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.

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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…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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as well as from Maureen’s business card.

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

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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.

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

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

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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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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Mural Magic

Mural Magic

One of the joys of creating site specific art works, and murals in particular, is just that; their specificity, and particularity.   Working with a client to determine the theme, subject, imagery and details of a mural can become a collaborative journey that yields surprising results, delighting us with the unexpected.

When I began working with a client who wanted a 6 x 12′ Chinese Garden” mural painted on 3 plywood panels that could be affixed to her patio fence, I was excited by the prospect of the research I planned to do, and the new things I anticipated learning about the subject.  We fleshed all of her ideas out through preliminary sketches, and a scaled mockup of the mural as a whole.

My client shared with me the imagery she wanted in her mural, which included Pandas...

Orchids….

a Jade Plant

Bamboo..

Even a (friendly) Tiger!

I loved discovering Chinese Garden Stools

where a cuddly Panda might enjoy a cup of tea….

or play a game of hide and seek…

When the mural was completed, my client said to me, “”I am constantly amazed that you were able to create and depict what I could only talk about. Thank you.” 

A testimonial like that may be the greatest reward of all…in addition to the voyage of fun and discovery we both experienced in our magical mural collaboration.

How have YOU collaborated with Your clients in creating something site specific and custom, just for them?

If you feel so inclined, please about it with us here.

We love to hear from You.

Remember, we are all creating this site specific collaboration called Life, together.

More on Murals: Making Your Mark

MORE ON MURALS: Making Your Mark

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…you guessed it,

WALL!

Not surprisingly, the most literal meaning of the word “mural” is a painting on a wall. However, the term has expanded to encompass a wide range of both interior and exterior applications to the built environment, and a variety of architectural surfaces.

Murals can be painted on panels or canvas, and then affixed to a wall, fence, ceiling, floor, room divider, or roof!  They can be graphical, patterned, or design-oriented in nature,

     

or depict intricate scenes so real that we might find ourselves stooping to pick up what we thought was a feather on the floor, only to find that our hand brushes against its painted surface…

even if the scene is fantastical!

But, how does the artist get from the concept, or idea for a mural, of whatever sort, to the finished, often very large  image you might enjoy in your living room, local restaurant, non-profit organization, mall, or

patio fence?

Well, through the mockup process, namely the creation of a to scale model, or prototype of the intended mural.  This is a way to get a sense of what the completed mural could look like,  and catch potential aesthetic, functional or structural problems before they become actual ones!

From canvas to walls, to doors to exterior fences seen through a second story window, murals can happen anywhere their makers can wield a brush, adhere a tile, or make a mark,one of our most elemental human urges.  Think about the power and  wonder of  cave paintings…

Future posts will explore and expand upon the act of mural, and mark-making,  so hold on to your ladder (or scaffold), and enjoy the ride…

How do YOU “make your mark”?

If you feel so moved, please share about it with us here.

We love to hear from YOU.

Remember, we are all marking our way through this thing called Life, together.

Mockups and Murals

Mockups and Murals

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…you guessed it, WALL!

Not surprisingly, the most literal meaning of the word “mural” is a painting on a wall. However, the term has expanded to encompass a wide range of both interior and exterior applications to the built environment and a variety of architectural surfaces

Murals can be painted on panels or canvas, and then affixed to a wall, fence, ceiling, floor, room divider, or roof! They can be graphical, patterned, or design-oriented in nature, or depict intricate scenes so real that we might find ourselves stooping to pick up what we thought was a feather on the floor, only to find that our hand brushes against its painted surface…

But, how does the artist get from the concept, or idea for a mural, of whatever sort, to the finished, often very large  image you might enjoy in your living room, local restaurant, non-profit organization, mall, or neighbor’s  fence?

Well, through the mockup process, namely, creation of a to scale, model, version, or prototype of the intended mural.  It is a great way to present ideas for approval, and catch potential aesthetic, functional or structural problems before they become actual ones!  Please see below a gallery of assorted mockups, and the murals they spawned. From canvas to walls, to doors to exterior fences seen through a second story window, murals can happen anywhere their makers can wield a brush, adhere a tile, (shh, bad for the environment) press a spray can button. The following images give a sense of scale from mockup to mural, and the various environments murals can exist in. Future posts will explore this subject in greater depth,  so hold on to your ladder (or scaffold), and enjoy the ride!

Mockup for The Land of Oshun”

“The Land of Oshun”, Turk and Taylor Street, San Francisco

Sketches and mockup for “The Donor Tree”

“The Donor Tree”,  Planning for Elders in the Central City,  San Francisco

Mockup for “Window Mural”

“Window Mural”  seen through kitchen window

“Window Mural” seen from below, San Francisco

Mockup  of “Garden Mural”, seen with full-scale mural in process

“Garden Mural”, patio level, San Francisco

Mockup for “Life Journey”,  seen with full-scale mural in process

“Life Journey”,  living room wall, Burlingame, CA

Mockup for “Obi-Cat”

Lower part of “Obi-Cat” on door

“Obi-Cat” on music room door, Palo Alto, CA

Stay tuned for more on murals….

What intriguing murals have YOU seen, or created recently??  

If  you feel so moved, please share them with us here.

We love to hear from you.

Remember, we are all mocking up this thing called Life, together.