The day to day musings of a mural artist as he goes about painting marvellous murals
anywhere that people will let him.
|Posted on July 31, 2018 at 8:00 AM||comments (6)|
Apparently, I haven’t written a blog since the end of last year… where has the time gone?! It’s already almost August!
I have been pretty busy for this first half of the year (evidently) working alone mostly, but Dean has assisted with some larger projects (mainly the ones involving stairs and scaffolding).
At the beginning of the year I worked at Perry Mount Primary in London for three weeks. During week one I painted a pear tree in their entrance room with a simple countryside landscape background and the schools values written onto the branches of the tree.
They were so pleased with the finished mural that they asked me to come back for the following two weeks to continue the mural through their main doors and into the entrance hall. I painted the background in the same way as their previous mural, with simple fields and a blue cloudy sky, then I painted lots of storybook characters walking in the landscape as if they were headed into the school. I also painted ‘Welcome to Perrymount Primary’ on the wall in front of the main doors, so the message would welcome everyone who came into the main part of the school. This was a really fun job, and all the staff and pupils were so nice and complimentary and couldn’t wait to see what new characters were getting added every day. On my last day at Perrymount I got asked into their assembly, where I was given a ‘Star Pupil’ certificate and a round of applause. I am quite a shy person, so I’m pretty sure I tripped on my way to the front of the hall and then proceeded to turn a bright shade of red, but I thought it was a very kind thing for the school to do and shows how welcoming and inclusive they are. It was such a nice school to work at, but the commute to London was something I don’t think I could do every day!
I then had a small project painting an autumnal looking tree for the Garden Cottage Nursery in Canterbury. They wanted this tree painted to that they could hang photographs of all of the children attending the nursery from the branches. I thought this was a brilliant idea and a great way to add some colour to their walls as well as making the mural functional.
Next, Dean visited from Wales to help me paint a mural for Wentworth Primary in Dartford. They have quite a few famous alumni, including Adam Gemili the Olympic sprinter. He has recently funded the build of a new block and to commemorate this the Head teacher asked us to paint a montage of Adam Gemili going up the stairs in the new building. Stairs are always a bit tricky, so we used a mixture of a projector and the grid method to draw out mural, we then used a stair ladder to reach the highest parts when painting. We also painted a quote from Adam Gemili in the entrance hallway ‘Talent is Nature. Character is Choice’ to inspire the pupils every time they enter the building.
We had a pretty big project come up in March for a council estate called Willingdon Trees in Eastbourne. The council had sixteen gable ends that they wanted painted with floral designs. Unfortunately, the day we were supposed to start work was also the day the large snow storm was forecast in the UK - typical! We drove to Eastbourne but had to turn around and come home as it was just too cold for the paint to dry and with the storm forecast that night we didn’t want to start work to have it all get washed away. Once the snow had eventually subsided and the temperatures increased a little, we were able to head to Eastbourne and finally make a start. Due to the size and height of the murals, we needed to use a mixture of scaffolding and boom lift to reach the top of the three story wall. This proved to be pretty testing at times (one day we got a lift stuck in some mud and had to call the hire company to tow us out… but with some perseverance and ingenuity (and the hire of about 3 different machines and the use of our own scaffold tower and existing scaffolding from the previous contractors) we were able to get all of the work completed on schedule, despite the snowy set back! It was mighty cold out there though and pretty tiring work with all the scaffold climbing, board moving (to prevent the tyres from getting stuck in the mud again) and shivering, so I was glad when this particular job was finished!
Dean went back to Wales and I made my way to Ipswich to paint the entrance hall of the Itineris office. I had painted a blossom tree mural for the owner last year along with his children’s bedrooms, but now he was enlisting my help to brighten up the offices for his marketing and digital company and to make the décor tie in with their new branding. Lucky for me their new branding was all centred around Space – one of my passions! I’ve always loved science and star gazing, so this was the perfect job for me. We’ve painted space themed ceilings in kids rooms and I painted a constellation themed mural for Fireball Pizza in Bromley, but this project allowed me to really have fun with the subject matter and let loose a little. I had a rough idea of the colours I wanted to use and the shapes of the nebula, but I’d never been taught how to accurately paint nebula etc so I just had to try things and hope they worked! I watched a few you tube videos but I found the only way I could really paint this sort of mural was to just go with the flow and keep adding and learning as I went along. The room had already been painted black for me, so I started by adding thousands of stars (flicking and also hand painting) which took about a day on its own. Then using a mixture of spray paints, acrylics, emulsion, tissues, brushes, sponges and trial and error I think I came up with my own way of painting nebulas which looked quite realistic but was also relatively quick to do. I then varnished the whole room with 2 coats of heavy glaze to protect the mural as it was in such a high traffic area and there was a lot of woodwork, and this also helped to deepen the colours and give the whole room more depth. The whole hall way took 5 days to paint, including varnishing.
Everyone at the offices loved the effect so much that they asked me back over the next couple of months to paint a boarder of the same design all around the offices main room, board room and mezzanine floor. I also varnished this to give it the same finish as the hallway. These three rooms took me 3 more weeks to complete, but I think the effect is really striking and definitely shows off their branding and gives the whole office that ‘wow factor’ and means that clients will remember it after they have visited.
It has been really great working for Itineris over the last couple of months. Everyone there made me feel so welcome. The owner, Tim, is a huge Star Wars fan, so once the office’s main rooms were complete he said he’d like something a bit more fun in their bathroom and kitchen areas. I wanted to keep it professional looking but still quirky. Tim really likes Banksy’s work, so I came up with the idea of a simple grey scale landscape boarder, with characters from Star Wars made into stencils and spray painted over the top. I thought this was reserved and professional but also a cool nod at his favourite films from childhood and again, something that clients would remember once they had left the building. It was quite difficult working this mural out and then cutting all of the stencils, but I the finished effect is something I am really proud of. We based the theme around the Star Wars film ‘The Return of the Jedi’ and the Battle of Endor, so I had to make sure that I used the correct Strom Troopers and characters from that film. Including the design, making of all the stencils, painting of the background and spraying, these murals took 2 weeks to complete. I think I have painted every available space at Itineris! But would like to thank Tim for giving me the opportunity to create some really interesting murals and for his staff all being so kind and welcoming (especially when I got in their way or gassed them out with spray paints!).
