Whether you are an artist, decorator or simply looking for an inexpensive way to enhance an area of a room, painting a wall can be fun, creative and satisfying.
This is also an inexpensive method of making a big impact with minimal cost.
There are a number of styles and methods to choose from and one need not be an artist to create a striking accent wall. Whatever the skill level, an aspiring artist can make a big splash on that quiet, unassuming space that cries out for colorful attention.
Prepare the Wall
Whatever method the artist uses, the wall must be prepared. It should be clean and if necessary, freshly painted. Take into consideration the surface texture of the wall. A very rough surface will necessitate a thinner consistency of paint, and images will need to be less detailed.
Conversely, if the surface is very high gloss, paint will not adhere well. In this case, the wall should be lightly sanded to accept the paint, or repainted.
Choosing the Paint
Water based interior paint can be used with artist’s acrylic paint. Interior house paint is inexpensive for large areas and is ready-to-paint with only brief mixing. Water based house paint and artist’s acrylic paint are similar, and acrylic paint can be mixed with the interior paint to create custom colors.
If many grimy fingers will lovingly fondle the mural, it may be wise to paint the finished wall with clear acrylic varnish for protection. This is far less intrusive than velvet ropes to separate the public from the artist’s latest masterpiece, and allows for occasional cleaning.
Silhouettes or Stylized Shapes
Chalk is a great drawing medium for walls. Not only is it readily accessible, it is inexpensive, erases easily and comes in many colors. Use chalk to draw the design, using different colors if desired to delineate areas that may be confusing.
If a figure sounds like a fun subject for the painted wall, have a subject pose in front of the wall. With dim lights, focus a bright light on the person, throwing his shadow directly on the wall. Place the subject and light at alternate distances to find the most pleasing silhouette. The artist then traces around the shadow with the chalk, creating an outline of the figure. Paint with a solid color, or add secondary colors after the first coat has dried.
The student can create uncomplicated leaves, flowers, butterflies or other simple shapes freehand. They can be copied from children’s coloring books, storybooks, or come directly from that best-of-all resource; the imagination. Chalk is great for this, as it erases with a cloth, and if necessary, the wall may be cleaned with a damp sponge.
For the severely drawing challenged, use a projector to put the images on the wall and trace the shapes with chalk.
If the artist wants to make repeated motifs, he can create stencils. Draw the design on thin acrylic sheets or cardboard and cut out with a craft knife. This reduces time and effort for making multiple images and gives uniformity to the design. Repetition of the same image in different colors, at different overlapping angles can make a dramatic statement. Kraft paper or newsprint could be used to make copies to tape up on the wall for compositional purposes. Then, simply put a few chalk marks where the different shapes go, and using the stencil, begin painting.
A New World with Murals
The artist may wish to use a wall as a great canvas to create a landscape, seascape or alternative interior. Create a fantasy view into another world that seems to blend into the existing space or expands that which is already there. Add a door opening on a lawn or a window complete with drapes. Perhaps a nice urn that never tumbles, filled with flowers that never fade, on a shelf that never needs dusting would perk up a narrow wall next to an entryway.
If the student is short on drawing skills in jumbo dimensions, a grid work can be used to transfer the original sketch onto the wall. The artist would draw his creation on a sheet of paper with a ratio similar to the wall, and divide it into a grid of lines equally spaced both horizontally and vertically. Using the same ratio, the student then draws chalk lines on the wall. The student now has a grid that is the same shape as the paper sketch, only much larger. He can begin to draw his sketch into the squares on the wall. This is more time consuming than using an overhead projector or drawing freehand, but it is another option an artist has to get his design on the wall.
At this point, the artist will begin painting as he would on a canvas. It is important to prepare adequate amounts of paint for large areas if consistency in color is required. Paint can be prepared in containers with plastic lids to ensure they will remain usable for the duration of the project.
When the painting is complete and thoroughly dry, it should be painted with a matte finish varnish for protection. Use matte rather than gloss finish, as the glare from lighting could cause viewing problems.
Painting a decorative wall is something anyone can accomplish with a little patience and paint.
Whether a few whimsical flower shapes or an intricate three-dimensional forest, you can put your creative juices to work and have a room that is truly one of a kind.
Make a personal statement that is not soon forgotten.