Commissioned Mural: Process + Technique

I had the incredible fortune to create this for an absolute dream client. They wanted an ethereal landscape with blue jays and I couldn’t wait to deliver.

There was one small problem- we were (and are still) keeping socially distanced and this was for an interior. What do we do?? The problem solver in me instantly got to work. One main issue was that we didn’t have any wall space, so whatever I used had to be strong enough to paint against. I considered masonite panels, but that would have been incredibly heavy to schlep up the stairs- they would have been my first choice, otherwise. Instead, I looked to our local office supply stores and found some lightweight foam core in large sheet sizes and ready for curbside pickup the same day. (Instantly flashed back to my jewelry trade show days, handling giant stacks of the largest foam core sheets for the walls in my booth. Shudder.)

After a wistful “see you later” to our books, I assembled the foam core sheets and clipped/taped the canvas to them.

My tender hearted little helper felt that it was necessary to comfort Herbert about all the changes that were happening in the living room.

He was really only concerned about the lack of pets while I was busy with the canvas.

Soon after, I got to work. I began by sketching out the shapes with a pencil and once I had all the areas blocked in, switched to my usual red hue for developing the birds, the trees, and the branch. It’s my favorite base color because of the way it peeks through after layering blues and greens. I find that large fields of color become more interesting and the later colors are more vibrant. The general shapes are also still somewhat visible, as I continue to layer on top of my painted sketch phase.

I had a painting teacher that taught us to use yellow ochre as the base color for our paintings- we were looking at Vermeer as inspiration. My professor was a fantastic teacher and painter, so I didn’t even consider changing it up when I worked on assignments outside this class, despite the fact that my own style was very different from the Dutch masters. The work never looked right so I was convinced that it was my own lack of ability that caused me to struggle so much. Turns out, my first step was wrong so I ended up battling the entire painting the whole way through.

There’s probably a metaphor in there somewhere.

Anyway, on to the mural!

The bird is about 2.5 feet in diameter, the largest one I’ve painted thus far. It was too much fun for it to be the last.

Here’s the finish.

Handpainted Gold

I’ve been on the lookout for the perfect gold paint for embellishing my prints. I tried a few reputable acrylic brands and struggled to get that beautiful, opaque liquid gold look. I think their main purpose was to add a glittery quality or a light sheen to other colors but I wanted more.

It was only when I stopped looking that finally found the holy grail of gold paint. Isn’t that just always the way? Holbein’s metallic gouaches are exactly what I’ve been looking for. They mix easily (I custom mixed the shade of gold here) and after adding a bit of water until the consistency was like melted ice cream, the coverage is still amazing.

Looking forward to trying more acrylic gouaches brands to see how they stack against Holbein. Any suggestions?