Sunday, August 26, 2012

Tips on Painting Interior Murals & Decorative Wall Art for Beginners

This year at the school where I teach, I was moved into a new classroom that has been neglected of interior decorating.  So before school started, I began working on small decorative murals to create a cozy and welcoming environment.  I did not want to make things too busy, so I chose to paint calm and peaceful imagery like trees, ponds and fish.  I will post the finish product as soon as I get the opportunity.  It was a really great experience and a nice change from the kind of work I do in the studio.  If you are interested in painting murals, but have never done it before, I have some tips for beginners after the following images.
Trees are great for beginners since there are so many styles that you can get away with, you can be inventive and you don't have to get terribly detailed to make a statement.  This wall is in the cleaning area of the studio.
I painted some very basic decorative art in the children's wash station.

If you are a painter but have never experienced painting murals and you are interested, just go for it!  You can always paint over something with some interior paint if you mess up, no biggy.  My tips are in no particular order and if you are lost on anything, please ask questions.

  • Collect interior wall paints that you have used in your own home as they work great as a base for any painting, especially to fill big spaces up like tree trunks, water and sky scenes.  
  • Buy small sample paints of fun colors you want to experiment wtih at your local home improvement retailer store.  These little samples go a long way.  For example, you can do washes to help the paint to cover large areas.  If you don't want to wait for an employee to mix the colors for you, some paint brands like Martha and Valspar sell cute little samples to experiment with.  Here is a link to show what you should look for.Paint Samples  
  • Save large brushes that you use for interior/exterior painting, even if they are beat up.  Old brushes can be good to create texture in bushes, flower patches in a distance, etc.
  • You may want to start small and simple in case you realize that it is more time consuming than you thought (which has happened to me too many times-- I never learn!)
  • Surf the web and google images of interior wall art, modern art, and decorative art ideas if you don't know where to begin.
  • Sketch designs on paper and/or start drawing directly on the wall with a light colored pencil.  If you mess up, don't worry about the pencil marks until later. I don't use led pencils for this part, because I have run into certain paints or washes that seem to have a harder time covering up pencil lines, but typically it's not a big deal if you are drawing lightly.
  • Have rags handy as it may be the best tool for blending paints.  Rags work good for washes and textures.  Old t-shirts, jeans, anything with texture (as long as it is not a material that contains too much fuzz or lint that could come off onto the wall while you are painting, and if you aren't sure test it out first).  You can dip a rag in water, ring it out and dip a little into the interior wall paint to create a nice base wash that could represent clouds, water, sky, or just to add some depth to a wall.  You might want to rub in random circular motions for clouds, bunch up and dab areas to create bushes or rocky textures, and wipe horizontally to create a soft sky.  Have a dry rag handy to wipe away any areas where the paint looks too thick. You may also want to use a sponge or a frayed paint brush to create different textures.  
  • Do not spend much time in any area when making washes and using interior/exterior paint as it will only start to get muddy.  Try to only spend a few seconds everywhere your brush/rag touches.  If you aren't terribly happy with how things are looking and it's not wiping away, WAIT for it to dry before tampering with it again.
  •  Once you have your base colors down, I find that smaller art brushes and acrylic paint works well for details on interior walls.  I usually do not use my oils since they take much longer to dry, and they may not work well on top of other paints or wall surfaces.
  • Fill the entire wall with the most basic shapes and colors before getting detailed.  In other words, keep things simple until the end, and if you feel that it needs more detail, go back.  Otherwise, if you get too detailed right off the bat, you might realize that you don't have the time or energy to get detailed in other areas.  A wall might  not look very big at first glance, but once you start working on it, you will realize that this could get very time consuming.  Unless you are going for a realistic look, a nice modern appeal is to keep things simple and painterly.

I hope this helps.  If you have more questions, just ask!

Everyone liked my classroom much that I was asked to paint a mural in another classroom.  I was happy to do so.


Harsimran Kaur said...

Nice! I'm a newbie in painting murals. Also I'm little afraid of starting painting my wall with a mural art. I surf the internet a lot but not able to chose a starting point. Please help. Also which paints we need to use for murals?

Interior Painting said...

For beginners, it's a good source of learning because you have the ability to share right stuff of interior painting. After reading this post everyone can take the wall painting ideas.

Peter Pascal said...

A client suggested that I place a "nice painting" rather higher up on the wall of my dental surgery, so that she
could see while dental work was being done for her. A good idea, I thought, to distract clients.
My nurse found and ordered this canvas print,, by Gustav Klimt, by
browsing to who made our excellent print from their
database of images from western art.

Angelique Buman said...

Hi Harsimran,

So have you tried to paint a mural yet? For interior paints, I like to use two kinds of paints: home interior paint and acrylics.

You can buy a lot of interior paint for less than acrylics, so I start with interior paint to cover large areas. For example, if I want a green hill, I will paint it all solid green with interior paint from a local hardware store. Acrylics are more costly and come in smaller tubes and can be found at art and craft stores, but you can get a whole bunch of different colors. So then I will use the acrylics to get into detail on the green hill (once it is dry) by adding flowers and trees.

As for finding images to paint, that's something you'll have to think about. Try typing in "decorative art" instead of mural art and see if some cool art decor comes up that might help give you a better idea.

Good luck and thanks for tuning in.

Angelique Buman said...

Thank you, your opinion is much appreciated :)

Derek Krycek said...

Very great article! I have been thinking about hiring a company that will do interior painting in Olympia, WA to paint a mural in my living room. I might just try it on my own, though! Thank you so much for these tips!

Angelique Buman said...

Thank you for letting me know that the tips were helpful. Good luck on whichever route you choose!

Gexton said...

awesome! It's true haven't seen you put much painting up here in a while, but really sweet!
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Angelique Buman said...

Hey Gexton, thanks for checking in. You're right, I haven't posted on here in a while and need to make a post soon. I have been so busy with some other blogs for the kids that I teach, especially this blog here:

Unknown said...

Great tips! Thanks! I'm painting murals in my boys' rooms, and wasn't sure how to blend to make the soft sky, but you've given me some great ideas!

Angelique Buman said...

You're welcome! I hope you can have fun with it!

Clinton Hurlburt said...

Thanks for these tips, Angelique. It’s true that these creative murals can be a good alternative for decorating your room. You don’t have to have the talent to make it look good or beautiful. It’s just a combination of a creative mind and carefree hands to make it look artistic.


Angelique Buman said...

Thanks, Clinton! I like the way you think :) Agreed.

Pantalones said...

Hi, Angelique!

Thanks for posting this helpful thread; it's still helping people a couple of years later. I'm wondering if you could shed some light on my case. :)

I'm starting my first interior wall mural later on this week, a 16'x16' space. The style consists of large, precise geometric shapes scattered against the wall (painted over a new coat of premium dark blue paint), and each shape uses one color. Both the wall color and the shapes are equally important. Would you suggest using an acrylic gesso as a primer, to get an even, seamless surface on the shapes? Also, do you think regular premium wall paint would work as well as acrylic paint for one-color surfaces? I'm using a couple of whites, two or three grays, and a black.

Your insight is truly appreciated. Thanks in advanced!


Andy Warren said...

This is really helpful! Anyway, creativity isn’t that limited with the simple brush and paints you have. One can make use of other materials, such as sponges to create other effects. Others also uses potato stamp. Isn’t it amazing how art just gives us so much ideas? ;-)

Andy Warren