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How-To: Interior Mural Project

 

CACY’S CORNER
An Interior Mural Project

by Michael Cacy

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Being an illustrator, the prospect of working at mural scale is more than just a little scary to me. “Large,” to me, is something like 30″ x 40″, which is as large as most illustration board comes off the shelf. However, this week I’m putting the finishing touches on the first of two murals that I am creating for an interior retail space in Bermuda–ninety-two square feet of mural to be exact, and that’s just the first one, four feet by approximately twenty-three feet. For you artists who paint large exterior murals, this would be a piece of cake, but that’s an awfully large illustration for me–not to mention, quite a departure from my usual daily routine.

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Having not painted this large in years, it has been a learning experience…and, I must admit, mighty satisfying to see the concept take shape this large. I decided to write a little about my project for this installment of “Cacy’s Corner” because I discovered some things along the way that might be of use to you should you ever decide to tackle a project like this.

I began the murals just as I would any other illustration, preparing my drawings at a comfortable scale and faxing them off to my client for approval. Once everyone was happy, I projected the preliminary composite drawing (in photo copied sections) up to full scale using an Artograph Super Prism.

I began the murals just as I would any other illustration, preparing my drawings at a comfortable scale and faxing them off to my client for approval. Once everyone was happy, I projected the preliminary composite drawing (in photo copied sections) up to full scale using an Artograph Super Prism.

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I procured a stack of 4′ x 8′ panels from a local plastics supplier. I began by laying down a coat of gesso, but soon discovered that the gesso wasn’t necessary. In fact, for the style of painting that this project called for (a combination of brush painting and airbrush), the raw surface of the Gatorfoam® was actually a better ground than the gesso.

Much of my underpainting was executed in Holbein Acryla Gouache and Palmer black gesso (which were brush painted) and a smattering of permanent markers. For the airbrush portion of the job, I used a variety of airbrush acrylics, including Dr. Martin’s Spectralite, Createx, and others, but the bulk of the surface was painted with Com-Art Opaques and Com-Art Transparent airbrush acrylics applied with an Iwata HP-C, Eclipse, and two relatively new trigger guns from Iwata, the RG-3 and the LPH-50. Virtually every medium I threw at the Gatorboard adhered well and looked great. Subtractive techniques that we commonly use on cold press illustration board (like scraping paint away with a blade, erasing, and grinding) worked well on the Gatorboard, allowing me to manipulate the paint on the surface.

To meet my deadline, I had to call in some of my illustrator and designer pals to help out. A.D. Cook, Raphael Schnepf, Janis Emerson, John Siebel, and even a fabric artist visiting from India painted on this mural with me, and we all agreed that the Gatorfoam® is an amazing surface to paint on.

Masking was done with 3M masking tape and Frisk’s Canvas Mask. Cutting masks on the hard Gatorboard surface was easy, forgiving (even when contours were masked and cut more than once), and no paint was lifted when the masks were removed. Once the painting is completed, the mural panels will be shot with a clear protective coating.

Now, to get this project packed up and out of here!.

Reprinted with permission from Airbrush Action magazine.

 

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