I’ve painted some murals in my time… Okay, so I’ve painted one (and two halves).
But anyway, I figured it was time to talk about the art of wall painting, because with one mural (and two halves) under my belt, I think I know about all there is to know. (Note: sarcasm.) Anywho, if you’ve been dying to paint on your wall, I’m here to help. It’s a lot less daunting than you might think.
Step 1. Gather Materials
Okay, so what do you need to start? Honestly, you actually don’t need that much.
If you have:
- acrylic paints
- paint brushes
- something to hold water (hello, Styrofoam cup!)
- something to hold paint (like a palette… or a paper plate….)
then you’re good to go!
No need to worry about paint clothes. You’re an artist. Paint streaked clothes is your trademark. 😉
“But wait!” you say, “what about, like, paintbrush cleaner?” Great question. (And one I did a lot of Google searches on when I first picked up my Hobby Lobby paint brushes.) Don’t worry, we’ll get to that later.
Step 2. Prepare Your Wall
This is probably the easiest step of the mural process.
- Wipe off your wall with a damp rag.
- Dry your wall with a clean towel.
- Tape your trim with masking tape.
- Put down drop cloths.
Step 3. Outline (Optional)
Okay, at this point I’m assuming you’ve already decided what you want to paint on your wall. Now it’s up to you whether you want to draw an outline or not.
If you’re following a Bob Ross tutorial on your bedroom wall, like so many others have, then I would say you probably don’t need to. But if you’re doing something with a lot of details that you need to get accurate, I would highly recommend drawing an outline first. (and if you want, you can read my post on drawing an accurate outline here.)
Step 4. Break Out the Paints
Pull out your trusty paint apron, get your acrylics out, ’cause it’s time to start slapping paint on that wall.
But first, a quick run down for those who are unfamiliar with acrylics.
painting with acrylics 101 (kind of)
they’re water based
This means you can thin them to an extent with water. Just don’t take it overboard, or things may not turn out well for your mural.
they dry really fast
While oils can stay wet for hours, or sometimes days, acrylics should be dry enough to paint over in about 15-20 minutes. This is really handy for mural painting because you can just work all day with minimum waiting/drying time before going to the next layer.
executing wet on wet
Wet on wet is exactly what it sounds like: painting with wet paint on top of wet paint. Whenever you’re doing wet on wet with acrylics, always make sure the paint you’re painting with is thinner—or wetter—than what’s on the wall. If you get this mixed up, the drier paint on your brush is going to lift up the wetter paint on your wall, and you’ll end up with a hole in your painting. I’ve done this so many times it’s not even funny.
Like I said before, acrylics are water based. this means you don’t need to mess with turpentine and all that smelly madness. All you need is a little soap and water. You can buy some nice brush cleaner if you so desire, but I’ve found hand soap or even hand sanitizer works pretty well and will keep your brushes in pretty good shape.
Step 5. Make Your Mural
There’s really not much to say here. Painting a mural, especially for the first time is a learning experience. Embrace it, learn from it, and have fun making something beautiful. It’s really not as scary as it sounds.
It’s almost exactly like painting on canvas. Except that you’re painting on a wall, not canvas, so there’s a little texture difference, and no bounce when you’re whacking your brush against the wall.
The point is, you can do it. I believe in you.
Step 6. Perform the Many Positions of a Professional Muralist
‘Nough said. 😏
Step 7. To Seal or Not to Seal
So what now? You’ve pretty much finished the mural, but do you need to paint some sort of sealer over it, or what? Well, like I’ve been saying throughout post… It’s kind of up to you. (Very helpful, I know.) I would say, in most cases, yes, you might want to paint a sealer over your mural, just because most acrylics aren’t completely waterproof, and it’s nice to have that extra protection.
But if you were just having fun and you’re not too worried about your mural rubbing off or getting damaged over time, then you don’t need to worry about sealer.
Step 8. Abandonment
It’s time to pick up your drop cloths, rip of that masking tape, and wash your brushes for the last time. (Just don’t forget to sign your work first.)
Whether you got it done in one day, or over the course of several months, you’re finished. Or are you?
As da Vinci once said:
“Art is never finished, only abandoned.”
~ Leonardo da Vinci
I’ll leave you on that note.
I hope this post has helped you find the courage to paint on your own wall (for those of you who want to 😉).
Until next time, stay lionhearted!