Appalachian Mural Trail





       Mural Painting Techniques

    There are a variety of techniques for painting public murals including fresco, encaustic, mosaic, stained glass and photography. The type of mural of most interest to contemporary artists is either painting on canvas or art board, which is then attached to a wall or painting directly on the wall surface itself.

    How to paint a mural depends on what you’re interested in painting. First you sketch out your idea, prepare the surface for painting and gather supplies needed for your particular surface. Then you transfer your image to the prepared surface using a grid system. Then the painting begins! It is highly recommended that you take a class in mural painting before you start your first mural.

    Several Techniques used in
      Mural History


    A fresco painting, from the Italian word affresco which derives from the adjective fresco ("fresh"), describes a method in which the paint is applied on plaster on walls or ceilings. The buon fresco technique consists of painting in pigment mixed with water on a thin layer of wet, fresh, lime mortar or plaster. The pigment is then absorbed by the wet plaster; after a number of hours, the plaster dries and reacts with the air: it is this chemical reaction which fixes the pigment particles in the plaster. After this the painting stays for a long time up to centuries in fresh and brilliant colors.

    Fresco-secco painting technique is done on dry plaster (secco is "dry" in Italian). The pigments thus require a binding medium, such as egg (tempera), glue or oil to attach the pigment to the wall.

    Mezzo-fresco is painted on nearly-dry plaster, and was defined by the sixteenth-century author Ignazio Pozzo as "firm enough not to take a thumb-print" so that the pigment only penetrates slightly into the plaster. By the end of the sixteenth century this had largely displaced the buon fresco method, and was used by painters such as Gianbattista Tiepolo or Michelangelo. This technique had, in reduced form, the advantages of a secco work.

                 Material

    In Greco-Roman times, mostly encaustic colors applied in a cold state were used. Tempera painting is one of the oldest known methods in mural painting. In tempera, the pigments are bound in an albuminous medium such as egg yolk or egg white diluted in water.

    In 16th-century Europe, oil painting on canvas arose as an easier method for mural painting. The advantage was that the artwork could be completed in the artist's studio and later transported to its destination and there attached to the wall or ceiling. Oil paint may be a less satisfactory medium for murals because of its lack of brilliance in colour. Also the pigments are yellowed by the binder or are more easily affected by atmospheric conditions. The canvas itself is more subject to rapid deterioration than a plaster ground. [citation needed] Different muralists tend to become experts in their preferred medium and technique, whether that be oil paints, emulsion or acrylic paints applied by brush, roller or airbrush/aerosols. Clients will often ask for a particular style and the artist may adjust to the appropriate technique.

    A consultation usually leads to a detailed design and layout of the proposed mural with a price quote that the client approves before the muralist starts on the work. The area to be painted can be gridded to match the design allowing the image to be scaled accurately step by step. In some cases the design is projected straight onto the wall and traced with pencil before painting begins. Some muralists will paint directly without any prior sketching, preferring the spontaneous technique.

    Once completed the mural can be given coats of varnish or protective acrylic glaze to protect the work from UV rays and surface damage.

    In modern, quick form of muralling, young enthusiasts also use POP clay mixed with glue or bond to give desired models on a canvas board. The canvas is later set aside to let the clay dry. Once dried, the canvas and the shape can be painted with your choice of colors and later coated with varnish.

    As an alternative to a hand-painted or airbrushed mural, digitally printed murals can also be applied to surfaces. Already existing murals can be photographed and then be reproduced in near-to-original quality.

    The disadvantages of pre-fabricated murals and decals are that they are often mass-produced and lack the allure and exclusivity of an original artwork. They are often not fitted to the individual wall sizes of the client and their personal ideas or wishes can not be added to the mural as it progresses. The Frescography technique, a digital manufacturing method invented by Rainer Maria Latzke addresses some of the personalisation and size restrictions.

    Digital techniques are commonly used in advertisements. A "wallscape" is a large advertisement on or attached to the outside wall of a building. Wallscapes can be painted directly on the wall as a mural, or printed on vinyl and securely attached to the wall in the manner of a billboard. Although not strictly classed as murals, large scale printed media are often referred to as such. Advertising murals were traditionally painted onto buildings and shops by sign-writers.

    Today’s muralists creatively use surfaces in an unlimited variety of ways. Many artists incorporate the use of techniques which combine realism with a dramatic sense of scale and amazing depth, combined with an extraordinary sense of detail., telling the stories of their own 'moment in time.'