LOGANSPORT — An owner at Anytime Fitness in Logansport just wanted a painted wall for a new challenge at the center. But when she asked 18-year-old art student Mégane Butin to paint that mural, Butin took the idea and ran with it.
The mural she painted shows a beach scene viewed through a hole in an old stone wall, symbolism intended to motivate gym members in taking on the fitness center’s most difficult challenge.
Gym co-owner Laura Raimondi said the trainer who came up with the challenge wanted a wall where members who completed it could write their names.
The workout combined a total of 15 cardio and strength exercises, so the wall idea was meant to motivate the gym’s members to beat the challenge.
“We already had a wall,” she said. “We could have just drawn an empty box.”
Raimondi decided, instead, to have an art student paint a simple mural onto a portion of the concrete-block wall. She called high school art teachers for recommendations, and one of them, a Century Career Center graphic design instructor, recommended Butin.
“She was probably by far our best fine arts student, illustrator,” said Amanda Kramer, who has taught graphic design, commercial arts and digital photography at the career center since 2004. She was especially impressed by Butin’s sense of color and how rapidly she finished projects.
Raimondi “was saying it was going to be very basic,” Kramer said. “In my head, I was thinking, she could go a long way with it.”
Kramer connected Raimondi with Butin just a few days before school ended for the summer.
Butin, an exchange student from Brittany, France, started taking art lessons when she was 8 years old.
“I was very, very young, and I was drawing with my brother, little cartoons and things,” Butin said, “and somebody told my parents I should go to classes. And that’s how everything started.”
Over the last decade, she’s studied painting, drawing and three-dimensional art, painting some small murals in friends’ homes along the way. The mural in Anytime Fitness, measuring about 4.5 feet by 6.5 feet, was by far the largest she’s done, she said.
“At the beginning, they just wanted a wall, and I said, maybe that’s kind of boring,” Butin recalled.
Raimondi was glad to give the student some artistic leeway.
“She thought differently,” Raimondi said. “She thought. This wall is separating you from this beautiful beach.”
What Butin envisioned was a wall punched through, showing a beach with Caribbean palm trees growing on the shore. An orange sky silhouettes the beach and the trees and reflects off the ocean.
“Why the beach? People come here to work out, they want that nice body to look nice on the beach,” Butin explained.
The scene itself was a work of “pure imagination,” she said, but she used vivid colors to give exercisers an emotional jump start.
“I made bright colors to punch them, like ‘Hello! Good morning!’” she said.
Both the muted colors of the brick wall and the vibrant hues of the beach scene were mixed using just a few colors bought at a local art supply shop, Raimondi said.
“We only bought, like, five colors of paint,” she said. “She mixes and blends and mixes and blends, that’s what she liked to do.”
Although Butin’s somewhat limited English made buying paints more challenging — “the color of the paints I knew in French, but it was kind of hard in English” — she started painting the mural soon after school ended. Butin completed the project in about two weeks, spending roughly five hours each weekday painting the mural.
“When I was painting, people were saying, ‘I want to go to this beach.’ That’s exactly what I wanted,” Butin said.
The wall’s accompanying challenge list went up June 20, outlining the exercises a person must execute within the challenge’s time limit. One man beat the challenge on June 25.
The mural gives exercisers bigger bragging rights after they finish the challenge, according to A.J. Humerickhouse, the first person to finish it.
“It doesn’t add to your motivation, but it gives you something to look forward to, like ‘hey, I did this,’” he said.
But the challenge for Butin is choosing when the mural is officially done.
“For me it’s not finished,” she said, “but I don’t have much time left.
They think it’s finished but I don’t think so.”
Butin returns to France on July 21. She’ll complete one more year of school there before graduating, she said, and wants to study art in college.
“I took this year to kind of take a break and think about what I want to do,” she said.
She’s now considering applying to an Italian art institute based on her French art professors’ recommendations.
• Sarah Einselen is a staff reporter for the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5151 or firstname.lastname@example.org.