Transcript for Artist paints 60,000-sq-ft mural by hand in Downtown L.A.
So I have to be very, very focused and very, very sharp. Reporter: At the corner of fifth and hill streets in downtown Los Angeles, something unprecedented is happening. Suspended high on a scaffold with his cans of paint and an array of brushes, a single artist is trying to do something no one has ever done before. We want for it to be the biggest record. Reporter: Robert vargas. No relation. He's been working every day to have three months painting the largest mural in the world by a single artist. I'm going through tons of brushes. Reporter: Each morning on his way to try and set the guinness world record, he greets the denizens of this gritty block. Many of whom have spent weeks watching him work painting the 60,000 square foot creation he calls Angeles. How big a brush do you use? Sometimes a broom. A broom? A broom. Reporter: He has spent hundreds of hours alone on his scaffold with his brooms and brushes. A far cry from his usual high-energy performance painting. Everyone, give it up for Annabel! Reporter: Vargas became famous for edgy portraits, part street art, part high art, part mystical experience. You can find him painting on his canvas on the ground in cities across the world. Communing with stars like Kate Hudson, William Macy, Howie Mandel. As well as residents of skid row. All of whom happily sit for the vargas experience. It usually happens with a crowd leaning in. The spectacle of vargas at work as riveting as the painting he creates. Music playing loud. No talking ever allowed. And it's all over in minutes. One man's glimpse into another man's soul, he says. All rendered in chalk and acrylic and water. It's a very intense sort of dance. I use a variety of different mixed media. Charcoal to ink and enamel paint, oil bar sticks, water, brushes, tease things. I saw you pour water on one. And I nearly grabbed your hand to say, you're making a mistake, you don't mean to do that. Reporter: His talent of portraits vargas said grew out of a need to prove himself as a young artist. When I was in the fourth grade, lost a drawing contest because the judges thought that I had an uncle that lived at home and did it for me. Really? It was that experience that also was a little bit of a birth of me painting live. Reporter: While his portraits can take just six minutes, the mural will take six months. The biggest challenge, painting a scene he can't see because he's so close. On a 14-story building, when you're a foot and a half away from the wall, no use of grids, no use of prodirections, no use of stencils, all freehand with a brush. It's very challenging. For the nonartists in the audience, explain what that is. Typically if you're using -- if you're painting on a really large scale, you'd like to grit it out the way the old masters did. What did Michael an gel although do at the sistine chapel this. Grit it out. He made his initial drawings and studies and created grids to map it on the ceiling. Why do you do it freehand? I trust my intuition. Reporter: The mural is an homage to the people of los the mural? Unity. Hope. Escially right now with the current climate of what's going on in the world. The anchor for the wall is a tungava Indian girl, they're the original people that inhabited the L.A. Basin. Reporter: A salute at a time race relations are tenuous and tested. The placement of this wall is one that will reach two different counterpoints with the social and economic classes of Los Angeles. My inspirations and my friends are coming in all different shapes, sizes and colors. And I want to celebrate that. Reporter: The project is in the shadows of the glittering new high rises and just above the nation's largest homeless population. It's a wall that's meant to reach everybody. And connect with people. Show that the homeless people are also important and significant. Why do you do that? Because they're part of my community. I don't see any separation between where they are and where I am. Reporter: For "Nightline," I'm Elizabeth vargas in downtown Los Angeles.
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