Dean returned to Kent to help me paint a values mural at Riddlesdown Collegiate in Croydon. This was a relatively simple design, but due to where they wanted it painted (on a stairwell) and the size, it posed a few problems for us initially. But with some ingenious scaffolding usage we were able to reach to the top and get this mural completed in three days.
It was off to Bedfordshire for me next, where I painted a Lego DC mural, featuring the emirates Stadium and Donatello from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles thrown in for good measure! This usual mural was painted for a little boy, but I think it was also partly painted for his Dad! This is truly the meaning of a bespoke mural – we can create designs that incorporate as many different aspects as you like, to make you artwork incredibly personal and individual. This mural took me four days to complete.
I was a bit closer to home for the next couple of projects. I really enjoyed painting this Giraffe for a young couple in Bromley expecting their first child. They had decided not to find out the sex, so wanted something very gender neutral in their newborns nursery. They wanted a very subtle effect, so I used white matte emulsion on the magnolia background colour to paint the design, and then finished with an iridescent glaze. This added a lovely softness to the mural and made it even more special for their little one. Due to the fiddly-ness of this design and the fact that it needed quote a few coats of paint, this relatively simple design ended up taking me two days to complete, but the finished effect was worth it.
Finally I was in Hempstead to paint this Pokemon themed mural for a very excited little boy. Dean had painted a cars themed mural for his older brother a few years ago, so now it was his turn to have a mural of his favourite things painted onto his bedroom wall. He told me his favourite Pokemon and I came up with this design for him, with a simple background but lots of detail in the characters. I remember watching Pokemon when I was younger so it was great fun to paint this design. This mural took four days to paint.
Well, I think that pretty much has everyone up to date with what I’ve been up to so far this year! Dean and I will be at Art in the Park on the 11th of August painting a metal container with a pretty design if anyone wants to come and say hello.
I will try and update the blog a bit more frequently. So, until next time I hope you all enjoy the summer holidays and this crazy warm weather we’re having. I, personally, am more of an Autumn and Spring kinda gal, so I say roll on jumper wearing weather!
|Posted on December 11, 2017 at 8:10 AM||comments (4)|
The festive season is upon us! And we’ve even had some snow (which almost instantly turned to sludge then disappeared, but hey, still snow!). It’s always a little slow for us this time of year, but (I’ve been keeping busy in the studio and preparing for some upcoming projects in the New Year.
At the end of November I had a fun job in Norfolk, where I spent two weeks painting a night time Disney Cars themed bedroom for a little boy named Buddy. We painted Buddy’s bedroom in his old house a few years ago, but having recently moved his parents asked if we could paint a very similar mural in his new bedroom, but with a few updates as Cars 3 had been released and he had some new favourite characters.
Getting to Norfolk took a little longer than expected (as all journeys involving the m25 on a Monday morning seem to!), but once I arrived and had a little chat with Buddy about what he wanted I got straight to work planning out the room and drawing the scenes and characters. The next couple of days were spent painting the ceiling the a deep night time blue and then covering it with thousands of stars, which I then went over with glow in the dark paint to make it extra special at night time.
Once the sky was complete, I began painting in the background desert landscape. This is always quite a long process as the different sections all need about 3 coats of paint, and its little details like shadows that make a big difference.
Once the background was painted, I started work on the scenery – buildings, signs and foliage. I think this was all very frustrating for Buddy who just wanted to see me paint Lightening McQueen! But the way we work is to paint from the background to the foreground so unfortunately characters are generally the last element to be painted.
I always find painting buildings quite a challenge, especially as these were to be painted to look as if they were seen in partial light, so lots of neon lights and shadows. I was pleased with how they came out, though I was quite tired of painting straight lines by the end of it! Buddy wanted lightening McQueen to be donning his new paint job from Cars 3, so I adjusted our previous design and even used some gold paint to add finishing touches to lettering to give it extra impact. He also wanted Cruz instead of Sally this time, which was no problem at all as all of our designs are bespoke and hand painted, so we can adjust designs and make them exactly what the customer dreams of.
Instead of the Japanese race track that we painted for him before he wanted the Demolition Derby from the new film. This was fun to paint, as it meant I could add a lot of texture into the background and make the design fit the shape of his new room.
Painting characters and adding little details is always my favourite part of any children’s mural, so I spent most of the second week painting these and making them look just like they do in the film.
I also painted the wardrobe door, skirting and radiator so that they all fit in with the theme. This helped to tie in the whole room and make it more of a coherent space.
After two long weeks of working extremely long days the room was complete and Buddy was ecstatic with his new bedroom. Its always so lovely to paint murals for children as they get such joy out of our work.
It was also lovely to get to visit Norfolk. I stayed in a B&B that was right on the coast so I got to sleep with the soothing sounds of the ocean (even if it was freezing cold!) and to take in some of the beautiful Norfolk countryside.
We have a few large jobs coming up next year which I am excited to share with you all once we get going. In the meantime, I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and New Year and get to spend quality time with your friends and family enjoying the season.
Merry Christmas from Marvellous Murals!
|Posted on November 1, 2017 at 12:35 PM||comments (0)|
Back in September, Dean came back to Kent to help to paint a large blossom tree on the side of a house in Faversham that a couple wanted painted as their anniversary gift to each other. We had to use the scaffold tower as they wanted the tree almost as high as the wall. It took us two days to paint and we also included some sunflowers at the base of the tree as they were the couple’s wedding flower and so have a special significance for them. We had many positive comments from passers-by, which is lucky as the tree is in quite a prominent place and easily visible from the road. It definitely brightens up the space and is a lovely tribute to the house owners love for each other.
