Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Anatomy of a Mural, week one...

I was recently commissioned to do a mural 
by new homeowners
who wanted to add memories of their
600 acre Colorado ranch into their new home in 
Rancho Santa Fe California.

We started with a 22 foot wall,
a scale drawing and lots of paint and brushes.

Many ingredients go into building a mural...
Let's start with help...

Being a large wall, it's really nice to have another artist to work with, 
toss around ideas and get the job done in a timely manner.

Though it can be ricky asking another artist to join in on the mural fun ...
not so with my friend Carole Mayne.

Our styles compliment each other, along with mutual admiration...
did I mention Carole is FABULOUS at  painting flowers!
there were many flowers going into this mural,
as the home owner spent long hours planting 
flowers on her Colorado ranch.

Here are examples of Carole's original oil paintings of flowers,

visual aids are a must.
Fortunately, the home owners provided us with many photos, 
stories and details of the ranch to work with.
We could clearly see why they fell in love with and 
sadly left this beauty behind.

So let's get down to it...
or up to it on scaffolding.
Scaffold was a must for ease of moving around 
in the clouds and mountain tops...
and it came in handy as a work bench
once we worked our way down the wall .

Step one...
we started griding out the wall and sketching in our scene
with water color pencils...
they just melt into the paint and don't leave pencil marks.

Step two...
once the drawing lines are in, we started doing 
value washes to determine our darks and lights
and the planned depth of the scene.

Step three...
start adding in the  color!
Once we got our sky in with graded blues
and fluffy colorful clouds, we were able to start adding in color 
to the distant mountains and work our way forward.

We were originally only going to do the large 22 foot wall, 
though in the planning stages we all decided the seating alcove to the left
needed to be added in to the mural plan to give a complete surround of the scene.

We all agree...
that was a very good decision!

Carole painting in shadows and grass 
in the seating alcove.

This was the end of our first week.
We got most of the environment, mountains, meadows, wild flowers, 
grass, rocks...and sooooo many pine trees, Spruce & Ponderosa Pines.

There are many photos and steps I'm leaving out here...way too many to share, though this is a good idea of what went into making this scene come to life.

Next post will share some of the detail we 
brought into the scene on week two...
it's in the details!
Visit it HERE

See you there!


  1. What a project-- amazingly beautiful!

    1. Thank you so much for the comment...wish I knew who this was from so I could thank you more personally. I know its not easy when anonymous is your only choice...maybe sign your name so I can know. Thank you for the comment, they are always appreciated.

  2. I just love this story! The mural tells it all!

    1. Thank you was so fun to work on with Carole! There is still a part two coming up in the next day or two...the local fires put a hiccup in my posting! Thank you for commenting.


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