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Old 05-12-2003, 10:43 AM
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Thumbs up Western style mural: WIP

Hi, and welcome to my WIP of the mural in a restaraunt that I have mentioned in the daily hot press! I have done enough work, and taken enough pictures to give you a work in progress, and I will continue to update as the work is done. I hope you gather some information from this, and please as always your comments are very much welcome!

Doing a mural is a big task, even for one wall. I have been given the job to cover 4 walls! So that immediatly poses questions to me. Are the walls ajoining, or am I dealing with individual wall murals. Well, it is a mixture of both. Two walls in two separate rooms are touching, so that I can keep the mural going in one scene over approximately 60 linear feet in each of the two rooms. That gives me the option to create two completely different scenes, in where they don't have to have anything in common if I choose not to do so. Now for the theme, it is going to be Western, insomuch as I will paint a desert and add cowboys, cattle, towns, and anything that will make this an interesting mural to view. For the first room, I have chosen to do a two part mural, in the sense that it will look like a sunset, only to fade over into night time as you venture to the left of the wall. That little idea allows me to put a cowboy in a night scene with his horse at camp, cooking a pot of beans. (The cowboy, not the horse) . So a pencil sketch was done of the ideas that were given to me, and the ideas that I had already put into motion. Next was the selection of paint that I would be using. I talked with the client and she wanted something that would wear well under a cleaning from time to time. I told of the options that we could use, highlighting the fact that acrylics would be the best option for a few reasons. 1) The dry time would be quicker, thus allowing a faster turnaround time for a clear coat. 2) That acrylics would not have an oder in the restaraunt, which was a key point for the reastaraunt owner. and 3) That an acrylic based clearcoat could be used, also so the oder would be kept to a minimum. Once that was decided, I went to look for a good acrylic to use.

I have favorites in the acrylic paints. Liquitex is one that I like, but I opted not to use them because I could not find the bulk paint that I would like to use. Windsor also has a good acrylic paint out there, actually the alclyds is what I would have liked to use, but again bulk paint is what I wanted to use. I then happened upon Van Gogh acrylics that were in a bulk container that would be good for me to use, and the price was acceptable. As I looked at what the VanGogh acrylics would do for me, I found that I loved the buttery consistancy they have. That allowed me to thin down to what I needed, or leave the paint as is, and get a fine coverage. I did buy a retarder for the paints so that blending would be possible. I was hoping that it would extend the dry time, but as I found out later, it wasn't as much as I would hope for.

Now that I have the paints, the drawings, and the freshly primered walls, (compliments of the client) I was ready to lay out the design onto the walls. I basically took measurements from the drawing which was done to scale, with 1"= 1' being the scale that I used. Now with this mural, I didn't want to draw every detail on there at this time. To do so would be labor intensive to the point that I would either have to paint over things that I have already drawn, and redraw them, or to paint around the drawn items. So what I did was start from the farthest objects in the mural and proceeded to paint them first. That means the sky, the land, and the mountains/buttes were painted. Then I would draw the next objects and move on to painting them. The next step is very cruical to the mural. I have to make sure that whatever I layout on the predetermined horizon, is perspectively correct. I cannot afford to make a mistake here, for it would show up on the mural in the worst way. So with each item that I add to the mural I will have to place it on the wall with caution.

The first day was the layout and background painting. Here are the photos of the room before I laid the brush to it, and after the first days work.
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Old 05-12-2003, 10:45 AM
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Day two and three. What can I say but I put in some long hours! Thursday saw me painting some 11 hours to try and get a good start on the mural. I know that if I put more paint on the walls the more I will see the direction that I need to be going. So I am mixing a pallette of indian yellow, bright yellow, and bright white to do the sunset. I gradually add cyan to the edge of the sunset and lightly blend the edges so that I don't wind up with a green hue in the sky. I used yellow ochre for the desert floor, adding burnt seinna to darken where needed. In the process I found two problems arise. The corner between the two painted walls would have a reverse corner, that is the corner would come out into the room about a foot or two and the go back to the ajoining wall. That was not the worst of it. I had designed a mountain range in that corner, only to find out that there is a huge airconditioning vent on that reverse corner! Egads! Now what do I do? Ididn't notice it in the prilims, so it didn't get arranged for that. Then a stroke of genius hit me! I had a western town designed to the right of the reverse corner, so I moved it into the corner. Then I designed the town in such a way the one of the buildings would be close enough to make the aircondition vent play a part of the building! And it worked! I was very pleased that I could fix that problem and not have the client know that I had blundered!

