Sometimes I believe I am one of the luckiest people on the planet. I get to work on such interesting projects in fantastic environments. For instance, I was asked recently to come up with a mural design for a small basement courtyard in a contemporary villa facing the marvellous Obidos Lagoon on Portugal’s Silver Coast.
I seized the opportunity because I felt I was one step ahead of the game in terms of design ideas. This was due to me having intricate knowledge of the villa gained through shooting a set of promotional photographs for the owner to advertise the villa for international renters.
Therefore, I knew the house, the decoration and the layout. So coming up with a few concepts was not a problem.
The location of the mural project was a small basement courtyard. It was interesting to me not least because of its 6 metre long curved wall which was painted in a solid rusty red oxide colour. It was an open invitation for my itching fingers and hungry eyes because it presented itself as a screen waiting for an idea to be projected on it. So I got to work and generated several concepts and sent them off and awaited a response. In no time at all I got the answer I really wanted.
The chosen design was taken from a detail (interpreted in a contemporary semi abstract style) from a section of a painting of mine which has also been used as a wine label. This picture has been printed on thousands of bottles and they have been sent out all over Europe. The artwork had already been chosen by Cortem Wines a local medal winning organic vineyard to front their Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot red wine.One particular miniscule area of the original painting fascinated me. If I blew this detail up to cover a 6 metre wide mural I had something exciting to work with. I also liked the relationship of local subject matter being vine leaves and similarly coloured artwork already hanging in the holiday villa. They seemed perfectly compatible so I cracked on so I could scale up for the mural.
One of the first things you need to assess when painting a mural is the condition of the surface to be painted. Luckily this curved wall had a good surface which bonded well to the render. If you get loose patches a wire brush to remove loose paint and filler will be required to plug any cracks or holes. Thankfully, the wall was in good shape, out of direct sunlight and damp free.A good brush over to remove critters and bugs is essential, as is a good wash over with a detergent to remove grease and grime. Let the wall dry out before you start.
The next stage was transferring the design to the walls, I used a grid on the wall with the same aspect ratio as my print. This design was in near perfect scale to the aspect ratio of the wall.After the design was applied in paint it was time to begin applying some colour. Because the mural was 2.4m tall it was necessary for me to use some steps. This meant starting at the top and working down. The reason for this is you don’t want to be leaning steps over your wet paint while working so progressing from top down will prevent this as long as your paint stays above the steps.
Working this methodically can be less creative but if you have planned your mural sufficiently beforehand this will not prove a problem.I believe when doing any sort of painting it is important to make a good range of marks. The build up of patternation makes for a lot more depth and visual interest. It is also good sense to study your project design and define clearly as many colours as you can. Then try to find as many matches as you can off the shelf and get the remainder specially mixed. This cuts down the need for mixing too many colours on-site and ensures colour mix consistency. Good quality exterior wall paints were used for the project these should be durable and resistant to damp, sun and cracking.
Overall I am very pleased with the job not least because it took a sombre basement courtyard and livened the whole area up with images of local aspects of viniculture. I love the fact that the mural has the integrity of starting life as a painting, then evolving into international label advertising and finally, the related image grew massively to become a 6m wide wall mural. Fabulous fun!