New Play Room Mural

Well, this has definitely been the year of fantasy / fairy / whimsical murals for me! They are actually a lot of fun to paint as there is no right or wrong and we can let our imaginations run wild. Right now I’m working in an attic room (in a gorgeous home) that is about 14′ long and has a ceiling of about 5 feet…so I’ve been super excited at the prospect of not using ladders for this project!

… and then I realized that with my 5’10” stature, I will basically be walking around very hunched over or crawling around the entire time. The. Entire. Time. Yes, there is carpeting, which I am incredibly grateful for, and I have a small stool that I can use in some areas. I didn’t think it would be that big of a deal, but I’m already feeling it after two days. I am not complaining, though. This is way better than working on ladders in a stairwell where I could fall and die!

Looking through the 3-1/2 foot high french doors into the fairy playroom.
Looking through the 3-1/2 foot high french doors into the fairy playroom.

There are quite a few things going on in this room, so for now I’ll focus on this end wall. It took a few hours to sketch most of the elements in the entire room and tape off trim. I generally paint from the top to the bottom, so after I painted the sky I started working on the distant hills. We won’t talk about those parts of the wall that are tucked in the corners beyond the 2′ deep cabinet. I will just say that it helps to have long arms and that I’ve been doing yoga for a few years now.

Fantasy Playroom, Progress 1


For this mural I decided to use burnt sienna for the background of the grasses in order to add more depth and develop some richer colors. This is the point when customers generally start to question my ability to paint, wonder what their finished mural will actually look like, and wonder if it is too late to get a refund.

Close range hills are blocked in with an orange/brown color.

Meanwhile, I need that paint to dry so it’s time to add texture to the crumbling stone walls in the mural. I have these stones on both end walls so it was a lot of crawling back and forth, which I’d rather do on carpeting than on a plank! If anyone cares about how I painted the stones, first I added a thin brown glaze and let it dry. Then I added a darker glaze (with 4 different colors) in streaks and sponged it off. Then I added a light glaze over all of it. Then I added some divots and crevices with shadows and highlights and extra light glaze on the tops. I wish my brain would magically tell me how to do this entire process to make them look like stones, but it doesn’t. I studied Pierre Finkelstein’s process for one of the stone types in “The Art of Faux” and tweaked it with colors that work with this mural. I actually take this book with me while I paint because who on earth can remember that many steps and appropriate colors?!

Oh, and then I added a variety of light green grasses on top of the burnt sienna background and some whimsical curly grasses too. After finishing the waterfall.

Brown background is covered with a variety of green grasses.


Hey, here I am! Just in case you couldn’t envision the size of this room, I set the camera on my chair and took a photo. No, I do not have a selfie stick. They aren’t very handy anyway when you don’t have a smart phone.

Me sitting in front of the mural in progress to show scale.

One final photo for the day. I blocked in these “ghost” mushrooms so I can paint them colorfully tomorrow or sometime later this week. I’ll also be painting the entire cabinet, so I started getting more color on that. In case you are wondering what is up with that light brown spot between the bricks, that my friend will be another small waterfall that pours into the mural on the top of the cabinet. Stay tuned for some perspective work that will hopefully mess with your brain!

End of day progress with mushroom shapes blocked in and front of cabinet painted in burnt sienna.