My Creative Process: Mural Making

Murals interrupt things…

Mural making is a major disruption of creative space… Always a choice, one can rent space for the project or one can make do with what one has. It comes down to finances and the profit margin. That being said, we chose to use the space available as the mural measures only eight by eight feet.

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A little crowded.


Preparing the support in any mural undertaking is the most crucial part of the enterprise. If the surface upon which one paints is not stable, the image will not last. One of the best supports is Crezon, a product used for highway signage. We chose half inch, good both sides. Good both sides means is a coat of sturdy brown paper seals the plywood both front and back. It leaves a nice smooth surface upon which to paint.

Support Preparation

Washing the area with TSP is the first step.  It removes any oily finger marks and general dirt. Even though the back side of the panel will be against a wall it still requires paint to slow inevitable deterioration. Using a good quality primer, we ready the surface for the two coats of exterior latex sealing the back and the edges.  Edges are more difficult in that they are exposed to the elements even if well painted. Eventually we will apply a silicon sealer to all exterior edges once the installation is done. Ideally a metal frame will complete the protection. The front side requires only one coat of primer for now.

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Gridded and numbered.

More prep

Another area of preparation is the fabric upon which we paint the image. A layer of plastic covers the table before applying the undercoat. This ensures quick and easy removal. The fabric binds with any wood surface once it is primed. Gesso enhances the primer coat . That is, we mix fifty percent good quality exterior primer with fifty percent gesso and then apply it to the fabric on both sides. Peeling the fabric from the plastic often leaves bits of loose paint here and there. These should be removed before painting the other side.

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Ready to cut.

Behind the Mural

A grid made of one by two inch boards supports the plywood boards. We secure the structure by tying it to the ceiling using hooks. Tape holds the fabric to the boards at the top. Small pieces of painters’ masking tape join one sheet of fabric against the other. To speed the operation a projector shines the image on the prepared surface. We trace or draw the projection in felt before painting begins.

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Fine balance.
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Hanging by a thread.


A numbered grid

As this mural will be a mosaic of small images painted by children we will grid, number and cut the fabric into five inch squares. The students will each have a square upon which they will create their own image respecting the value, colour and line. Once completed we will glue each piece into its place on the grid. The artists will execute some final touch ups before the unveiling.

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Cut up and ready to go.

A new series…

All this activity does not count in my estimations of creative work, that is, the hours I put in on my own creations. One of the challenges: ignoring the elephant in my space as I turn my attention to my new series “Sacred”; it opens in June at VASA. Check out all the upcoming shows in Events and Happenings. Even with a mural in my space life is still so good.


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