So now I have the starting of a western town, and I have been trying to place a small creek into the desert to help give the desert some character. Both of these elements were mostly freehand with the exception of the town where I did use a ruler to keep the vertical lines running right. Again perspective is the key, so I watch what I am doing to the buildings to keep everything in check.


The mountains were my next concern, as I wondered what color I should make them. So I mixed ultramarine blue with permanent red and cam up with a beautiful violet purple that set the mountains apart from the sky and the ground. As I move along , the mixing ratio of blue and red would change to let more blue in the mix. That way by the time I get to the night scene on the same wall, the mountains will reflect a cooler look for evening.

With the mountains basically in place I wanted to work on my first cowboy on a horse. To do this right, for perspective purposes, I draw the figure to full size as I will paint him on the wall. I go ahead and include the neccessary shading that will help make the figure stand out. After I am satisfied with the drawing, I cut around the cowboy and horse, to make a template. Now you may ask why I am doing this. Well again perspective. Since time is of importance, I wand to do this a quickly as I can, and yet keep the perspective right. So I take the image and place it in various spots on the wall until it looks right. Too far up the wall and he would be too big for the picture, and the opposite if I place the figure too far down the wall. Once placed where I want him, I trace the figure, and then place the cutout right next to where I will be painting, that way I can see the shadows and can paint with no problems.

So here is what I have so far.....
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Old 05-12-2003, 10:46 AM
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As I continue to paint, I go back to the town that I started and add more detail. The buildings are big enough that they will need constant checking to see if there are plenty of details for them. I believe if I look too long, I will over do that, so I am leaving the buildings and going back from time to time to see what may be missing. The next figure is one that I truly wanted to do! The cowboy by the campfire! I treated it with the same precision as the first figure, doing the cutting and placing and tracing. This figure was going to be closer, so I place it lower on the wall. Now my true test! Can I paint a horse that will satisfy the client? I have painted some horses, and also drawn few, but this was going to be displayed in a restaraunt that has equestrians comming and going. I was not about to paint a so-so horse! So I got out my anatomy book on horses, and some Western Horsman magazines (courtesy the client again) and started doing my homework. this is where you can't do too much homework folks! I can loose my next job if I don't get this right! Well after two days of going back and checking on my progress, I was finally approached by one of the locals who owned quite a few horses. She gave me a compliment befitting my work and then commented on a couple of points that she felt needed attending to. My thanks to her for her help. I quickly saw the errors, and now will attempt to fix them.

This whole mural is slated for a 3 week turnaround time. I basically put my trust in my past work that would be similar, but none has been this large. So I may have missed the mark at some point. Now what I must do is put in as many hours as possible to play catch up. There will be more 11 hour days for the next week to get my self on track. This may be my last post of the week until I can get a break and post again. I am writing these posts late at night so that I can get them ready to just copy and paste, thus limiting my time on the internet, thereby putting me back to painting.


So enjoy the progress so far, and I will post as soon as I can. Feel free to comment or ask questions. I may pop in for a look see, and respond as fast as I can!
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Old 05-12-2003, 02:33 PM
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I think this is going to be gorgous I LOVE the purple! You seam like you're such a fast worker! cant wait to see how it turns out
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Old 05-12-2003, 02:51 PM
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o_O!!!

I´m really impressed by your work, it´s must have been very difficult to paint all that o_O Congratulations*_*

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Old 05-12-2003, 05:32 PM
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wow this looks great i cant wait to see when your done i love the colours
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Old 05-13-2003, 01:38 AM
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I don't usually post in this forum but I just had to say NICE JOB!
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Old 05-14-2003, 01:57 PM
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Oh I love that... I;ve been thinking what kind of murals I will want in my house once I get it, and something like this would be wonderful....

I'll watch for more updates
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Old 05-15-2003, 01:32 PM
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Thanks all of you for the comments!

Well I have more to post today, but I am not able to bring up the pictures. I will try again tomorrow, so that you can see the updates. I am moving on to the next room though, so that is a plus!

Terry
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Old 05-15-2003, 04:53 PM
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Coooool!


Hey, maybe you could turn this thread into an article? It's got all the makings of one already. "How to Paint an Interior Mural", or something. There's some great info here, it'd be too bad if it got lost in the bowels of the WC system after a few weeks.
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Old 05-16-2003, 10:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by amo
Coooool!


Hey, maybe you could turn this thread into an article? It's got all the makings of one already. "How to Paint an Interior Mural", or something. There's some great info here, it'd be too bad if it got lost in the bowels of the WC system after a few weeks.


