This mural covers an entire wall, probably about 14’x9’, and then continues around the corner for about another 2’, before ending at a kitchen counter. I especially like how that little bit of wall mural between the kitchen and family room gives a tiny preview of the full mural, and bridges the two rooms.
My favorite technique to explore in painting is the feeling that you can walk right into the picture, a sort of super-scale trompe l'oeil effect, which has kind of become my specialty. This room happened to have an incredible stone floor that really lent itself to this idea, and it was a very satisfying challenge to reproduce that floor in the mural. This is where it helps to have a reference to work from, like the Art of Illusion, A Trompe l’Oeil Painting Course, which gave me tremendous help with the perspective of a floor, or street, that is continuing into the distance. Although I admit I didn’t work out all the geometry, it still showed me how the size and scale of the stones would change as they got further away. Don’t let the complexities of exact perspective scare you- if you just stand back and look at what you have painted pretty often, you will be able to tell if something is “off,” then just look at other paintings to see how that particular effect is accomplished by other artists. The real beauty of paint is that it is fairly cheap, and you can just paint over your mistakes, and start again. I do recommend painting over mistakes before you go home for the day, as it tends to scare a client if you leave them there so they can look at them all evening. I almost always find that the next day, with rested eyes and a fresh outlook, the solution seems obvious, and the painting is fun again!
These clients were very interested in the design process, and almost every day we talked about how to work things into the mural that would personalize it. It’s great to be able to develop and change the ideas as you go, because it makes the final mural much more meaningful and special. These folks also had a great sense of humor, so we were able to play with the design in lots of ways. The Eiffel Tower is certainly not geographically correct, but its inclusion stamps the location as unmistakably Paris. One of the restaurants in the distance is named after the wife, and another café is named “Bouche de la Mouche,” which is a French play on words, translated literally as “the mouth of the fly.” It’s actually an expression my high school French teacher liked to use when describing something really cool. The wine shop’s name means “very expensive wines”, and we added a Ghirardelli chocolate shop to reflect one of their favorite indulgences. Some of the wines carry their favorite labels, and they chose the titles of the books in the bookshop window. The wine labels were actually printed from the internet, and decoupaged to the wall, over the hand-painted wine bottles. This is a technique I developed and use quite often, and I haven’t ever found it in any book or online instructions.
The other side of the family room is painted with a mural of the store-fronts of Paris shops- a hat shop, and a bakery or Patisserie. Together these paintings take you directly to a French adventure.