Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Brand New Child's Room: Painting An Undersea Mural

My blank 'canvas'.
Back in November, a friend of my daughter asked me to paint a mural for her 20-month-old son's bedroom. The house, located in Brooklyn, was in the process of being totally refurbished by the family of the young boy and thusly, the walls were new, smooth and freshly painted a bright blue that would serve as the backdrop for the marine life I would be painting. The carpet wasn't installed yet and even though I masked the bare floor anyway, it was nice to know that a small slippage of paint wouldn't hurt anything new.

The client asked specifically for an octopus, a crab, a turtle and a starfish, the rest would be up to me and the challenge was finding enough friendly, colorful looking fish to fill out two walls of the room.

Being an optimist, I originally estimated the job as taking two, possibly three days. I was so wrong! The extra days (seven in all) were mostly due to the intensity of the blue wall color. While it was nice to have the background in place, I had to paint the fish two and three times over to cover the color even after using 'kill' paint.

An early sketch.
I bordered the lower edge of the walls with a sandy bottom that had exotic (and very imaginary) plant life growing there. I placed the starfish in the sand and planted a large clam shell with a bright and happy crab hiding inside. Later some shells and sea horses were stenciled on top to give it a rich and lush finish.

On the main wall, the octopus became the mural's focal point and would be centered over the little boy's bed so I had to make him really friendly looking! I added a dolphin straddling the two walls in the corner of the room and lots of schools of fish to fill it out.

In the end I added spatter paint to give the mural movement and depth. I suppose I got a bit carried away, the client was a bit taken aback by the amount of 'bubbles'. I had to make another trip back to de-bubble the mural a bit.

A not so crabby crab.
It was great fun and I admit I had new found respect for Michelangelo who painted the Sistine Chapel while on his back over several years. It was hard enough to paint standing up and my job certainly took a lot less time that his masterpiece.

Check out the results...would love to hear your comments!

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