Jersey Mural Journal
Mural Techniques, Materials and Tutorials
This is my Jersey Mural Journal Blog where I write about my work as a muralist, my mural and decorative painting techniques, my materials and my experiences.
A plain white day bed and table are brought to life with hand painted flowers, frogs and butterflies. Our young client’s favorite color is purple, she professed to love frogs and butterflies and so our theme was established. She chose pretty yellow daffodils for her table top from a book of flowers because “they were pretty and yellow and looked like butterflies.” It’s always preferable to work with a client who knows what she wants!
The furniture is hand painted on site in acrylic and protected with a water based varnish for maximum longevity.
The proprietor of White Tiger Laundry had a vision to enhance the retro style of his interior and it involved brick. He had custom neon signs installed on white walls and it lacked the drama he was looking for. The answer was brick. He had seen neon lights on real brick walls at a restaurant and that was exactly the effect he wanted. Our company was called in and we recommended a plaster finish that simulates brick at a fraction of the cost of an actual brick facade installation.
To start the design process, we looked a several examples of real brick culled from the internet and our client chose one that he liked. There are so many different shades of brick to choose from on a spectrum from warm orange through deep maroon. To get the most realistic and aesthetically pleasing effect, we mix three different shades that are applied in a random pattern. We tinted the plaster with Benjamin Moore HC-64 and HC-65.
The first step is to scumble the wall in a grey glaze to create the mortar effect. Next is to measure and tape the brick with quarter inch automotive tape. It is a meticulous and time consuming process, but well worth the effort. Next is to apply the plaster, tinted to three different shades. Each brick is painted by hand with a chip brush. It would be faster and easier to use a roller, but you would lose the lovely distressed look of each brick with it’s rounded corners and random colors. Last step is to glaze the brick with a cloudy grey and a black glaze for that extra touch of realism.
We were asked to create a pair of signs to mount on the wall flanking the driveway to our client’s home in Virginia. The original farmhouse on a parcel of land that has been divided, their home has a historical significance that is very important to them. They wanted to maintain a traditional look to the signage while personalizing it to reflect their own style.
The crown at the top is an obvious reference to their street address. The back story refers to the lady of house who deems herself “Queen of the household, domestic Goddess.” She asked that the crown have jewels in her favorite colors: red, purple and green The wings are a nod to our client’s penchant for riding Harley Davidson motorcycles. The background color is Benjamin Moore “Old Navy.” The 24 carat gold effect is achieved with Ronan Real gold metallic paint.
The pin stripes in the foyer of an English style Carriage House exemplify the Dutchess of Windsor’s claim, “You can never be too rich or too thin.” The skinny stripes are hand painted in a very deep rich green and the result is a properly tailored and immaculately dressed entrance way fit for royalty.
The walls were painted with a brush (not rolled!) to flatten the paint and avoid a texture. The base color is Benjamin Moore “everglades” in a matte finish. The walls were carefully measured in 3/4 inch increments using a water-based pencil. One half inch auto tape was then used to tape out the vertical lines. The resulting 1/4 inch stripes were painted in Benjamin Moore “tarrytown green.”
The stripes needed to be custom designed around the arched window casing. We used tracing paper to create a template and measured out from the nearest wall. Then we double check our accuracy with a vertical level
Our switch plates (see the photo below) are always primed and painted to match the walls. Each was carefully marked to match the stripes on the wall. The care and precision we took pays off handsomely.
After all the tape is adhered to wall, it is absolutely necessary to seal the tape with the base paint before painting on the stripe color. Only in this way will you achieve a perfectly clean line with minimal touch up.
Inspired by a masterwork of Tang Dynasty Chinese art, “The Night Entertainments of Han Xizai,” we have selected several scenes from the famous scroll and redesigned them into one scene to produce this 10 1/2 foot wide mural for the home of a very special client.
