A behind-the-scenes look at one mural project
This section shows how I painted a large mural (about 300 linear feet of canvas) for a private residence on Vashon Island. The project was very detailed. It took me nine months of actual painting after the canvas was cut for each panel and painted with a base coat airbrushed gradation of seven values of purple-black for each panel. I painted my images 4-ft across, 2-ft up, and another 4-ft across every night.
My studio is small at only 20x10-ft. To accommodate working in this small space, my partner, Phil, put together three 8x4-ft MDF panels that slanted slightly toward the roof and set the board so they occupied about a quarter of my floor space with a three-inch high platform running along the back where he built shelving and slots for me to store canvases and supplies. This was already in place before I got the Vashon project.
Another option, which Phil did for me when I was painting in a rental apartment, was to attach these same boards together at the back with wing nuts and 2x4-in boards for a temporary board. When I moved to my own home, we brought the same boards over to make a permanent installation, after he poured the concrete flooring and lifted the ceiling on my little garage to make my studio. I did many 8x12-ft and longer murals (just rolled up the finished section on the right for the longer ones) for Tommy Bahama and about eight different commercial and private projects on these boards.
I loved this project, and also my client, and she was very happy with my work. She is a designer and knew that once the parameters were established — color, subject, theme, and detailed drawings — that she would get my best work if she didn’t micromanage me. I don’t do well with clients breathing down my neck!
Mural making step-by-step
I realize that every project and artist’s needs are different, so spend some time reading this and pick out which approaches might work for you. Click on an image to display in a lightbox.