Friday, December 31, 2010

so you want to paint a mural...part 1

(has nothing to do with anything, but I made it and its cute)

Ok my last mural related post was a bit harsh....I SHOULD have said I am a mural grump when I have to do a mural for someone else's project/idea (aka doing the work for them). I obviously love murals and think they are a really interesting and important part of understanding our visual society.

I just think people often get into mural projects not really knowing/understanding the amount of work/details involved to make a good looking, long lasting mural. After working on 9 murals I've complied a list of questions to consider and hints to take advantage of so mural making is a smoother process. So let's say, even after my last dream crushing post, that you still want to paint a mural, or you are in a situation where you HAVE to paint a mural and you just can't say no. I thought it would be helpful to share what I have learned about the mural making process so that some of my struggles could possibly help make your project more enjoyable.

To make this info easier to digest and this post not into a book I'm going to break it into 4 parts.
*Part 1 : Indoor non permanent murals (prep and materials)
*Part 2. Indoor permanent murals (prep and materials)
*Part 3. Outdoor murals (prep and materials)
*Part 4. Mural concept and image creation: from idea to the wall

**Disclaimer** These are just my experiences, ideas, feelings, thoughts. I am not claiming that I know everything or even the best way to do things. This is simply what I have found to work/not work for me.

Part 1. The indoor non permanent mural
Whew baby, this is the way to go in my opinion. Non permanent murals offer you a lot of flexibility in size,how long you work on a mural, how many people work on it, where it can be located and overall cost. I also find it is easier to get permission to do a non permanent mural than a permanent one.

Before you choose your material consider your budget, your location, how long you want the mural to be up and how you will attach the mural to the wall. The aspect of attaching the mural to the wall is a major issue. Don't paint a heavy plywood mural only to discover you can't drill into the wall with sturdy enough crews to hold it. If you want light and movable go with canvas, if you want sturdy and more permanent go with plywood.

Let's choose your material to paint on.
*If you have a LOT of money you can get large pre-stretched canvases. I have always worked in low income schools/programs so this has not been an option.
*I have learned many school art supply catalogs sell large (about 10 ft x 4 or 6ft) canvas (not on wood) with corner grommets. These run between $40 and $80 depending on the size and some are already primed. If you are on a really tight budget (as I am)...
* Head over to Home depot or Lows and go to the painting drop cloth section. There you will find large pieces of canvas for dirt cheap. Like 15' x 20' for less than $40 and 6' x 5' for about $15. I like to get these and either put in my own corner grommets or make some functional stretcher bars with your coworkers left over wood from building projects and a staple gun. OR we can go really, really low cost and
*get sheets of plywood. There is no reason you can't make a multi panel image to have a larger size. You can get your wood at the hardware store OR if you have an IKEA around head over there and go to the scratch and dent section. There you can buy the very large sheets of plywood they use to ship their products for about $2 a sheet. Yes $2 for a 8' x 6' piece of wood.


Now you have the material you are going to paint on. This would be a good time to decided if you want to break your "canvas/wood" into smaller parts so you can have students work on one section of a mural at a time, or put different parts on each work table or make your mural easier to store.

Now let's prime that painting surface. I think it is always worth going this extra step so your colors are brighter and your finished image is sharper. You can use the cheep white paint from the store, often I get the stuff from Big Lots OR I just ask around for white paint from my coworkers homes. I can always get white paint donated.
!!!!Make sure it is acrylic based; NOT enamel based or oil based paint!!!!


After this you can use any acrylic paint to create your image. But once again NO enamel or oil based paint, especially if you live in a humid area.

Next post is permanent indoor murals.

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