Friday, February 27, 2009

Crumbling Wall Mural - the video

This was the main reason for painting the crumbling wall effect that I wrote about in my last post.

I have been meaning to put together a video of my mural work for ages now. I have done a lot of video editing for my family over the last few years - ever since we ditched the old PC and got an iMac about four years ago - yes, I am one of the converted : )

The bundled iLife software also included a fantastic video editing suite and now every year I produce a DVD of all the family footage I have shot.

The actual painting itself probably took about four hours to paint over a couple of days. I then had about an hour & a half of footage to edit down into about three minutes. This process has taken an awful lot longer than actually painting the thing in the first place : )

Hopefully this will be the first of many - if any of you have any suggestions for a video then I'd love to hear them - no lewd suggestions though ; )

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Crumbling Wall Mural

I've been working on one of my favorite paint effects - The Crumbling Wall.

I first tried out this effect about 15 years ago in my old office. At the time I was not particularly proficient in effects like stone blocking, marbling and rag-rolling so my decision to paint a derelict wall was almost like a reaction against those type of effects.

Marbling has an elegant and luxurious feel whereas a crumbling plaster effect looks like a wall in bad repair. I enjoyed this stark contrast - it's my rebellious paint effect and over time it has become my signature piece.

Over the years I have painted this effect many times in my customer's homes and also in a few Italian restaurants where the effect unselfishly lends itself to painted Mediterranean views and the odd trompe l'oeil glass of wine. It also works especially well in sun-baked conservatories.

I have also featured the effect in my first book, 'Trompe L'Oeil Interiors', as a step-by-step project. Since I wrote the book nearly seven years ago I have slightly evolved the way I paint it - to be honest every time I paint it I do something slightly different.

It is also quite a relaxing effect to paint as it requires minimal planning - I just start with a basic idea of where I want the exposed brickwork to be and then just sketch it out loosely with a paint brush and build it up from there. This ensures that the effect is kept as natural as possible - there is a danger that too much planning will reflect in the finished piece looking too contrived.

My main reason for painting this project will be revealed soon - it is something I have been meaning to try out for some time.

Watch this space - all will be revealed soon.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Had another trip up to London today for a belated birthday meal. My wife & I booked a table at the Gaucho Canary in the London Docklands where we enjoyed a fantastic sea food starter followed by their renowned Argentine fillet steak with plenty of sides and of course some red wine to wash it down.
I thoroughly recommend a visit to their restaurants - we have also tried the Gaucho Broadgate in the past which is also worth a visit if just to admire the fantastic design of the restaurant .

After our meal we caught a train to Greenwich as I was keen to pay a visit to the Royal Observatory. The walk from the station across Greenwich Park and up the hill to the the observatory was just what we needed after such a filling meal.

On the way up I took a quick snap shot with my mobile of the view down to the Queen's House and National Maritime Museum with the Docklands in the background.

By the time we got up the hill it was getting on for 4:00pm so all we had time for was a show in the Planetarium. The last time I visited a planetarium was when I was a child. We intend to bring our two children back here as I'm sure they will love the experience, as we certainly did.

We bought my son Adam a telescope for his birthday a few months ago as he had expressed a keen interest in the stars & planets - especially after I painted his room with glow-in-dark stars.
It is a Newtonian reflector, and at first it was a bit daunting as I really had no idea on how to use the thing properly.
Luckily I had a lot of help from Andy from my wife's side of the family.

Andy is a keen amateur astronomer and showed me how to align the telescope's axis to the North Star Polaris amongst many other things. Before then had no idea where or who Polaris was or how to identify the myriad constellations that surround it. I am a bit better now and whenever we are out with the children on a clear night, I pass on some of my limited knowledge.

My daughter Hannah can now identify the constellation of Orion by finding the three stars that make up his belt. She can also point out Venus which is very bright in the sky at the moment and you can usually see it before it gets dark.

The weather suddenly changed on our trek home from the observatory and as I type this the snow is pilling up outside. The snow means lots of cloud cover so unfortunately I will not be able to venture outside this evening with the telescope : (

As a consolation I can always stargaze on my children's ceilings which comes a close second best : )

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

An Association of Professional Muralists

Today was the first meeting in 2009 of the APM - An Associataion of Professional Muralists.

We try to meet up about two of three times a year and we have adopted 'The Chandos', just off Trafalgar Square, as our meeting place. To be more specific, we venture upstairs to the 'Opera Rooms' where we can relax on leather sofas by an open fire and have plenty of space to lay out our portfolios.

I thoroughly recommend a visit if you are in the vicinity. You will find it on St. Martins Lane opposite the National Portrait Gallery and a stones throw from the National Gallery. The drinks are very reasonably priced as well - in case you were in need on any more persuasion : )

Four of us made it to the meeting today - our 5th and newest member Richard Bagguley is busy painting across the pond in Los Angeles. You can see what he is up to by reading his blog
Of course he was missed by all, but on the plus side we did have more room to slouch on the comfy sofas.

I felt it was about time we had a group photo and here it is.
The usual suspects are - from left to right - yours truly, Anna Smith, Gordon Collett and Denise Cliffen. You can see their websites and find out more about their work by following this link - APM.

But what, you may be asking, are the APM about ? - well in a nutshell -

We are a self monitored group of independent artists with our own unique styles, clients, methods and cost structures.

Our aims are -

* To promote the use of murals in both public and private spaces, for both decorative and architectural use.

* To advocate a pursuit of excellence in the art and to conduct works in a reliable and highly professional manner by encouraging standards of good practice.

* To foster an environment of goodwill for the sharing of knowledge and experience and thus encouraging the development of the professional and artistic interests of our members.

* To provide the prospective and established client with over 50 years experience, a wide choice of styles and techniques with the assurance of a professional approach and to assist in sourcing an appropriate muralist for works considered.

We do find that the social aspect of our meetings is a welcome bonus as generally our work can be quite solitary.
We have also worked together occasionally on various projects - you may have seen Gordon & myself, frantically painting as if our lives depended on it, on "60 Minute Makeover" and "DIY SOS".
I have also worked with Denise on commissions in Essex and Gordon likewise with Anna.

I also hope to be helping out (in a small capacity) with some Venetian plastering with Richard when a suitable opportunity arises. Don't forget me Richard : )

Hopefully our next meeting in the summer will be a full house - fingers crossed.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Murals Revisited

Hello again and Happy New Year - I know its February but better late than never. I could wish a Happy Chinese New Year in which case I'm still a week late : )
I have been meaning to get back into the blogging for the last few weeks - hopefully I will make up for lost ground over the coming weeks.

Anyway - I digress

I revisited two of my clients last week for whom I painted a Peter Pan theme nursery for their expectant baby to be. The baby is now a bouncing eight month old boy and the room I painted for him last year is now furnished to a very high standard.

The clients were very keen for the room to be relaxing so I kept the colours quite muted and with the addition of a colourwash to the surrounding walls it gave a subtle parchment effect. The dimensions and positioning of the two murals were designed around the furniture that was to go into the room.
I worked with the furniture manufacturers specifications because the actual furniture was yet to be delivered when I was working on the murals. The furniture itself has an ivory finish so again it was important for me to the get the colours of the walls right to ensure that everything looked right together. I was quite taken back to see the room furnished as when I last saw the room it had bare floorboards.

The mural has also been a great help, so I am informed, with the baby's bedtime routine. He now says goodnight to all the characters on his wall before turning in.
I have also painted a rather voluptuous Tinker-bell overlooking his cot which I'm sure he will appreciate more as he gets older : )