Wednesday, September 07, 2011

The Dragonfly Mural Project

Scanning down  my list of posts I found this one. It was a "draft!" 
"You mean I never published it?" I cried.
Hoo boy. This was several months ago. just in case you are interested...!

The Dragonfly Mural
I finished a dragonfly mural the other day. Actually it started out as a mural in concept. It was planned to decorate one wall in a baby boy's room. (The expectant parents are currently awaiting his birth!) Then, during discussion with the clients they realized it might be better to have me paint it on a removable surface so that if/when they move to another house, they wouldn't have to say good-bye to it! 

After the client supplied me with a stack of beautiful prints of dragonfly images he had photographed, I drew up some sketches for them to approve.
A second meeting brought approval, with some changes (adding a couple more dragonflies, background foliage, a butterfly and a ladybug or two).
My ever-helpful husband lent a hand to cut my piece of Masonite, complete with nicely rounded edges to the rectangle, which I think, gives the piece a more kid-friendly, fun feel, I think. The nice benefit to me of being able to work on Masonite was, I could work on it at home, in spurts of time in between other activities. (Multi-tasking seems to be in my blood.  Not that I necessarily love to multi-task; it just came with the territory once I had multiple kids within a short span of years, and the need for it hasn't gone away yet!)
After priming the board, I gave it a light blue sky background with a few passing clouds. After that, I mixed up several green colors for some of the background foliage and applied the paint using a variety of non-brush tools like wadded up saran wrap and paper towels. Using the wad sort of like a stamp, I loaded the color onto a palette, stomped the wad onto the palette to pick up color and then pounced gently onto the lower areas of the design, constantly moving the angle, pressure and position, to vary the marks made.
I then went about the task of transferring images from sketch to board, painting in the additional items, and adding a half-inch-wide dark brown border around the whole piece. Enclosing the image within the border helped to create a sort of “window” effect, without there actually being a window painted there, and the facing wall in the room is a similar color-dark brown paneling, so I felt it would be a good choice. Dark brown also gave more contrast between the image and the white wall behind where it will be placed, creating a more striking appearance.
Speaking of where it goes on the wall, that wonderful husband of mine along with a good friend of ours, Dave, helped with the installation method. Three long pieces of wood, two of them adhered to the back of the Masonite, and one to the wall, should allow this mural to hang securely in place through many years of toddler/boyhood activity!
Some considerations we made during initial discussions:
   1-Using Masonite will be stronger that a hanging canvas painting would be, especially when the little boy decides to throw his toys across the room during a game of Star Wars...
   2-Finishing the painting with a couple coats of a clear matte varnish will help protect it from little child-sized fingerprints, maybe even some Crayola marker fun...? (no guarantees here, though! Some markers are permanent!)

One last thought:
One aspect I enjoy when I do a project like this – a fun image for a child’s room – is, thinking about the viewer’s reaction to what I have painted. It’s nice to think that this child may grow up with a bit more spark for his imagination, and maybe a little more appreciation of our wonderful natural world and the creatures that live within it!

My next project: a custom lettering job for an old house built in 1810!

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