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Anatomy of a Mural

This mural was hand painted using Golden® Fluid Acrylics and glazes. For the detailed work, I have used their airbrush medium to thin the fluids, so the colors are built in layers of washes. I enjoy painting with this combination because I can get transparency and spreadability without an extended open time.

ftnstep1I liked elements from two different fountain photos and the finished piece is a hybrid of them. I projected the fountain images on the wall using an overhead projector. The main contours were traced on the wall with watercolor pencil. I sponged in the background foliage and softened with cheesecloth. The background foliage spilled over into the niches at either side.Then, I painted the grout of the flagstone, as shown in the photo. The flagstone was painted by applying glazes to each individual stone, using a variety of color combinations so they would not all look the same. The texture was achieved by dragging through the glaze with a torn edge of cardboard while the glaze was still wet. Note that the size of the stones get smaller as they recede and that the colors become more muted, as does the pattern in the stones. This helps with the perceived perspective
The first layer of the fountain color was a terra cotta, which was to be the undertone for the piece. Note that even in the first layer, the values are being established. Value refers to the lights and darks. This is what gives the shapes their form. The colors are applied from light to dark, with the darkest tone in the deepest shadows and crevices. A muted greenish shade was used to tone down the orange tones. If you layer a cool color over a warm color, or visa-versa, you will get a natural muting effect .
Flowers and water were added. Water is rather tricky to paint. The first layer is a slightly darker value than the surface it covers, then some darker tones to indicate waves, then a lighter color with a small amount of blue added, then bright white reflections.
The iron design was transferred in part by using a projector. A computer program can come in handy when you need to alter the dimensions of a photo. I was able to photograph an existing gate, and then stretch the photo to fit the dimension needed for my mural. This is pretty easily done with Adobe Photoshop and may be possible with other programs as well. The top pieces were transferred by tracing a drawing with Saral transfer paper. It was painted in a similar manner to the fountain, starting with a reddish brown undertone and adding layers to darken and contour.
The turtle is known in feng shui as a symbol of stability and prosperity, and also had a personal meaning for the man of the house. Whenever possible, I try to include personal touches that may not be apparent to the casual viewer. Ultimately, my work is my artistic expression of my clients' taste, and I enjoy including references to their lives.
Till next time…happy painting!

 

 

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