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The Pantry
The Beauty of Murals
By Andrew Ritchie

Decorative murals have been part of households for centuries and an expression of culture for even longer. Nearly every culture in the world has expressed its historical evolution through the creation of murals, using chalks, paints, inks and pencils to recreate a dramatic event in history or preserve, on the very walls of civilization, the essence of a cultural ideal.

The techniques for creating murals vary from place to place and have evolved over time to include some fantastic new ways of decorating the walls of a room, or the exterior of a building.

One of the simplest and most inexpensive techniques for beginners is the use of projection and tracing. The concept is easy. You take a simple image and project it onto the wall, tracing it lightly with a soft pencil. Once the image has been drawn on the wall, you can then “fill in the blanks” with your choice of paint. The results can be fantastic and, for the less artistically inclined, it’s a simple way of confidently creating a mural on any wall in the home.

Another way to use shadows is to use objects, such as tropical plants or things with fine features that will cast interesting shadows, as the foundation for the shadow projection. After arranging the plants or objects in the desired positions, you shine an intense light behind them, projecting their shadows on to the wall. You then follow the same techniques described above: trace the outline of the shadow and paint within the space. You could fill a large, blank wall with, what look to be, the shadows of foliage from exotic tropical plants, adding an intriguing design element. By placing the light closer or further away from the objects, you can change the shape and size of the shadows, distorting them as you wish.

You can be as colorful or as subtle as you like. For the subtle approach, use a shade of paint that is only slightly darker than the shade of the wall you are painting it on. This will make it look like a real shadow. In a room with little light, it can be a very effective way to trick the eye.

For the more adventurous artist, the sky is not necessarily the limit! Entire rooms can be painted as outdoor spaces with terraces, lattice fencing, sweeping gardens and a blue sky filled with puffy white clouds. You can incorporate fantasy creatures like dragons and wizards in kids’ rooms or paint false French doors and windows leading to imaginative spaces beyond. For a more subtle effect, intricate crown moldings can be painted on, with shadows to create a relief effect, or the faded branches of a Japanese maple, cascading over the arch of an entranceway.

Murals, however, are not only for indoor spaces. In fact, murals are most commonly seen on the exterior walls of buildings or in public spaces, like community centers, schools and transit stations.

In one small town in Ontario, Canada, murals are the claim to fame. Athens, Ontario, is located a short drive from Ottawa with a population of just 1000 people. The town, however, features 12 enormous historical murals on the sides of shops and homes, denoting the town’s elaborate history. It was a project that began in 1986 thanks to the suggestions of the town’s former reeve, John Dancy. Today, the Athens Historical Mural Committee is in charge of keeping the murals in good condition and locating new and interesting spaces for more murals to come.

Just about every city in North America has at least one public mural, and museums are filled with murals, which make excellent and colorful teaching guides for visitors. One of the most spectacular murals is located in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. Painted by artist Ely Kish, it is a vast mural depicting a prehistoric underwater scene, filled with the toothy creatures that existed in our seas millions of years ago. It is a truly spectacular sight to behold.

Murals, then, have multiple uses but they are always attractive to look at, often surprising us with their detail and color. They can add an artistic effect to a living room or bedroom, office or waiting room, or they can be used as educational tools, fixing a moment in time on a wall or representing the emotional and historical influences of an entire culture for anyone to see.

Search the links below for more information about murals and read about some techniques that the professionals use. Featured among the links are some of the companies that provide mural-painting services in the U.S.A. and Canada.

Resources

www.fauxlikeapro.com - U.S.

www.wonderfaux.com - U.S.

www.washingtonwall.com - U.S.

www.stucco-as-art.com - Canada

www.athensontario.com - Canada

Comments? Write to Andrew

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