Thanks for the encouragement! I tried the article route once before, only to be dissapointed that I would have to re-write the whole thing to make it into an actual article. I find that I don't have the time to try to make this a correctly written piece. I know that it may help those in the future, but unless I get a moment where I can redo this for the purpose of an article, then this will have to do. Thanks for your confidence in my thread, continue to look for updates!

Terry
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Old 05-16-2003, 10:24 AM
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I have spent many hours on the mural thus far. It seems as my life is now just living in the desert on these walls! Not that I mind, but large murals like this seem to engulf me as I work in little areas at a time. I now have most of the background done, and at this point I am putting in objects that will help keep the mural interesting. It is hard to tell the client how much or how little they can interject with more items. I of course want to do a good job here, so my first words to the client is that I can't fill the whole wall with items of interest, because it would then be a clutter, and the focal points would be lost. This works well for me most of the time. This was one of those times where I had to really stress that to the client and the inquisitive relatives. Everyone wants to add something to my murals! What they don't realize is that I don't get paid for additions. So I basically let them know that though they may have a good idea, I have to stick to the plan, else there be extra charges. Don't get me wrong though, I do change things as needed, when the client and me sit down and discuss what can be done. And I do charge enough for small changes without inccuring more charges to the client. Any major changes and I do have to run by the additional costs before proceeding. With that out of the way, I know I can paint with ease of mind.

The biggest problem for me now will be the inclusion of the horses. I may have mentioned that this is horseman country, albiet small-time, but never the less, there are many who come in this restaruant that own horses and know them well. So I am being very carefull of my horse anatomy. The first figure is of a cowboy on a horse. I started with this particular figure first because it was a front view of the horse. I wanted to break in gently. I have been drawing all focal points on bristol board first, then cut them out and place them on the wall for perspective. As I have said in earlier posts, placement is a big key. But this was the first figure, and it was not as crucial as the next ones would be. Once I traced this figure onto the wall I then placed the cutout right next to the figure and started painting. I use paper bowls to do my mixing, and I keep the colors in various hues in the same bowl. At this point, I will be using burnt umber, and making it the basis for my horse figure. Here the trick will be to keep the figure warm on the one side, and cool on the other. Because of my intentional time of day confusion, sunset and early evening, I want to make sure that the figures don't look out of place. My solution it to mix burnt umber and cyan together, and then lighten that color with white for my backlit color. It works well for this particular project.
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Old 05-16-2003, 10:28 AM
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I have to keep in mind at all times that I am doing a job here. I sometimes forget that, and I wind up spending too much time trying to correct things that only matter to me. But I also know that at some point I need to be critical of my work to a point, and so that means standing back and taking a good look to see how things are comming together.


Now that I have the first figure done, and I feel quite comfortable, I await the comments. I move on to the next figure, a cowboy at a campfire, and work on that. I have people coming in at all times of the day looking on and making comments. So far they have been positive. That makes me feel good. I now can turn my attention to getting the other wall going and trying to finish the first wall.


As I work my way around the two walls, I have purpousely put a town in the corner. I have already laid out some of the basic colors, and have started the process of putting in the details. Again I am using blue tints in the back of the buildings that face away from the sunset. Where the sun hits the buildings I try to warm it up as much as possible. One thing that I have noticed already is that the surface of the wall makes it nearly impossible to get alot of detail, but I am going at it as best I can. Surprisingly I have put alot of detail into some of the buildings, even as I go into the distance. The trick with the buildings is that I want to show plenty of buildings but I am limited for space. So I cheat some on the correctness of the proportions. As I do this, it is apparent that I have made all the correct calculations, and the buildings don't look too dis-proportioned, and for that I am glad. While I am on the corner, I go ahead and work on the sky for the second wall. I want it to be covered well, and also I would like it dry as I come back to do the final skyline of the buildings.
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Old 05-16-2003, 10:29 AM
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And here are some more pics.
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Old 05-16-2003, 10:34 AM
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I should point out that I put a flat color on the buildings until I am ready to do the detail on the buidings themselves. This is just to keep the colors in check. The way the sun has set in the mural, allows me to play around with alot of colors at any rate, but I do want to make sure that what ever color I choose, it will blend nicely. I have been mixing yellow ochre and cyan together for the cooler sides of the buildings, unless I want to darken them up as I get closer to the viewer, then I add burnt umber. So for the next few days I am going to lay more color out on the buildings.


The next pic is of the camping cowboy, finished.
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