On Painting a Forever Mural


When my grandson Miles was born three years ago (wow has it been three years already?!) I suggested to my daughter that I paint him a mural for his bedroom. She wholeheartedly agreed and chose the theme of African animals. A dear friend once told me, and several others in our studio, that taking on a new challenge, something we had never done before, was very rewarding.  Personally, I do have a yearning for a good challenge once in a while. I look at it as a way to grow and the by product is that I usually learn something new.

I knew from the beginning that I didn’t have the time to spare to camp out at my daughter and son in laws for several weeks to paint the mural directly onto Miles’ bedroom wall. I also knew that that would mean it was permanent, and most likely eventually have to be painted over.  The thought of all of that work disappearing at some point did not sound appealing to me.

I did some research online and that resulted with me purchasing a roll of acrylic primed canvas that I could cut to a specific size.  Measurements were taken and the mural was to be 36” high by 80” in length. Daunting to say the least, yes? How do I work on something like this? I solved this dilemma by purchasing two large pieces of gatorboard and used strips of wood and tape to create a ‘brace’ of sorts to hold the boards together.  I then stapled the canvas to the boards all the way around the edges. Placing my two large easels almost side by side enabled me to get the whole canvas set up for work.

African animals? I had photo reference of many zoo animals at that point so I sketched out on tracing paper some of the animals (a hippo, several giraffes, several elephants, a zebra etc) and then transferred those sketches to the canvas. I found reference for African landscape as the background for this mural. Then the fun began!

Once the mural was complete, and had dried, I applied several coats of Gamvar varnish.  When the varnish dried I rolled up the canvas and delivered it to my daughter. The mural was then tacked to the bedroom wall, and my daughter bought molding and tacked that to the wall to have it look like it is ‘framed’.  I personalized the mural by painting a likeness of my grandson near the baby elephant.

Since the completion of this mural, my granddaughter, Sophie,  was born and my grandson has since moved into another bedroom in the house. The mural was easy to move with him since we had done it this way!

Naturally I then had to do one for my granddaughter. The theme of that one was to be the universe. I followed the very same steps for her mural as I did for my grandson’s.  To personalize hers I chose to make her the ‘Little Prince (Princess).

Hers was mounted and ‘framed’ the same way.

A year later my son and his wife give birth to granddaughter #2, Annika,  so of course I have to do another mural, this time for her. My son and his wife are into flying, climbing and other adventures so the theme of this newest mural is planes, hot air balloons and Cathedral Peak, Yosemite. The two of them climbed Cathedral Peak and eloped! Cathedral Peak and Yosemite is the backdrop for the mural. My daughter in law owns an older yellow Piper plane so it must be in the mural. The two of them are currently building an RV 8 from a kit so that needs to be present and my son flies a Lear jet for work so it will be included as well.

The project is just barely begun but here are three images of what the intentions are.  My newest granddaughter will be the pilot of the RV 8 (image on the left bottom).

These are truly a labor of love and hopefully will be cherished over the years. They are fun to plan out and paint!


When was the last time you created something just for fun?