When he returned to Wales, Dean painted an excellent jungle themed mural in the soft play area at the zoo. It looks so much brighter and more welcoming than it did before – just one example of the renovations and improvements that Dean and his family are making to their little zoo.
I had a bit of a different job to do for the Fireball Pizza Company in Bromley – a restaurant we have done lots of work for in the past. They are having their menus redesigned and printed, so they wanted some water colour painting of gargoyles to use in the design. It felt strange to be working small scale with watercolours for a work project, rather than a whole wall or room with emulsion! I love working with watercolour so this was a welcome change from the norm. I delivered the finished paintings to them on Halloween – which was quite apt considering the subject matter!
We have some interesting projects on the horizon, so keep checking the Facebook page and website for updates!
Until next time,
|Posted on September 19, 2017 at 9:45 AM||comments (1)|
I thought I’d just write a little blog about the last two weeks, during which I got to visit Deans Zoo! We had a job in Pembrokeshire painting a little girls bedroom, which is about a 2 hour drive from Borth, where Dean and his family now live. I drive a 26 year old Nissan Micra and I love her to pieces, but I didn’t really fancy making the 6 hour drive to Wales on my own, so as Dean had been visiting Kent that weekend we decided that I would travel back with him and stay at the zoo for a few days before we both made our way down to Pembrokeshire to paint.
The journey was surprisingly traffic free and the views were stunning as we heading further into Wales. I’s never seen so many forests, rivers, hills and valleys and was awed by the fact that people have all of this literally backing onto their gardens! At one point we drove up and over a gigantic hill, through heathland with sheep just casually walking across the road and eating grass at the roadside. It was very surreal for someone who lives on a main road in Sittingbourne.
We got to the zoo around 6pm and Deans little girls were excited to give me a tour of the zoo straight away. They have a great range of animals, including lemurs, marmosets, goats, wallabies, ostriches, meerkats, raccoon dogs, huge snakes, rats, bats, bunnies, lions and a leopard. My favourites though were the two huge Bengal Owls that they have. They’re so beautiful and majestic. You could get pretty close to all of the animals which was a new experience for me.
The accommodation for my stay was in the static caravan that Dean and his family lived in for a few months before they were able to move into the zookeeper’s house. It’s next to the lion enclosure, and I was awoken at 6am by the lions calling back and forth to each other – again, very surreal!
I spent the next day sanding down and painting some new fencing that had been built around one of the enclosures. This is slow work and by about 4pm I’d managed to paint about half. Dean wanted to repaint the kitchen area in the café and as the zoo is open 7 days a week, this had to be done in the evening so it would be ready for use again the next day. We started by removing everything from the kitchen and then cleaning the walls and surfaces. We then sanded down all of the walls and shelves and once everything was prepped we could start painting. Although it was only a small room, it still needed 3 coats of paint and the wood work needed to be painted in gloss, so we were working until about 9pm to make sure it was all finished and could dry overnight, ready to have everything put back in it in the morning.
The next day I resumed the painting of the fence, but due to rain I had to stop. There’s a small soft play indoor area for children and the paint work was flaking and looking a bit shabby, so Dean wanted to freshen this up and make it a little more inviting for the public. All the old paint had to be scrapped off and sanded down and all staples, blue tack, drawing pins and posters had to be removed. I managed to get most of the prep work done (and mess hovered away) and then Dean suggested going to the cinema in Borth high-street for the evening. It’s in a converted church with a restaurant above, with one very luxurious screen room equipped with super comfy chairs and even sofas and arms chairs at the sides of the room.
We were off to Pembrokeshire the next day, so had put all the paint and equipment in the van before we went out to the cinema. We set off early, as we had to pop into Aberystwyth to get some dust sheets before being on our way. We had a bit of trouble finding the house that we were supposed to be painting in, but eventually found it with a few phone calls to the owner. The house was in the process of being completely renovated with an equestrian centre being built on the land surrounding it. This unfortunately meant no lights were fitted in any of the rooms, there was no heating and no working toilet… but at least it had four walls and a roof, which is more than some projects we have worked on in the past!
The client wanted a Welsh landscape theme for her daughter’s bedroom, featuring lots of farm animals and some of their pets. We started by painting the ceiling a pretty sky blue, fading down the walls into lighter shades and then eventually white. I then painted some fluffy white clouds on the ceiling and walls whilst dean working out the horizon and surrounding landscape. It took us about 2 days to finish the background and then we started painting things in the foreground, such as a large blossom tree and some of the bigger animals. Once the main animals were painted, we could add in some little details, such as sheep and pigs in the distant fields and butterflies and insects (and even a little pterodactyl in the distance, as per the client’s husband’s request!). We even added a few little fairies into one of the built in cupboards as a little extra surprise. The whole room took us 4 long (10 – 12 hours of painting per day) days to paint and the client and her daughter were thrilled with the end result.
As I was getting the train home (a 7 hour journey) and we didn’t pack up until about 6pm, I decided to head back with Dean to the zoo for one final night before making my way back to Kent in the morning. We got back to Borth just in time to see the second of three special features about Dean and Tracy buying the zoo on The One Show. If you haven’t seen them you can check them out on iplayer. They’re really interesting and show some of the challenges Dean and his family have had to face during their big move, as well as showing you some of the awesome animals they have.
The next morning, I finished painting off the fence I had started the week before so it was ready for the zoo inspection that they were having in a few days and then Dean gave me a lift to the train station. The train journey between Aberystwyth and Birmingham has some great views, and I spent most of that leg looking out of the window admiring the views and listening to the Harry Potter audiobooks. The journey was mostly uneventful, until I got to London and one of the ticket people pointed out that my ticket was in fact dated for the next day. They weren’t the most helpful, but after a little while I was able to convince them that I wasn’t trying to swindle them and they let me get on the final train home (I think the fact that I almost burst into tears helped sway them… apparently being away from home for 9 days makes me a little emotional!).
