The purpose of this exercise was to understand the production issues of working ‘big’. For me the objective was to carry out a proof-of-concept in order to understand the processes involved in preparing artwork, preparing the site, transferring artwork to the walls at the right scale and painting a mural, so that in the future I’d have the confidence to create a mural ‘for real’ in response to a client brief.
Key words from the brief:
Option 3 – Panoramic painting
Produce a painted panorama landscape
Producing a wall mural
Go as large as you are able to go and incorporate as much information from your landscape as you can
Use what you have available to you, a wall (if this is available to you)
Think about how you will display it. Will it be a standing object which a viewer can step into? Will it be rolled? Will it show a full 360 degrees?
Creating a painted mural – this is a creative risk because:
- I’ve never scaled up a drawing to such a large size
- I’ve never worked at such a large scale
- I don’t know how the materials I use will work on a wall or what they’ll be like working so large
A plan for the work
- Prepare the artwork to fit the specific dimensions of the location at a usable scale. The artwork will reuse elements from 4.10 Street art.
- Work out what colours are required to do the painting and buy these.
- Prepare the walls – clear the room and paint two coats of base colour.
- Mark up a grid on the wall in chalk.
- Transfer the artwork to the wall.
- Apply a coat of white emulsion under the areas that will receive colour.
- Add colour.
- Add black line art.
- Add highlights.
Recording the process
I decided to use video to document the process. I noticed that a number of mural artists used this to great effect; there is a strong narrative watching a mural unravel and listening to the experience and challenges of the artist.
I decided to try creating a number of 1-minute videos to post on Instagram, (this is the limit set for videos that appear in your timeline), every other day in order to build a story and gauge a response. These are viewable below.
Prepare the artwork
I took the orchid artwork I’d produced in 4.10 Street art and rejigged it to work as two seperate images at the right scale. The 4 x 3 grid was added to support the transfer and scale-up of the artwork onto the walls.
Colour match and buy materials
I created the original design using colours from a range of paints called Molotow One4all acrylics. This was based on advice from a mural artist on YouTube. Unfortunately the Molotow paints were too expensive to buy for a prototype so I decided to buy just the black for outlining, and cheaper acrylic paints for the other colours.
My shopping list:
- Molotow One4all ‘Signal black’ for outlining
- 1 x Molotow refillable pen
- 1 x sable brush
- Liquitex acrylic paints:
- Brilliant yellow green
- Fluorescent yellow
- Brilliant purple
- Pyrrole orange
- Cadmium free orange
- Cerulean blue hue
- Brilliant blue
- Fluorescent blue
- Light blue permanent
- Quinacridone magenta
When I got the the art suppliers I discovered that the colour swatch didn’t exactly match what was in the tubes, so I had to make some adjustments to my original shopping list.
Prepare the walls
I bought some cheap wall emulsion that matched the green base colour, and after clearing the room and masking the edges, I applied two coats.
Adding the grid
I added a 4 x 3 grid using chalk and a metre long wooden ruler.
Transfer the artwork to the wall
I used a Molotow refillable pen to draw up the foreground elements directly onto the wall. I thought this would give a more authentic less fussy feel and was it quite exhilarating to know that using the black acrylic pen meant that I couldn’t make a mistake.
The background elements were chalked-up and then overpainted.
Apply a coat of white emulsion under the areas that will receive colour
This was a recommendation I took from a mural artist on youtube, and it was definitely the right thing to do because it gave the foreground colours more punch.
Add colour and outline
The three Instagram videos capture the process of applying colour and adding outline.
Photographs of the final work:
- The overall dimensions of the mural was 1.8 x 5 metres.
- The cost of materials to complete the mural was approx. £90.
- It took 6-days to complete painting the mural from start to finish, working an average of 9-hours a day. This was double what I’d anticipated.
What went well
- Following through the production process has given me the knowledge and confidence to take on a mural as a client brief.
- I think the end result is successful and the translation and scaling-up worked well.
- The use of video to document the process was an interesting process, as was posting the series progressively onto Instagram. I figured out the audio editing features in Adobe Premiere in this series of videos which was a step forward.
- The Molotow black paint and sable brushes allowed me to create a really expressive line with fairly well controlled weight.
- I really like the idea of the lazy grid (see youtube video below), but felt for this particular design it would have required too much overpainting to get rid of the doodles. This is definitely one to use later though.
Creative risks reflection
I set myself three creative risks:
I’ve never scaled up a drawing to such a large size
The scale-up was more straight forward than I thought. I was conscious that the scale-up and transfer process was essentially a ‘copy’, whereas it would be interesting to use the design as more of a reference and allow myself more creative freedom in working directly onto the wall.
I discovered that line weights don’t necessarily transfer ‘up’; some of the black outlines on the murals felt a bit ‘clunky’.
I have never worked at such a large scale
The main challenges for me were the physical challenge of working so large. I got neck ache after painting for a number of hours, but overall it was very enjoyable and I lost myself in the process.
I wasn’t really sure how to paint at large scale. Colour application, brush size, paint concentration and colour blending were all challenges to overcome.
I don’t know how the materials I use will work on a wall or what they’ll be like working so large
I don’t think Liquitex acrylic paint was the right choice of material because it it required a couple of coats, even when used undiluted. This meant the painting took more time to complete.
I really liked the feel of the Molatow One4all acrylic (I used this for the black outlining). I think for a client brief it would be more cost effective with better results if I’d spent the additional budget up-front on using all Molatow One4all acrylic paints.