Oooh I feel like I’ve only just warmed up after this job! It was cooold standing in that archway with the wind wooshing through. From my nice warm office on a sunny day, I thought it would be fun to share some of my process for this and the previous mural job at the Thai cafe. Being the sort of person I am, I feel the need to read all about a new technique before embarking on it, just to be sure I’m doing it right. And I’m not saying that’s a good thing – I’d love to be more impulsive and brave when it comes to this sort of thing, but something about making permanent marks on other people’s shiny white walls for money made me think I’d better prepare myself as well as humanly possible.
I spent a long time investigating what paints to use. For the Thai cafe I needed many colours and they had to be extra vibrant, and I didn’t dare try mix them myself in case I ran out and couldn’t mix the same colour again. I also knew I would need to be able to use markers for linework and outlines as well as brushes for large areas of flat colours. The internet helped me find this product called One4All by Molotow. I bought little refill bottles of 30ml in all sorts of delicious colours and a few empty markers of different sizes (that’s the cool thing with the refills – you can refill markers, as well as using the paint normally with brushes). I had tried them out before, drawing on the walls at my office space, and they worked great.
For both jobs, I started out by having a lovely chat with the clients, getting a feel for the site, hearing about what they had in mind, and what the reason was for commissioning a mural. For the Thai cafe, they wanted to stand out, do something a little different, and offer their customers an experience – and it had to be colourful, with a taste of Thailand. For the archway, it was a little more functional – the client (the lodge that owns the building) had been getting random doodles on the walls of this archway – and since it’s used daily by hundreds of members they couldn’t really ignore it. They came up with this ingenious idea – why not commission some art they actually do want to look at every day!
So I sketched and sketched, making changes back and forth with the clients, and once we were all happy, I created mockups in Photoshop of how the mural would look on-site. Then, down at the site, I projected the drawings using a short-throw projector, and traced the outline with pencil.
Then it was ‘just’ a case of painting it. Starting with the large areas of colour and the big flat brush, moving to more and more detail and finally using markers for the bits and pieces like grass and outlines. For the archway, I found it easier to use two different sized flat brushes, and of course things went a lot quicker with only one colour to worry about.
For the archway, it was important to make sure the work was protected from the wonderful Danish weather. Molotow’s matte spray varnish worked well for this, even though I really don’t have the nozzle-pressing hand muscles to be a real graffiti artist – ow!
Well I’m looking forward to next time I get to paint on someone else’s property, it’s quite a thrill!