The rest of the week was spent visiting potential clients and putting together designs. I also had to pop back to Kent College to touch up a few parts of the murals I did for them a couple of weeks ago, as the builders had been a little heavy handed.
Next week we are painting the side of a house in Faversham for a couple who are celebrating their wedding anniversary and wanted to get each other something a little different, so check the facebook page for updates if you’re interested to see our progress!
Thanks for reading,
|Posted on August 29, 2017 at 9:55 AM||comments (0)|
August has been a busy month here at Marvellous Murals. At the beginning of the month, Dean came back from Wales for a few days to help me paint the outside of the Fountain of Ale, a pub by Sittingbourne Station that has recently changed ownership so was having a bit of a makeover. I designed the logo for them a few months ago when the client first got in contact. Once the pubs exterior had been repainted and we had some space in our schedule, we were able to start the mural. Dean painted the logo whilst I painted the sign writing for the name of the pub. This was drawn out using a cartoon (I projected the lettering onto large piece of card and then punctured holes into the corners of each letter. I positioned the templates in the centre of the space and made marks through each of the holes. Once the template was removed I could join up all of the dots and using masking tape to paint the straight lines, paint in the characters) which is a good way to paint lettering when you aren’t able to project onto the wall and when a stencil would not be precise enough. Dean used the grid method to draw out the logo and then painted it all freehand. He did this on very high scaffolding, and I was very happy that I only had to go up there once to remove some chalk lines for the grid, as coming down was not an easy feat (I’m still very scared of heights, apparently) but after a lot of deliberation and coaxing I managed to stop shaking long enough to get back on solid ground!
On the 30th of July I was joined by my sister, Sophie, at the Westgate Arts and Crafts event in Canterbury, where we were asked to do some chalk art around the event. We started by chalking a large version of the Westgate Arts logo by the entrance to the park. We then spent the rest of the day creating many colourful floral pieces of chalk art (including some huge daisies) dotted around the park as well as spending a few hours in the afternoon doing a children’s colouring event at the Kid’s Cove, where we drew lots of outlines of wildlife and nature related things for the children to colour in. This was a great success and we got lots of very interesting requests from the children (my favourite being a space rocket and Saturn… not quite wildlife, but still nature themed!). The whole day was a lot of fun and the weather was perfect, so hopefully they will hold it again next year. I also got some of the best maple and walnut fudge I have ever tasted from one of the stalls, so that was a bonus!
Once Dean had returned to Wales I had another job at the Fireball Pizza Company in Bromley, who we have done lots of work for in the past. They’re going through a gradual refurbishment at the moment, as they want their restaurant to be themed with the weird and the wonderful to be an experience for its diners as well as serving excellent food with lovely staff. This time they wanted the large back wall of the restaurant to have a constellation theme. They painted the whole wall black, so I could start straight away with painting. First I painted thousands of starts over the whole wall. I then (using another cartoon) painted the words ‘Welcome to the Fireball Observatory’ in a twilight zone themed font that I designed. I then painted seven of the owner’s favourite constellations, with the animal or character of each constellation in blue and the name of the constellation next to it in the same font. Normally I would project something this size, but due to the large skylight directly above the wall I wasn’t able to do this. Instead I made some rough templates for a few of the constellation and the others I drew free hand. The end result looked really cool and added to their new overall theme and it was really fun to get to paint something that was based on some of my favourite things – astronomy and mythology!
For the past two weeks I have been working at Kent College in Canterbury, painting in their newly refurbished boys and girls bathrooms. I have been working alongside an interior designer – Lisa Honiball from Honiball Interior Design – which has been a new experience for me. The toilets were supposed to be completed fitted by the time I was due to paint, but unfortunately due to timing restraints and other setbacks, they were only just starting when I arrived. This has been doable, but not ideal, as I’ve been working around plumbers, electricians and builders, making it a slower process than normal. Everyone has been really flexible which has made everything go a little smoother and by working for a little longer once everyone else has gone home for the day and at the weekends, I only have a little bit left to paint in the girls bathroom, ready for the pupils return to school next week. In a way it was good for me that the toilets etc hadn’t been fitted, as it meant I could get up close to the walls! There have been a lot of challenges with this job, such as painting a huge blossom tree on my own and a large orange stripe that circles a room across the ceiling and down both walls (this one stumped me for quite some time!), but with help from the maintenance workers allowing me to borrow their ladders (and keys to lock up after myself!) and the electricians for showing me how to use their laser spirit level, I’ve managed to overcome pretty much all of the obstacles that got thrown at me. I will be finishing the murals in both rooms with a heavy duty glaze to allow for more thorough cleaning, without the fear of rubbing the murals off of the walls!
Next week we’re in Wales (nope, not at Deans Zoo!) painting a little girls bedroom for a client who we have worked with in the past.
I hope everyone is enjoying the last dregs of the Summer, though as much as I love the sunshine and light evenings, it’s getting to that point in the year when I am secretly looking forward to Autumn – fallen leaves, pumpkin spiced everything, Halloween, scarfs and big coats! My favourites. I’ll also enjoy not applying factor 50 every time I step out the door. Though painting exterior murals does get a little less pleasant the closer we get to Winter!
Until next time,
|Posted on July 25, 2017 at 7:05 PM||comments (0)|
This month has been another busy one! At the end of June, Dean and I were back in Ipswich to paint another blossom tree in the home that my sister and I previously painted a large blossom tree that spanned two floors. The client felt as if the wall opposite the one we previously painted, now looked a little bare, so asked us to paint a smaller blossom tree tie in with their other mural. This smaller tree was completed in two days and helped to make the whole space seem more in keeping with the theme, rather than just having a large feature wall. The client wanted all walls to have something painted on them, even if it was just some fly away blossom or a little bird. This made the mural seem a lot more immersive, even though it was actually very subtle and used a limited colour palette.
