Archive for the ‘New Projects’ Category

The Great Mural Project-Sky and the Ocean

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

The basic elements to my mural were going to be the ocean and the sky.  These had to define the space, the horizon line and needed to be visually interesting in it’s own right.

The first question was, where do I put the horizon line?  I treated this piece as a huge piece of artwork so I needed to be conscious of the horizon line and visual flow, but still have fun.  I didn’t want to split the wall evenly but I did have a long list of creatures I wanted to paint in the ocean.  I opted for slightly lower than halfway.  I believed that this would be more visually interesting and still leave enough room for sea creatures.   It turns out I had more than enough room for the creatures but that’s because I couldn’t bend over enough with the preggo belly to paint the ocean floor.

When contemplating how to paint the ocean using house paint, I opted to go for a raw sort of look.  I wanted variety in the colors but I also thought that it was critical to create a feel of movement in the ocean.  The ocean is never still, it’s always moving and it breathes. I opted to go with the raw unmixed and unblended colors and just swoosh them all together.  I’ve had great luck with how paint will blend on it’s own and if it’s all wet paint you can create a very active but interesting visual.  In the ocean you can definitely see specific brush strokes (sorry Art Professors in college, you can tell what size brush I used!).  I believe that this creates a lot of movement and action in the ocean. To create variety in the colors I used three colors of blue for the ocean and one foresty green color and didn’t mix them up.  This means that there are swaths of different colors swooping throughout the ocean.  I opted to go with the raw unmixed and unblended colors and just swoosh them all together.  I’ve had great luck with how paint will blend on it’s own and if it’s all wet paint you can create a very active but interesting visual.

For both of these sections I used a large 4in brush and painted rapidly.  In the ocean area you can see how my raw blending of colors in the paint tray made for a visible brush stroke and lots of good movement.








Lessons Learned:  For these sections I’d recommend painting the areas quickly and in vertical swathes.  I wanted horizontal movement of the ocean but the reality is that the house paint dries just fast enough that you need to paint the horizontal movement in vertical stripes.   Otherwise it just won’t look right.  Also, be careful what order you paint in.   I’d recommend painting the sky first and the ocean second… otherwise potential drippage can cause angst and do-overs.

I did something similar but simpler for the sky.  I just added in a little bit of white to the sky blue.. ok and a tiny bit of darker blue.  It turns out that it looks like wispy clouds in the daytime sky.  There is no need to mix it together just dump a bit of white into the color and roll with it.  I didn’t feel the need to have such an active visual for the sky and wanted to keep it simpler.

Pregnancy Nesting and the Grand Mural-the background

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

When I was a child I had a mural on my bedroom wall painted by my mother.  It was amazing, and every night I was able to say goodnight to the purple elephant (who ironically had a nice round preggo belly-mum was 9 months pregnant when she painted the mural) and pet the butterfly and caterpillar goodnight.   When I adjusted to the idea that we would be bringing a child into this world I thought… I want a mural for my child too!  Looking back I was totally insane, this is a fun but massive project. Throughout this series of blogs I’ll be highlighting the lessons I learned so you don’t have to re-learn the lessons!

I didn’t really understand what the project entailed when I decided to paint the mural and typical of my history I bit off a huge chunk when creating the project.  I decided to paint a wall about 10×12 with a mural based on the Pacific Northwest.  And unlike reasonable people I went for a quasi-realistic scene.  I don’t know how to create cutesy animals and scenes.  When I do try to create them they look ridiculous and unappealing… so I didn’t even try for this project.

The process started with planning, and sketching and then some more planning.  I opted to sketch on the wall as I considered composition.  This gave me a good perspective of where I wanted the horizon line.  Of course as a trained artist I couldn’t put the horizon line in the middle but neither did I want the whole piece to be all sky… I needed some room to paint the ocean creatures.

Lessons learned: I definitely would recommend using a charcoal pencil to do this.  Graphite pencil or red colored pencil would leach through the paint and then everyone would know about your pre-painting sketching.  I also recommend using either a black or a white charcoal pencil, red is a wonderful color but frankly it is more likely to bleed through than the white or black.

When I asked my guru art friends about murals they all suggested using professional grade Acrylic paint to paint the details on the mural.  But that much acrylic paint just wasn’t in my budget.  I used house paint to create the landscape and saved the acrylic paint to paint the creatures.  Now that I’ve completed the project I’d recommend using as much acrylic paint as you can afford.  It’s designed to handle layers on a vertical surface, won’t drip and the colors are sooo much better.  I definitely had to re-do areas where my landmass dripped into my ocean, and if I’d used acrylic I wouldn’t have had to redo a thing!  All that being said, house paint worked ok… just remember that house paint dries slightly darker than it’s wet color!

New Work-Bhutan and Pacific Northwest Nights

Monday, August 17th, 2009

I’ve been working on several pieces and thought I’d include some images here.

The first piece is a watercolor landscape done in the puddling style.  The painting is based on my travels through Bhutan, a small country in the Himalaya’s.  While traveling through Bhutan I noticed that the air was incredibly clear, wonderful and it was some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever experienced.   The country itself was very safe, the people were lovely and the food not so lovely.  We knew we had problems when the dogs (which were everywhere) couldn’t eat food that we had leftover (read the meat was so tough I couldn’t eat it).  The painting isn’t finished, I am going to add a river flowing through the piece and some light colored mountains.  I am going to strive to achieve a sense of distance.  Grey out the colors in the distance so that you feel like you’re looking far away.


This other piece is something that came to me while standing in our backyard on a cloudy night.  Out here, we get these amazing cloudy nights, where the light filters through the clouds and silhouettes trees.   As I stood in our backyard appreciating the night I started to dream about how to translate it onto paper.  I’m trying two translations, one is watercolor and one is in oil.   Although I almost always work in water based media I thought this would be interesting in oil… so I’m starting.   I finished the sky in both the oil in the watercolor.

IMG_0113 In the oil I love the flow and movement of the colors in the oil painting.   It’s very different than my usual style and I am interested to see what happens for the rest of the piece.  We’ll see if I love it, hate it or screw it up :).   As in the watercolor I will add in tree silhouettes to really develop the composition.


In the watercolor piece I didn’t go as dark as I often do but it may still be too dark for my vision.  I’ve yet to decide if I love this night sky yet but I thought I’d put it out there so you could see the artistic process.   I would like to hear any thoughts.   I plan on putting in pine tree silhouettes in the next few days.

I would love any comments or ideas.