After doing a large wall mural in my studio, oh how fun it was, I learned a lot about painting that large.
First off…. it’s bigger than you think! LOL. I was used to painting large on canvas, it’s my preferred way to paint, but the largeness of a wall is a whole different large. I was surprised at how taxing it was after a few hours of going at it. I do not plan ahead with my designs because they’re all abstract and the geometric shapes come out of the opportunities created while working, so that also created an interesting mind taxation because there were SOOO many large and small holes or crevices to fill. And I like large and small details so there’s something new to see at different distances.
It’s physically more taxing because with a wall your having to bend, fold, stretch, reach etc. to get all the high and low places that need to be covered. For me, I worked better doing 3-4 hours at a time and taking breaks. I had a lot of time too and it was in my home, so I stretched it out over about 4 weeks or so to finish the entire wall. This doesn’t necessarily have to take that long as total hours were around 55-60 hours, but I stretched it out because I could and because I have some neck and back issues already that I didn’t want to flare up.
Second, plan what you can and leave room for the creativity to blossom. So, I said I don’t plan and that’s pretty much true but one thing I try to loosely plan is my colors. And that’s what I did with my mural. I had an idea that I wanted the colors to be calming and soothing like being underwater in the sea. Cool blues and greens. As I went along, I wondered if I wanted some brighter colors in there so I’d add a splash or orange or magenta as I went, knowing I can just cover it up. The beauty of acrylics! If you want to know why I paint with acrylics you can check out my post about painting with acrylics HERE. I realized that I liked my original plan of all cool colors and sea type vibe, but I did add some purple. I used a lot of ultramarine blue which when lightened has a very blue-purple feel to it so as I went up I decided to lighten the look and feel like it was reaching towards the moon and I made a lovely purple with ultramarine blue, phthalo red and white…and maybe another color but that’s all I remember.
Third, use thin paint. I normally don’t mind some thicker spots and textures on my canvas paintings as it gives the surface and overall piece a unique look and makes it more interesting to look at. But for a wall, you want thin! I used mainly Blickrylic student acrylic paint. It’s actually pretty good and very inexpensive. I didn’t think to use wall paint because I’m so used to buying acrylics from Blicks or Jerrys’. I know the names of the colors I like and how to mix them. I had some older paint too that I thought I’d use up so I could get rid of it. Wrong decision but it worked out fine. Some of the older paint was heavy body paint so thick and pasty. Great for impasto work. I added water and some slow dry blending medium and it still didn’t thin well. I added airbrush medium and it still didn’t thin well. Next time I just won’t use a thick paint at all but that was really only for one color I had that issues. The main colors were all from the Blickrylic student acrylic paints. They worked great. They were pretty thin already but with adding just a hint of water or airbrush medium they got to a lovely flowing viscosity. This works so much better on walls then an impasto kind of paint and especially for if you want to paint over the mural in the future. So, yes getting wall paint would also make for a good option as it’s already the right consistency but I like the acrylics ‘I know’ better for now.
And lastly, have fun! I did not anticipate how much work it was going to be, but I was smiling and laughing (pretty much) the whole time. It really is a lot of fun if you love to paint and don’t mind making mistakes and just keeping going. The payoff is tremendous. I absolutely love walking into my studio and seeing that wall mural. I love it! It makes me so happy every time. And when I do Yoga in there, I just feel so calm and serene and I get lost in the shapes and it just brings a big smile to my face. So, do it! If you’re thinking of doing it, just do it! It’s really not that expensive and it’s a fun and fulfilling project.
Ok another lastly, the last thing I’d say is prep your surface first. If you’re wall paint is old the walls may be dirty or there’s a glossy paint on your walls your gonna wanna wipe them down and put on a primer first. Otherwise your new paint won’t adhere as well. A white primer is what I used but if you don’t want white you could color your primer also. This is something you can get at your local hardware store or my affiliate link above.
If you want to see my whole process from start to finish you can check out pics and videos on my Instagram @laurenkarpinski or Pinterest @abstractlaurenkarpinski or my YouTube @laurenkarpinski. Or just go to my Behind the Scenes page and link from there. If you want a mural, just shoot me an email!
Thanks for reading and I’d love to hear your thoughts. Would you tackle a wall mural? Why or why not? Or if you did, I’d love to see!
From my heart to yours,
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