Crawling the Wall: The Making of a Mural

Crawling the Wall: The Making of a Mural

Lest you think that only smooth interior walls or whitewashed exterior ones can provide the surface for mural magic…let me set you straight.


What is a mural ?  Related to the French word “mur”, meaning “wall”, the term “mural” is derived from the Latin mūrālis, which means “of a wall”, derived from the Latin mūrus, or…WALL!  And…there are so many kinds of walls…


Some sport a trellis, such as the wall I was to paint for my client, Maureen.


This was her view through her kitchen window, in a neighborhood that is often permeated in dense fog.


Well, picturesque though it might be…the trellis had to go.


Underneath, the corrugated texture of the wooden siding posed another painting challenge.


Maureen’s contractor and landscaper, Greg Spry of  Spryscapes had designed a bench for the deck, so the mural needed to work with it.


The deck opened out directly from the living/dining area, which informed the mural’s color palette.


I also took inspiration from the colors, textures and patterns of pillows, textiles, artwork, and other details inside,


as well as from Maureen’s business card.


She loves flowers and plants, and with that fog,  they can be challenging to grow and maintain on the deck.


Taking a cue from the wall’s trellis “history”, I designed a composition of curving vines, punctuated by big splashes of brightly colored blossoms, and made it to-scale.


On a rare lovely, sunny day, I set up a little outdoor studio right on the deck , and set to work.


The essentials: mockup, palette, and rags.  Oh yes…the paints are out there too.


I began with a rough chalk outline on the wall, closely following the design depicted in the mockup.


I laid in the underpainting for the leaves , “vines”, and and stems, over which the other colors would go, in a cool green hue.  I had cut stencils (incredibly useful!) in varied sizes for the leaves, and adhered them to the side wall with blue painters tape in-between color applications.


Next came the underpainting of the flower blossoms in a brilliant yellow.


All the paints used are artist’s  acrylic designed for mural painting, which I bought at the Precita Eyes Muralists Community Art Store in San Francisco.


Next, I laid in the other colors, and added details, complexity and depth with layers of color that shifted in value from dark to light and back again.


I used sets of strongly contrasting complementary colors to add energy, intensity, “pop” and vigor to the design.


I disregarded the edges of the strips of siding, and its corrugated texture, and painted right over it and into its texture, applying layers of slightly watered down paint to the painted surface to fill each area, and give the sense of unbroken blossoms of color dancing across the wall.


Maureen’s painter had base painted the wall in a neutral color, which made the technicalities of my task easier, as his efforts helped to unify the surface.


The idea was to create a rhythm, and feeling of movement, color and pattern across the wall.


The colors would change with the light, but always add a


sense of whimsy, magic and joi de vivre to the deck and to the home,and to animate it,


all the way to the end.

(Of course the painting is varnished to protect it from those foggy elements.)

  Now Maureen has a magical, motion-filled garden to look at when she raises her eyes from the kitchen sink, and looks out the window to  the deck. These are flowers that don’t require watering!

Here’s to the bon vivant, Maureen, Cheers!




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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. What a lovely story! Thanks for sharing the process with us. I love your work.

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