A 360 Degree Mural

The making of a 360 degree mural

In 2006 I was in kind of a home improvement kick.
One idea I had was to do something with this hallway/vestibule/wasted space in my house. There was no way any furniture was ever going into this space, so I figured this meant a blank canvas no one can block. The only thing was that the space was small and had five doorways leading out of it. This pretty much determined that any design would have to be very specific to the space. It meant that there would need to be a lot of insinuation that made your mind fill in the blanks. Basically there was little space to put paint on, but the space was small, so that little bit of paint needed to make your brain think about big spaces. Of course I could have made it claustrophobic on purpose, but I wanted something with mass appeal and not just something very personal or artsy.

After some thought I decided that since space was limited I should use just about all of it that was available including the ceiling, but I did decide to stop short of the floor by using a chair rail. This was partially because I thought the image might be overwhelming and it might frustrate the viewer that they cannot back away further as well as simply because the wall below waist level seemed more likely to suffer bumps and scrapes.

Hallway Mural Panoramic Photo

I did some rough sketches, but quickly figured out that working from finished drawings like I normally do just wasn't working for me. Even with all of the measurements correct in the drawings I did on paper they inevitably looked very different on the walls, so eventually I just used rough sketches and photo reference and went at it right on the walls with a pencil. I had been a little freaked out when I realized my usual technique wasn't going to get it, but once I started drawing on the walls most everything went smoothly.

Since I had done a mural with a Mediterranean theme on the outside patio I thought something with a Caribbean theme would be great for indoors. It was helpful that I had actually seen some of the Caribbean in person (unlike the Med.), and I have always been a big fan of N.C. Wyeth and that played a part as well. I wanted something with a feel of divine isolation. Granted, the mountains and rocks are over the top in grandiosity for anything I've seen in the Caribbean, but it isn't meant to be some kind of geographic document.

I used all acrylic paint and started from dark to light with a one color underpainting in the classical style of the old masters. I added color slowly, sticking to the dark to light method. I left the sky till last which required I use some imagination, but I wanted some subtle fades in the sky that would require me to paint wet paint into wet paint over large areas quickly before they dried.

If I recall correctly the painting took about two weeks. I did the preceding drywall repair and the subsequent wood trim and it's hard to look back and view the project as just the mural.

I am very satisfied with the end result. It did take a rather dull space and make it cheerful. It increased the resale value of my home. It adds just a little bit to every day I walk through that space. That's quiet an accomplishment for just some acrylic paint on some drywall.