The original painting is a depiction of an aristocratic setting with decadent and erotic overtones. The subject of the story, Han Xizai, was a minister to three petty emperors of the Southern Tang Dynasty nearly a thousand years ago. Frustrated by the incompetence of his masters and the corruption of the court, he retired to his mansion where night after night he entertained his friends with all the pleasures offered by his singing and dancing girls. It was said that the emperor sent a painter to record these goings-on, hoping to shame Han Xizai into reforming his ways.
The detail at left shows a girl with a lute and three flutes in her hand talking to a maid. The serving girl’s tray is laden with food and wine. A “bed-couch” with rumpled bedclothes is commonplace in the relaxed atmosphere of the household of Han Xizai
In the detail at the right a lutanist sits before a screen, providing music for the dancing girls.
Han Xizai himself, a large and imposing figure, provides the drum beat for the musical entertainment, seen in the detail below.
One of his guests plays the clappers and the guest of honor is the only seated figure. Behind the man with the clappers stand the quiet figure of a monk who seems very out of place at Han Xizai’s party. Perhaps he is wondering what the future holds for a man who wastes his time on such frivolous pursuits.
We are very happy to have been invited to the house of Han Xizai for a glimpse back to a time nearly one thousand years ago when artists were relied upon to tell the story and capture it for future generations.
A beach scene, painted in our graphic mural style, spans the 15 foot width of this Nursery wall above the chair rail. Our client has fond childhood memories of the beach and she wanted to share that with her newborn. They are expecting their baby in March of next year and have chosen not to know the baby’s gender. We were asked to design a mural that would carry their baby through the first five years and would work equally well for a little boy or a girl.
A wave splashes against the surf, in contrast to the serene still life of the remains of a day at the beach.
A brightly colored hot air balloon floats by a yellow rubber ducky. The bold colors of the toys create a nice variety against the pastel shades of the beach.
A teen aged girl who loves lavender, loves shopping for shoes and loves her pets inspired us to paint a very unique mural.
The walls have been striped with a nice wide lavender stripe, using a sponge to give it a lacy effect. A border is created of 60′s style pop flowers, centered on the top of each stripe.
Bright green topiary are planted in pretty pink pots. Whimsical furnishings are painted in gold metallic curly ques to create a wrap around mural.
Shoes are strewn strategically around the perimeter to tie it all together.
Her pets are painted in high realism in contrast with the bold bright colors and shapes of the furnishings.
A Baby’s Room receives a wrap-around mural of full color vignettes of Mother Goose nursery rhymes that include the Cow that Jumped over the Moon, the Cat and the Fiddle and the Plate and the Spoon. Inspired by a favorite book, the illustrations are re-configured for mural painting. The palette is also re-designed to coordinate with the bedding, curtains and wall color that were selected for the room.
Austin is nuts about kite surfing. He is also an incredible student who was awarded a trip to Australia with his school. His parents are, understandably, extremely proud and wanted to give Austin a special home coming mural in his room.
First, we gave Austin a selection of blues to choose from for his wall color. He picked a blue that reminded him of the sky on a sunny day, Benjamin Moore 2055-50.
Next we looked at photos of kite surfing and he picked the one he liked the best. We were provided with a great head shot of Austin to paint the best possible likeness of him.
The result is a rockin custom mural, painted in one day. Below is the full mural, painted onto the adjacent wall to include the kite.
Our up-coming mural is one of the most unusual requests we’ve had to date. Our client would like to extend the length of his second floor hallway with a trompe l’oeil mural. In itself, that is a wonderful illusion but it could be easily achieved by the installation of a large mirror. What a mural will provide that a mirror cannot is the element of magic and surprise. At the end of the hallway, a door opens to reveal some uninvited guests. It should be noted that this mural may not be suitable for young children!
The finished mural, below, is so successful, it is difficult to see where the real walls end and the illusion begins.
Our intrepid client posed in a doorway for the demon and so there may be some resemblance! In the distance are Valkyries flying in the sulfur skies and hell fire burning below. The hallway is duplicated down to the light fixtures, high hats and brass door knobs. The eerie result is a Magritte style deception hidden within the look of normality.