Painting a Child’s Wall Mural
Although mural painting sounds as if it must demand artistic expertise, if you take a careful step-by-step approach you will find that attractive and successful results are well within your reach. Very complex scenes, as well as trompe l’oeil — the height of decorative painting, aiming literally to ‘deceive the eye’ — do require great skill. But simpler figurative or geometric designs are easy to do and make particularly cheerful solutions for children’s rooms.
Preparing the Surface
The wall should be in good condition: smooth, clean and non-absorbent. Prepare by painting on an even base colour. Gloss does not make a suitable base for mural painting; emulsion (latex) is acceptable, but matt or mid-sheen oil-based paint is best.
Transferring the Design
The method shown here involves drawing a grid over the original picture, constructing to scale a larger grid on the wall, and then transferring the design square by square. The size of the grid’s squares over those of your original illustration will depend on the complexity of the design. If it is very intricate, you will need a grid of 1cm/ /tin squares; if it is simple, the grid can have up to 5cm/2in squares.
An alternative method is to use a slide as your reference: project the image onto the wall and draw around the outlines. In either case, however, you will have to establish the horizontal and vertical outlines of the mural by using a plumb line and spirit level.
Emulsion (latex) paint or interior resin-based paint is the best choice for the beginner. You can use up leftovers from previous decorating jobs, sampler pots, and artists’ colours for small areas and for tinting emulsion. You do not have to buy all the colours you need: basic shades can be mixed together to make intermediate tones. Remember to mix up enough for all the areas that are to be done in a particular colour — it is difficult to duplicate a shade if you have to remix.
• drawing materials
• ruler and setsquare (T-square)
• chalk or charcoal
• plumb line and spirit level (carpenter’s level)
• paint containers
• selection of brushes
• stepladder, if necessary
• felt-tip pen for outlining
• clear matt polyurethane
1. Draw grid over original picture using ruler and setsquare. Label the grid with numbers and 1etters.
2. Transfer the outer lines onto the wall, using a plumb line for the verticals and a spirit 1evel (carpenter’s level) for the horizontals. Draw in lines with 1ight-coloured chalk or charcoal.
3. Draw grid on wall, using a strip of card marked with grid squares. Use chalk or charcoal.
4. Mark the design on the wall, transferring it one square at a time from your design. Pin the original to the wall so you can refer to it constantly. Use a cloth to rub out incorrect 1ines.
5. Paint in areas of colour, working if possible from the top down. Complete larger areas first, one colour at a time, then paint details. Do not paint a second area adjoining a first unti1 the paint on the first has dried. Some colours may need two coats. Highlights or special effects, such as stippling or shading, should be added last.
6. For a sharp crisp finish, outline in black, using a fine brush and ink or a felt-tip marker. Test the ink first to make sure it wil1 not run when theis applied.
7. Allow the mural to dry thoroughly, then wipe off the chalked grid lines using a damp cloth.
8. Sea1 with matt polyurethaneor, if you used emulsion (latex) paint, emulsion glaze.
If you make a mistake, paint over the area with the background colour and leave it to dry. Then paint over again in the correct colour(s).