Trade Secrets 4

Murals and Trompe L'oeil

The following paragraph I borrowed from Art Effects ( there is a link at the bottom) 

A Little History on Trompe L'Oeil

History shows that the Art of Trompe l'oeil Painting has been used for over two thousand years and as a painting style dates back to 400 B. C. Although ancient trompe l'oeil works are lost, descriptions of these paintings have been passed down through history. Today the earliest murals of trompe l'oeil art that exist can be found in the ruins of Pompeii and Eurculaneum and have been dated back to the first century A.D. After becoming part of the rich culture of the Greek and Roman Empires, trompe l'oeil art all but disappeared during the Dark Ages, not to resurface until the Renaissance and Baroque eras. After the discovery of perspective in the fifteenth-century, the trompe l'oeil style in mural painting flourished. Trompe l'oeil artists used these techniques in perspective to create false openings like doors and windows. In Europe this form of three dimensional art on a two-dimensional surface was used extensively by the wealthy and clergy. Churches and grand cathedrals became a common place for trompe l'oeil paintings to be used, giving these houses of worship the appropriate splendor they deserved. The walls and ceilings of palaces, villas and homes of the rich were decorated by artists and muralist with trompe l'oeil paintings, opening the rooms to a grander scale. Trompe l'oeil architectural elements, like columns, pillars and arches were painted adding to the richness and sophistication of their interiors.

First thing you should consider about placing a mural is what ambient effect are you wanting to achieve.

Who is going to see it, your family, friends, customers, work mates, or perhaps a congregation?

Murals have a powerful effect on the viewer, and can transform a space or building. Murals can communicate messages that words never could. A picture is worth a thousand words, but a thousand words can never replace a mural.

Children will, if permitted, paint on the walls of their space. I know this can be annoying for adults but think of the impact of having a mural in your bedroom as a child? You will carry that image throughout your life.

So murals convey messages and create moods and meanings that we may wish our children, customers or family to have.

There are companies that sell wallpaper murals, and some will give you a nice scene with the advantage of being able to see what you are getting before it's on the wall. Beware of trying to cheap out on the application. I have seen great wallpaper murals ruined by lousy paperhangers. It's going to cost quite a bit to get a good one (mural) and why wreck it for a few dollars?

Here's a site to look at wallpaper murals.

Painting Murals.

Because I have spent twenty five years in the film industry, painting murals became a regular occurance in my life. I've worked with great muralists and not so great ones. Some are good at very large projects and some, smaller works.

One important thing that I learnt was that whoever wants a mural would like to see what they are getting before it's completed.

I took a coarse on Photoshop at Quantlen College and that was an excellent way to convey to my clients a visual representation

of my work before it is complete. Submit an idea to me, and I will give you an idea of how to turn it into a beautiful image that fits into your space.

The first consideration is light source. If your mural is in a hallway or away from natural light then you must consider your lighting arrangements. Even opposite a window you may need additional light to show the mural at night .

The light source is also of prime importance when painting the mural. Unless it's an abstract work with no need for an apparent light source. Any landscape, still life, figure or street scene needs it's own apparent lighting. I usually have the painting lit from where ever the actual light is coming from, so as to not conflict with it.

Surface preparation must be done carefully. Fill, sand and prime with a top quality primer. Also be aware of your roller texture and/or brush marks to make sure they are compatible with the painting.

I spend a lot of time researching a mural before it is painted. The best painting style is wasted if the composition is wrong.

Placement of the mural and the position of the images with the mural are best delt with by drawing them out first and using whatever means you are comfortable with. I use photoshop, as it really helps to convey to the client what they are going to see before the mural is painted. It's a lot easier to change before the hours have been spent painting the mural.

Faux Finish comes of course from french, meaning "false", it really is about making something appear to be something else. Take a wall that is half inch drywall and put a few coats of paint and glaze on it and you have marble, old plaster, copper, wood, or stone.

Once the painting methods are learnt, painting projects become  fairly straight forward.

It's like the old fable about a king wanting to learn to paint. He goes to see a tutor and asks to be taught. The teacher says" OK, but first you must learn to dance, so he goes to see a dance teacher and the teacher says "OK, but first you must learn music. And so on.

Well good Faux finishing is a bit like that. You have to have a good knowledge of paint and glaze. Also an art background is very useful, and the basic painting skills enable you to apply the various coatings evenly and quickly without drips and misses.

  After the surface is ready then the image has to be placed on the wall. The old way to do this was by way of a grid, a small grid on the original image and a large grid drawn on the area to be painted. This is useful if there is not enough space to use a digital projector, which, saves lots of time and places the image right where you need it. Use pencil or chalk for this step and be loose with your style, try not to be rigid.
Once that is done then you can start blocking in the main colours. This is just putting in the background colours such as sky and buildings, or fields and mountains.

At this stage let me mention that although anyone can paint a mural, some should not. There is a lot of skill that goes into creating or even copying an image, many times larger than the original onto a wall. If you are an artist and just need some help with a largew project it's best that you contact me. Every project has a character of it's own, so too much general information won't be of much use.

Trade secrets 5

The two links below will help if you are looking to see what can happen when skill, money, and will, come together.

 Home Page

Have a look at some of our mural projects here

Two important Mural painters to look at are Eric Grohe and Wyland