The client also wanted a Lego heroes and villains room painted for his five year old son. Dean roughly drew out the background and the characters but then had to head back to wales on zoo business. This was a good start though, and I spent the rest of the week painting in the background (sooo many straight lines!). I was hoping to make a start on the characters by the Friday, as the little boy was very upset that he didn’t have a Batman yet! But the background took a lot longer than I had anticipated, so by 7pm Friday evening I was only just finishing. I made the drive back to Kent, then after a weekend of Alice in Wonderland afternoon tea (there’s a new café in Herne Bay which I would definitely recommend!) and seeing my family, I headed back to Ipswich for another week to complete the room. Painting the characters is the most fun part, so I started off with Batman (obviously) as he was the largest character and I wanted to give the little boy a nice surprise for when he came home from school! I then moved around the room (spending probably a little too much time on each character, but because Lego and Batman are two of my favourite things I wanted everything to be perfect). After all the characters were painted there was a little bit of detail left to do on the background (outlines, some shadows and finishing off the Bat Symbol) and then after a week of long hours and stressing because I didn’t think I was going to get it done, the room was finally complete. The little boy and his parents were really happy with it and couldn’t wait to put on his new Lego Batman duvet covers (and for me and my big tins of paint to be out of his room!). They bought me a Lego Batgirl key ring to say thank you, which was so nice of them. They originally didn’t want to have Batgirl painted, but after finding out she was my favourite (well, joint favourite with Batman, but she is an awesome crime fighting girl with ginger hair… so how could I not like her?) they said they would like me to include her to remind them of me.
After Ipswich I had a week back at home where I caught up on emails and designs and painted this sign for Dean for the zoo.
Dean headed to the Coloured Earth Festival in Gloucester on the 15th and 16th of July where he had a great time chalking this brilliant anamorphic tiger.
We then had a job in Manchester, painting an exterior wall in the playground of St Richards Primary School. The wanted a woodland scene with lots of animals as the school was in a built up area on the outskirts of Manchester, so the children didn’t get to see much wildlife. Dean had all the masonry paint so he drove up from Wales (after a long weekend of chalking) and I got the train up from Kent (as I worry that my little Nissan Micra would not be able to handle a 6+ hour drive, though she would give it a good go!). The train journey was uneventful as you hope all train journeys would be and Dean met me at the station and we headed to the school. The wall was already primed and cleaned for us, so we could get straight to painting. We started by roughly marking the horizon and the sun and then I made a start painting in the sky and grass whilst Dean drew out the trees and foliage. Once the base colours were down I could start painting in the animals and Dean added details to the background and painted in the tree canopy. I painted lots of animals that the children had suggested we include, such as a badger, some rabbits, a fox, squirrels, birds, insects and much more. The weather was kind to us for most of the week, but on Thursday we had a little rain in the mo9rning which set us back a little, despite this though, we were still finished a day ahead of schedule as we had factored in a little more time in case we lost too much time to the weather (you never can be sure, even in July!).
This week we are painting the outside of The Fountain of Ale pub by Sittingbourne station, weather permitting of course!
This weekend I will be in Westgate with my sister for the Arts and Crafts fun day on the 30th of July at Westgate Gardens. There will be lots to see and do and Sophie and I will be chalking all over the park and will encourage people to join in! It starts at 10am and runs until 4pm.
In the next month I will be revisiting the Fireball Pizza Company in Bromley to work on an exciting new project and will also be painting some murals for Canterbury College, so don’t forget to check our Facebook page for updates and to see what Dean and I have been up to!
Thanks for reading,
|Posted on June 21, 2017 at 7:10 PM||comments (0)|
It’s been another couple of months of adjusting, whilst Dean has been finalising his move to Wales and I’ve been getting used to a lot of working alone (meaning I’ve made my way through an astonishing number of podcasts and audiobooks – perks of the job!) and learning how to have a more active role in the business.
Dean returned to Kent mid May to help me paint the large soft play area at Demelza House. They wanted lots of bright colours and a football theme, so we started by painting huge splashes and patches of bright colours, to completely cover the lower section of the wall (they are hopefully fitting a false ceiling in the future, so didn’t want us painting too high if it was going to be covered eventually). These needed a couple of coats of paint to stop them from being patchy and then once they were dry we could start blending the edges with spray paints. Once the background was complete, we used some stencils that I had made the week before to spray paint football shapes of various sizes randomly onto the wall. This made the space fun and vibrant with lots to look at. Once this was all completely dry I gave the whole mural two coats of clear glaze to help protect it for cleaning and from bumps and scratches. The mural took us two days to paint and once day to varnish. Everyone at Demelza house said what a difference the mural made to an otherwise dull room, in such a little amount of time.
Dean headed back to Wales and I went off to Ipswich for my first job away working on my own. I was to paint a Peppa Pig Themed room for a previous client (the lovely family that My sister and I painted a blossom tree for inspired by the film Paddington, in their entrance hall). As I had worked for the client before this made me feel a little more confident. After the three hour drive to Stowmarket, I chatted with the client to find out exactly what they wanted and went through some reference pictures and some layout ideas. Once this was all finalised I could begin to draw out the design, starting with working out where the hills and landscape were to go and then drawing the characters in situ. The room was recently painted a very pale pink, so we decided to keep this as the background colour and use it for the sky, rather than repainting in a pale blue. The clients daughter was very happy about this as pink is her favourite colour.
Once everything was drawn out I could begin to paint in the landscape. Once the hills were painted I could start to paint in details in the distance such as the trees and then work forward to start painting in the landscape details in the foreground. The last thing to paint was the characters, with Peppa and her family on one side of the room and a group of her friends on the opposite wall. I was working long days to make sure I got all of the mural completed in the week (and because being alone in a hotel room in the middle of nowhere isn’t exactly the most interesting of activities! There’s only so many episodes of Parks and Recreation that you can watch!). I added the finishing touches to the mural on Friday evening, and then started on the long journey back home.
