Poppy Mural Progress

I’ve been painting on canvas for a while now, but never really considered the surfaces of walls as suitable for painting because of their permanence and limited share-ability. I did one mural for my daughter’s bedroom last year but found it very time consuming and didn’t really seek to do more of them. I enjoyed making it in a home-decor type of way, but I never considered doing any more of them. Partially because our home isn’t completely ready to have that “final” coat of paint put onto anything (with kids and pets, we’re not very motivated to make everything pretty only to have much of it ruined) and also partially because I rarely do projects unless I have a specific reason or incentive, such as with commission work or deadlines.

This summer I went to South Carolina to be with my husband’s side of the family. The trip was very memorable with lots of visits, meals, and outings with loved ones. We were lucky enough to be hosted by my husband’s grandparents in their beautiful recently new home. We also got to share a space with their super friendly cats, whose guest room they graciously let Brad and I stay in.

Ever since I met her, Brad’s grandmother Debbie has always had amazing style and organizational skills. I always loved seeing her studio office and always felt inspired after a visit. This new home was no exception; she has shelves upon shelves of art supplies, tools, photo albums and inspirational pieces. She also had a big blank wall that she was waiting to fill with something special. Here are some of her thoughts about it.

In 2016 a friend and I hiked the French Route of the Camino de Santiago across northern Spain over a period of 2 months. As we walked each day we would see red poppies… sometimes fields full, and other times a small patch in an unexpected place. Upon my return to the US every time I saw red poppies it would immediately trigger that memory. It became my plan to someday have a mural of red poppies on a wall in my office/studio so that I could be reminded of the feelings generated by that experience. Fortunate I was to have the talents of granddaughter-in-law and artist, Kina Forney, as the means to make that desire a reality. Although I will enjoy her mural privately in my office/studio, I look forward to sharing its beauty with friends and visitors in the hope of also sharing with them a little of the “magic of the Camino”.

I was so touched by her memory of her walk on the Camino, and was honored to be the one to put poppies onto the wall of her studio/office that I admired so much. I was worried that I wouldn’t finish it in time, so I tried my best to make time during our visit to get it finished before we had to leave.

I didn’t have any of the same tools I had used for my daughter’s bedroom (a projector letting me trace a certain image onto the wall) and I didn’t exactly bring all of the tools I would need to do it. But once I had declared that I wanted to start the mural, Debbie provided the paints, water, cloths, and even covered her desk items with a large canvas that also enabled me to walk around on the desk while I painted.

I decided to treat it much like how I approached painting shoes.

  1. Take a photo of the space.
  2. Import a photo of the blank wall into Photoshop.
  3. In a new layer, paste references and digitally sketch onto the photograph a rough idea of where the mural would be.
  4. Place a grid over the finalized digital design, and reproduce the same grid on the wall. (I had to use post-its and a large yard stick to make the grid).
  5. Sketch out the different quadrants to make something of an accurate reproduction.
  6. Paint!

It only took a few days. I was surprised at the speed at which it came together once I had a sketch that I was happy with. I was filled with confidence to take on another mural, or even more large scaled works. It was a huge confidence boost, and I was very grateful for a chance to paint while on summer vacation. The opportunities to paint prior to that trip had been pretty few ever since the kids got out of school.

Overall I am super happy with how it came out, and even happier that Debbie really likes it!

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