Street in Paris

A preview to a dream vacation...the whole room has a french flair.Note how the tile floor seems to extend into the mural, adding to the multidimensional effect.

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Although I had painted a lot before this mural, it was certainly the most complex one I had attempted up to that time. My clients had a dream of visiting Paris, and gorgeous new family room to decorate. Early in my painting career, I was pretty good about documenting the process of the mural, which was very helpful whenever I had a client who was looking nervous after the first day or two of painting.  I can almost guarantee that no mural, in the first few days, looks like the artist knows what the hell she is doing! It’s always nice to be able to show how a mural progresses, so everyone knows what to expect.  I have to admit I became lax about taking before and after photos, and now I really regret not having those images to illustrate what kind of transformation can happen (which really means I wish I had documentation of what a cool thing I did for each job).before view of paris street mural
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.end of wall in paris street mural
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.floor perspective of paris street mural 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.eiffel tower paris street mural 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. cafe in paris street muralThe wine shop’s name means “very expensive wines”, wine shop awning paris street muraland we added a Ghirardelli chocolate shop to reflect one of their favorite indulgences. ghirardelli shop paris street muralSome 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. wine bottles in paris street mural
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.farview paris shops mural Together these paintings take you directly to a French adventure.