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  • Trish Kennedy-Howe

I'm Painting a Mural This Week

Updated: Oct 24, 2023

I have painted quite a few murals. The process is always different, depending on the subject matter, the venue, and the clients with whom I'm working. For this one, I'm working with a very pleasant young couple, Mindy and Brian, who are expecting a baby boy in January of 2022. They have decided on an outer space-themed mural, to cover one wall, with planets, stars, and astronauts. They also wanted to include a constellation to represent the baby's birthday. They weren't sure exactly when the baby would be born so we decided to include both Capricorn and Aquarius constellations. At our first meeting, they showed me some ideas they had found online and, with those in mind, I created some preliminary artwork to show them. I found some paper at Michael's Craft Store, dark blue, printed with tiny stars, and attached to it some planets and astronauts that I had drawn. The layout I made is shown below as Image #1.

They liked the artwork I had done and asked for a few minor changes. Then we discussed on which wall of the baby's room the mural would be painted. All four walls had been painted a medium shade of gray. There was a window on one wall and a closet on another, so those were out. The obvious wall to use was the one you saw as you entered the room. (If you're going to the effort of having a mural painted, it should really be showcased on the wall you see as you walk into the room.) Mindy and Brian wanted a playful cartoonlike mural with rockets and planets that were not painted realistically. I suggested that they go a little less babyish. I know from experience that children, even at the tender ages of three and four, want things such as furniture and clothing to be more grown-up than they themselves really are. And the mural should have some longevity so as not to be obsolete in the near future. They agreed with me on that point.

Then they talked about how the furniture should be placed in the room. They had planned to put the baby's crib in front of the wall where the mural would be painted. I suggested that the crib should go on the wall opposite, so the baby could see the mural. Babies love color and shapes; it's important that their son be able to enjoy the mural without furniture blocking his view.

At this point, Mindy and Brian asked how long it would take me to paint the mural. This is the question I dread because it's difficult for me to estimate. Sometimes it takes longer than I think it will, sometimes shorter. It depends on what problems may (or may not) come up as I paint. I can't paint more than five or six hours a day; it's too exhausting climbing up and down the ladder, and sometimes my hand cramps from holding the brushes. I guessed that it would take me about three weeks to complete the mural.

When all the details were agreed upon, I started to plan how to tackle this project. It would have been nice if I could have used my projector to transfer my artwork to the wall. However, the room wasn't large enough to provide the distance from the wall I needed to project the image, which was my original artwork on the starry paper. So, I needed to pencil in a grid on the wall of 6" squares, for which I used a level to keep things straight. The wall was 8' x 10'. I had to transfer the design, square by square, to the wall. (See Image #2 for my gridded sketch.) The process of measuring and transferring is very tedious and took several days to complete. It's so much easier when I can use the projector.

Once the image, drawn with white chalk, was transferred to the wall, I started to block in the planets, the rocket, and the other elements. Below, in Images #3 and #4, you can see the beginnings of the mural.

Next, I'll show you the finished mural.

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