The following week I was painting some murals for Deans daughter Robyn. She is expecting her second child in August, so wanted a pretty grey themed patchwork mural above where the baby’s cot will be. This only took me a day to paint and we used the same paint that had been used to decorate the furniture in the room, so it all matched.
Her little boy Alfie is mad about superheroes and dinosaurs, so in his room we decided to paint the incredible hulk smashing through the wall and then a T-rex Battling a swinging Spider-Man on the wall next to it. These murals took me five days to paint and there was a very happy little boy at the end of the week!
After this I had a job painting the ceiling for The Fireball Pizza Company in Bromley. We have painted some murals for them before (some gargoyles eating pizza and ice cream and a B-Movie style dinosaur under a sky of fireballs, both on boards that were mounted on the walls of the restaurant), but this time they wanted the ceiling to be painted with a night time sky, featuring lots of stars and some moody nigh time clouds. The owner had recently painted the ceiling a deep blue colour, so I was able to come in and start painting the stars and clouds straight away. Clients sometimes chose to paint the background colours beforehand, as this saves us time and helps to keep costs down. I started by roughly working out where the clouds were going to go and then I started painting in the thousands of starts to adorn the sky. This is done with a mixture of flicking watered down paint to create the smaller stars and then going back over and hand painting in hundreds of larger stars to give the illusion of distance to make the sky look more realistic. Once this was done, I started to paint the clouds, using a range of colours from black, to grey, to white to make the clouds look three dimensional and as if there is moonlight reflecting off of them. In the background of the Gargoyle paintings we had painted a full moon, so I painted the clouds as if the light shining off of them was radiating from this moon. We were going to add glow in the dark paint to the stars, but due to the dim lighting in the restaurant this didn’t really show up. Glow in the dark paint can look really magical when used on a night sky mural, but the room needs to ideally be completely dark to get the full effect. It took my three says to paint the stars and clouds and the client was really pleased with the finished look, so it made the neck and back pain from standing in weird positions up the ladder, all worth it! The restaurant has such interesting décor, it was a pleasure to help add to their overall theme. If you get the chance to visit at Halloween, I would highly recommend it, as they go all out with their decorations and this year I think with their newly painted sky, it will make it even more dramatic!
We have some school work coming up in the next month which Dean will be helping me with and also an exciting project involving Canterbury College as well as a Lego Batman room (!!!) and the outside of a pub.
As always, if you or someone you know is looking to have a mural painted, please get in touch, no matter how big or small the design! We can design murals to fit all budgets, with discounts for local work or repeat custom.
Until next time,
|Posted on May 4, 2017 at 9:35 AM||comments (0)|
Well, it has been an odd month or so here at Marvellous Murals. Dean made the move to Wales at the beginning of April with his family and it’s been a bit of a learning curve for me, still in Kent. I think Dean’s settling into the zoo life, though I imagine it’s been a bit of a shock! But I’ve no doubt that over the next few months they will get firmly into the swing of things.
A few years ago Dean painted a lovely colourful bee mural at Milton Creek Country Park. Unfortunately this recently suffered some fire damage, so after the affected panels were replaced I went to Milton Creek to repaint the new panels and to freshen up the rest of the mural (as it was painted onto wood it was never going to have the same longevity as the murals that we paint onto walls). I painted this whilst there was a fun day at the park, so there were lots of people enjoying the sunshine and I got many lovely comments from children who were very interested in what I was doing. I tried to make it as much like the original mural as I could and after a day it was all touched up and good as new.
Next we had a job up in Ipswich for a family who wanted a large blossom tree painted in their home, spanning both floors. They took inspiration from the tree in the film Paddington, but wanted it adjusted to fit in the space that they had and for the colours to reflect the spring time colours in their garden (rather than the deep red of the tree blossom in Paddington). My car radiator hose decided to blow up a few days before having to travel to Ipswich, and due to it being a bank holiday I was unable to get it fixed. Luckily my very talented little sister, Sophie, happened to have a week off between changing jobs and so kindly offered to drive and to help me paint the mural, meaning it would only take four day rather than the eight it would have taken me on my own. Sophie is an amazing digital artist and has contributed to the hugely popular Romantically Apocalyptic online comic, so I knew she’d have no problem helping me out. The family we worked for were extremely welcoming and happy to let us paint what we thought would look best. After a little planning out the design we began to start work, chalking out the outline of the enormous tree that covered two floors and almost three walls on each floor. Once we were happy with the rough shape of the tree, we mixed up a paint that was similar in colour to the wood used throughout the house and began to apply the undercoat. This took up most of the first day, but once this first coat was applied it gave the clients and ourselves a better idea of how the finished mural was going to look. On day two we applied a second coat to the trunk and branches and also started to extend some of the branches around the first floor hallway. I began to add texture to the tree whilst Sophie finished painting in the thinner branches. On day three I started to add the blossom (we started with a vibrant pink that imitated the blossom trees in the clients garden, then toned this down with two more shades of pink to give a natural looking variation of colour) and Sophie started to paint some pretty nightingale birds in the down stairs hallway. The client wanted some birds added to spread the design out across the other walls, so we chose to paint nightingales as they are often found in Suffolk and their soft brown colour fit in well with the brown and pink colour scheme. Once Sophie had finished painting the birds she helped me with painting the hundreds of individual blossom flowers. I think by the end of the third day our eyes and hands were a bit blossomed out, so after a big meal, a walk in the countryside and a good sleep in our Travelodge, we returned for the fourth and final day to finish painting the blossom and to touch up anything that needed it. The client was very happy with the finished mural and would like us to return again in the near future to paint another smaller tree going up their staircase and to add a few more birds and wildlife to really bring the countryside into their home! Sophie won’t be helping me next time as she recently started a new job as a Veterinary Nurse in training (artistic talent and brains!), but it was a great privilege to get to work alongside my sister for a week and to share the creation a piece of work that made our clients very happy .
