I can hardly contain my excitement over the idea of becoming a grandmother for the first time! My first grandchild (a boy to be named Miles) is due in a week and three days from today. As we all know, babies will make their appearance when they are good and ready!

My daughter asked me to paint a mural for Mile’s room. I decided to create this mural on canvas rather than paint it directly onto the wall of the nursery. My reasoning was partly selfish in that I didn’t want my hard work to be in vain when Miles outgrows the mural, or if my daughter and son in law decide to move someday.

My daughter has always been an animal lover and is ‘mom’ to her own menagerie: two dogs, four cats, and three chinchillas. She did own several rabbits as well at one time. While I love animals as well, I do not have the same inclination to own a menagerie such as hers. Instead I honor┬ámy love of animals by painting them. Well, I am ‘mom’ to two kitties…..

My daughter and I decided that the theme of the mural would be animals, African animals to be exact. Over the last few years I have been visiting zoos and have amassed a fair amount of photo reference from those visits. It was armed with those photo references , as well as random landscape, mountain, tree references that I began the mural. I want to note that because it is for a nursery and a child I didn’t feel the need to have everything in scale. My engineer daughter and engineer son in law may have a different opinion on that. I am calling it ‘artistic license.’

My excitement to get started overshadowed my normal need to research first thus mistake number one was made. I went to my local art supply store (which is the BEST! www.fineartstore.com) and purchased a roll of acrylic primed canvas. I took whatever they had. After beginning the project I realized that perhaps I should research the technique of mural painting a bit and discovered that I should have bought a heavy weight canvas. It certainly would have alleviated some of the wrinkling I was experiencing when painting the grisaille. The mural is cut to 28″ high by 80″ long. Since I don’t have available wall space to tack it to I began working out on the hallway outside my studio at the Hungerford. That worked okay for the first few days and then I realized that once I was putting oil paint on the canvas it was going to be very difficult taking it down at the end of every day and bringing it back into my studio. It was also getting hot here where I live and while my air conditioning was on in my studio, there is no air conditioning in the hallway. I wondered what was wrong with that picture!!

My solution to my problem was in two 30″ x 40″ thick pieces of gatorbord taped together with a scrap piece as an additional support at the seam. I then stapled the canvas to the gatorbord. I moved my two large easels together and now have a good support system for working on the mural!

mural setup

mural setup

While stretching it and stapling did not get out all of the wrinkles it is so much better than when I was working in the hallway!

The finished grisaille:

mural grisaille

mural grisaille

Stop back over the next few weeks to see my progress on ‘ A Mural for Miles’!