a 38-by-8-foot mural in the Front End Grille in Salt Lake City and multiple stage backdrops for Ogden's Imagine Ballet Theatre.
Several of the horses lining the streets of Ogden during Pioneer Days were painted by Ferrin, and soon she'll be painting a safety mural in the train museum at Ogden's Union Station.
"It is very fulfilling to be involved in public art, and knowing that you are contributing to make your own community a wonderful place to live," she said.
The tunnel isn't Ferrin's first art project at Christmas Village. About 15 years ago, she painted the faces on 30 large dolls for houses at the village.
"Last year I painted two big murals inside of Santa's castle," she said. "I've also done posters for Christmas Village for the last four years."
Ferrin has loved being part of the group that brings Christmas Village to life, and says this year members cheered her on by checking out her work each day and turning the art into screen savers on their phones.
Her family has also enjoyed watching her create artistic magic for Christmas Village.
"I brought my grandson in one day, and he said, 'Grandma, this is one of the coolest things you've done,' " said Ferrin.