Saturday, January 5, 2013

41~ Mural 2012: Summary and Thoughts

mural montage
Mural Montage: Selected Shots of Mural for Children's Church Room by D.K. Pritchett

So... the mural is finished. Painting it was a learning experience. Overall, I was happy with how it went. I was able to draw most of it by free-handing and the painting went pretty fast. Some of the bits that worried me ~ the rooster, the ripples in the pond, the morning glories, the tonal values in the grass ~ were pretty easy. Some things were challenging and difficult ~ the bird, the banner, the bay window. The experience of painting it was exhilarating, but also, as it wore on, somewhat exhausting.

I was ready for this project. I'd painted large murals in my imagination, worked out some of the problems just by thinking it over. Overcoming the fear of agreeing to do, and actually beginning, such a large-scale project was half of the accomplishment of doing it. Keeping to a schedule (and having someone else dependent on that schedule) went a long way to getting it finished, too. The mountain landscape, stretching across such a long expanse, was somewhat daunting. The greatest worry was that it would be hard to keep the shadows consistent and make them define those large forms of the hills. I thought so much about how I would do it, that when it came to actually doing it, it went like clockwork. I'd already painted it in my mind so many times. The other sections could each be broken down into segments, so that each area was a little like doing a simple illustration or a backdrop, similar to those I had done for Cohutta Springs.

This particular mural theme is light and busy, in keeping with a children's room. Sometimes I think of painting a more cutting-edge mural: maybe a true trompe l'oeil motif on the exterior of a large building. Or, I think of exploring some mysterious theme in a large-scale work. But mural painting does have its drawbacks. The work is physically demanding. Climbing ladders is almost more than I can force myself to do ~ and balancing up there for any length of time, reaching out with a brush ~ is torturous, not to mention scary. (I get so focused on my painting. Once on another project, I forgot that I was standing on a small stepladder and simply stepped back into thin air. Suppose it had been a ten-foot ladder?)

There's a huge amount of prep work in painting a wall. Ladder climbing, scheduling, buying and mixing gallons and gallons of paint... those, too, are things to take into consideration. In the end, as exciting as it sounds to plan and carry out a mural on a big building, I'll have to leave huge exterior murals to other artists. Even this large expanse of interior wall was almost more than I had the patience to finish. My future murals, if any, may be limited to small rooms and accent areas.

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