Friday, July 19, 2013

Painting a Wall Mural

This past weekend I went to my brother and and sister-in-law's new house to help them paint a mural in their living room.  Donna, my sister-in-law, is an artist is well, so it was wonderful to have the opportunity to do some teamwork painting.  

Donna had already picked out her basic idea and painted the base coat color on the wall before I arrived.  She also had paint for the mural ready in the house just from painting walls after they moved in.  However, if you were looking to do a mural and didn't want to have to buy tons of paint, I highly recommend going to either Home Depot or Lowe's to buy test containers of paint.  For roughly $3, they will mix a half pint container of whatever color you want.  Just pick out the paint chip, take it to the desk, and within a few minutes you'll have what you need.  I do this all the time for furniture and other home decor DIY projects.  

I had borrowed a portable overhead projector from my classroom to help us plot out the mural.  Donna showed me her reference images she had picked out and I took the one she liked best in to Photoshop to do some edits.  I wound up making two files, one for the left side of the wall and one for the right side, since the projector sheets are 8.5" x 11".  I did a test with Sharpie marker on some blank transparency sheets to figure out approximately what size we would need.  We had a limited amount of space in the room to back the projector up and focus it, so it was good that we did this planning stage before making any files to print.  

I made each file no taller than 8.5", with the width being between 6" and 7.5" depending on the width of the tree.  I also converted the images to plain black silhouettes and then saved them as both a JPG and a PDF, since we didn't know which file type the print shop would prefer, and saved them on a USB stick.  We tried Staples first, but they were having some printer issues.  We had better luck at a FedEx Kinkos, where they were able to print two transparency sheets for roughly $1.20. 

The projector saved us a lot of time, since freehanding all of the branches would have taken forever to get them just the way we wanted.  To get some of the lower parts projected correctly, I just turned the projector on its side.  It was a little fuzzy in some areas, but we both have enough drawing experience that it wasn't a problem when it came to making edits.

Once we were done drawing everything out, it was time to start painting! We put an old blanket down to protect the floor and got to work.  It helped that we had good brushes, meant for acrylic painting, to use so that we could get a nice tapered end for the leaves and branches.  This is definitely not a design that you would want to use a stiff brush for.  

Donna and I took turns painting different areas.  I did a lot of the taller stuff, and we also took turns switching left and right sides so that everything would blend together in terms of leaf shapes.  I had to leave when it was about 90% done, so Donna finished off the last bits on her own.  Eventually she's going to go back and add a second coat so that the color is nice and uniform.  You can see an in progress shot from the early painting stages below.  

The finished mural turned out really nice, and it looks lovely in their living room.  It adds a great whimsical touch.  

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