Last week I painted a Jemimia Puddle Duck mural for two little twin girls for their bedroom in Sheerness. The room was painted a pretty pale pink which was perfect to paint the mural on top of, so I could get to work straight away. We decided to paint a whole scene from the Beatrix potter books rather than just the character, as this added a bit more colour to the room and made the mural more of an eye catching feature. It took me one day to draw this out and paint it. The little girls loved the finished mural and their mum was very happy too!
On the horizon we have a project for Demelza house and some school murals and private homes to paint. Dean, once settled into the zoo, will be back painting murals in Wales (and I’m sure their zoo will be covered in magical murals very soon!) and he will also be travelling back to Kent to help me and to other parts of the country, so if you would like something, please get in touch!
Until next time,
|Posted on April 10, 2017 at 11:20 AM||comments (0)|
It’s been a bit of an unsettled time here at Marvellous Murals, as Dean and his family are currently in the process of moving to Wales because they bought a zoo! Dean will be mostly located in Wales from this point, but will still be popping back to Kent from time to time.
In March we managed to finish off the garden underpass mural that we started last November in Wokingham. We had to put a hold on things just before Christmas as the weather was not on our side and the temperature dropped so much that we couldn’t apply the anti-graffiti varnish. We waited until Spring and once the weather had begun to improve, we headed back to Wokingham to check on the mural and to complete the last section, before coating with anti-graffiti varnish. Unfortunately, over the previous few months a lot of graffiti had been drawn over our work. This was initially quite disheartening (and the very sort of thing that can be washed straight off had we had the weather to apply the varnish) but it actually only took us about a day to undo the damage and repaint little bits here and there. Once this was done we could complete the last section of the mural and paint the handrail coming down the stairs. We then spent a few days applying two coats of anti-graffiti varnish to ensure that any future damage can be easily removed. It was a great relief to get this mural painted and varnished, as it had been a bit of a tricky job for us and it was so nice to see it complete and brightening up a dreary underpass.
Next we did some sign writing for Smokey Joes, a bar in Maidenhead that we have previously done some other work for, for their refurbishment. They wanted the bars name/logo painted on a large exterior wall on their rooftop. There was quite a lot of measuring and adjusting to initially draw the design onto the wall in chalk. With signwriting you have to make sure that the spacing between letters is equal, and that all lines are the same thickness etc or it throws off the whole font. Once we had the basic outline complete we could start masking taping some of the straight edges (which is a whole other feat in itself, let me tell you… Especially on a slightly windy day!) and then we began to paint on the wall in black masonry paint. Due to the fiddly-ness of lettering, this took us two days to complete, but it looked very effective and is a great use of otherwise unused space.
In the week before Deans move we painted some lettering at Riverside school in Rainham. We have done a lot of work for this school and they always make us feel very welcome. This time they wanted the school motto and values written in the school reception, around the top of the room and above the main entrance to the class rooms. Dean helped me to project and draw these out on the first day, but then he needed to do some packing, so it took me a further two days on my own to complete. Again, lettering is very time consuming as you have to ensure that you have a steady hand and that the letters are all straight and the same thickness! They also need about three coats of paint, especially if painted in a colour like burgundy as reds always tend to need a few more coats than the other colours. I quite like doing lettering though; I find it very satisfying to finish but also a little excruciating to paint!
The day before April Fools day, Dean and I created a piece of 3D chalk art on a large piece of paper for the Forum Shopping Centre in Sittingbourne. They wanted what looked like an archaeological dig that happened upon a Roman statue. To create works of art like this you have to draw the subject slightly elongated so that you can stand at a certain point and it will look 3D. We did this by projecting the roman stature face at an angle and then drawing the 3D hole free hand, by directing all lines towards the viewing point. Once this was finished it was placed in the middle of the shopping centre on the floor with hazard tape and barriers around it to set it up as an actual archaeological dig. It looked very effective and was shared over social media with lots of people taking their picture by it.
Deans last official day in Kent was on Monday the 3rd of April (I say official, but he’ll be back and forth), so last week I was doing a nice job on my own for a lady in Sittingbourne whose son was mad about American Muscle cars and she wanted me to paint a Dodge Charger in his bedroom as a surprise. It took me two days to paint, but her son was very pleased with the finished result (even if I was painting right up until half an hour before he walked through the door!).
We are currently taking bookings for the summer, so if you, or someone you know would like a mural, then please get in touch! Some murals will be painted by myself and Dean, though we will be working separately now to cover Kent and Wales and all places in-between! If you haven’t already, then please join our Facebook page to keep up to date with all our mural goings on and you can also find us on Pinterest!
I hope you all have a lovely Easter
Until next time,
|Posted on February 26, 2017 at 1:25 PM||comments (0)|
Hello, hello, hello and happy 2017!
I’m not sure I can really start with that as it’s almost March and we’ve all pretty much settled into the New Year now … but I’m going to. I am so excited for Spring – I’m in serious need of some sunshine and warm weather – The clocks going forward can’t come soon enough.
To start off our year we had some fun gargoyles to paint for a pizza Restaurant in Bromley. The owners love Halloween, so wanted something a little quirky to have in the restaurant all year round. We painted these gargoyles on MDF boards so they could be easily mounted in the restaurant. One Gargoyle is eating a slice of pizza and the other is licking an ice-cream. They took around three days to paint.
After the gargoyles we had a job in Hertfordshire at the Gordon Brown centre, an outdoor education centre, painting three murals in their dormitories. We only had one week to paint these three murals as this was the only time the centre was closed to the public, so we enlisted a little extra help and stayed on the premises to allow us to work longer days. We had the help of Derrick Throssel, a mural painter and decorator from Essex. Derrick and I made a start on the long dormitory corridor mural, whilst Dean began work on the two main murals in the boys and girls dormitories.
In the corridor we were painting large bold flowers and insects to brighten up the space. This building was to be knocked down in the future, so they didn’t want anything too detailed, just something to brighten it up in the meantime that wouldn’t take too long to complete. Although the shapes were all big and bold, the flat block colours tend to need many coats of paint, so it can be a little time consuming. We managed to get this corridor completed by Wednesday evening after doing some extra long days, so then Derrick and I could go and help Dean in the main building. The dormitory murals were a little more detailed and the client wanted them to show the range of outdoor activities that they offer, as well as some of the animals and features from around the centre. Dean had gotten quite far with both murals, so it was a case of helping with the smaller details, such as adding some animals to the murals and some texture to the trees. The Gordon Brown centre was really lovely to work with and made us feel very welcome. The staff were extremely warm and friendly and definitely made sure we were well fed during our stay! It was a lovely place to work and to wake up each morning – even if it was -1 most mornings!
Next we painted a rainforest themed bedroom for a little girl in Ebbsfleet who loves animals. She had gone through a book that she owned about the Rainforest and put in post-it notes and comments on all of the animals she would like us to try and fit into her mural (which was very sweet and very helpful!). We started by drawing out and planning where everything was to go (the walls were a nice clean white, perfect for drawing on and painting any colour) and then we could fill in large background areas with an undercoat of pale green. Once this was done, we added streaks of white to add depth and the illusion of trees in the distance, and then we could begin to work forward, making the colour deeper as we went to give that illusion of depth. Once most of the background had been painted, we could start painting in the animals. We painted a clouded leopard, caiman, piranha, a sloth and its baby and a boa-constrictor, to name but a few! To complete the mural we added some little details, such as various butterflies and insects, birds flying across the blue cloudy painted ceiling and pretty rainforest flowers. This room took us eight days to complete.
Next up we had a distressed Union Jack to paint in Smokey Joes, a cool bar in Maidenhead. They were having a complete refurbishment with lots of Victorian, steam punk and American influences and they wanted the distressed union jack to go on a feature wall in the club. This took us two days to complete. They also asked us back this week to distress three shutters for them to make them fit in with the new aesthetic. We achieved this look with a lot of spray paint and some strategic rubbing down with sandpaper, all in one day.
Deans youngest daughters primary school asked us to paint a mural in their library. They had just purhased a beautiful wooden story telling chair, so wanted something magical and imagination inspiring to painted behind the chair. We chose to paint an enchanted forest, complete with fairies and the Gruffalo hiding in the trees. On the opposite side of the room we painted a large tree with various story book characters in the leaves and on the branches. I think Deans daughters were quite excited to have their Daddy working at their school for the week! I caught that horrible cold that was going around, so after lots of coughing and spluttering on the Monday, I thought it was best to keep my germs to myself for a day and hibernate under a duvet in my flat. We managed to get these murals painted in one week (despite my absence) and the whole school was really thrilled with result.
For half term Dean and his family went to visit their zoo in Borth, leaving me to paint a gothic bedroom for a young girl in Maidstone. After discussing the design at length with Dean and planning how to tackle the first room I would be working on alone from the start, I got to the clients house on Monday morning to learn they had decided they wanted to go in a slightly different direction with their mural (from dungeon to graveyard). This is completely fine and does happen, but I would be lying if I said the change didn’t initially throw me! After a few panicked phone calls to Dean (and some facebook messages… and texts… poor Dean), I finally decided what I was doing and got on with painting the ceiling and background. There were a few more setbacks during the week, but it’s all a learning curve I guess! After a few sleepless nights the mural was starting to take shape. I painted the sky a deep midnight blue and painted the milkyway and thousands of stars across it. Dean had painted a woodland fairy themed mural for this client about eight years ago when his daughter was a little girl, but now she was approaching 13 she wanted something a little more grown up (and spooky!), so I had to rub down the walls with sandpaper and then apply a coat of grey emulsion to cover the previous mural and to give me a base for the new one. It felt a little sad covering up some of Deans previous work, but as lovely as fairies are they weren’t suitable for a tennager any longer. I drew in the horizon (as I wanted a spooky foggy effect, this was a lot lower than it would usually be as you wouldn’t be able to see very far into the distance) and then started adding texture and fogginess to the sky in random light and dark patches. Next I drew out the main features of the mural, faint buildings, gravestones and the huge dragon that would be crouching on a giant skull. I could then start adding in details, starting from the furthest away (tiny faint grave stones and lots of mist) and gradually working my way forward, making the objects increasingly darker in colour the closer they became. Right in the foreground I added some simple silhouettes of gravestones and crosses in solid black all around the lower section of the walls. This was the main component of the reference photograph that client asked for, I just added a little more background to add depth and to open out the room. When dean returned the following week, he added some large spooky tree silhouettes whilst I painted the dragon. The client asked for a Game of Thrones style dragon, so I made him a little scary but added some bright blue into his mouth and chest to add a little colour and to tie it in with the ceiling. The rest of the dragon was painted in monotone to keep it the same as the rest of the room. We then included some finishing touches such as bats in the sky, a raven and some glow in the dark paint on the ceiling and on certain parts of the mural to make them stand out. This really was a challenge for me as confidence is something I don’t only have trouble with at work, but in pretty much all aspects of my life! I think it was definitely a good experience, if extremely stressful at times, but once I could visualise what I was doing I really enjoyed painting the room and making something that I would have wanted a teenage goth! We’ve had some really great feedback from the work on social media, which has helped to boost my confidence a little. All the comments and shares really help to give our work a wider audience and we really appreciate everyones kind words and positivity.
Next week, weather permitting, we will be heading back to Wokingham to carry on with the large underpass mural we started at the end of last year. There has apparently been a little graffiti put on parts of the mural, but we can patch this up and then we will coat it with anti-graffiti varnish, meaning that if it happens again the graffiti can be easily cleaned off.
As I type this the sun is shining and storm Doris seems to have gone on her merry way. Spring is getting closer and those warm days without coats and scarfs are almost in reach!
Until next time,