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MITRA Forum Question Details

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  • 1st MURAL Opportunity- Questions on how to get startedApproveRejectUn-ApproveSubscribeUn-Unsubscribe
    Question asked 2019-06-29 11:28:19 ... Most recent comment 2019-07-22 20:16:13
    Acrylic Mural Painting Handling and Transportation Rigid Supports Paint Making Pigments Grounds / Priming

    Hello, I was wondering if someone might be able to help me.

    I actually have 2 mural opportunities, but right now I'm trying to focus more on one over the other because it seems more 'involved.'

    One piece is to be mounted outdoors.  The other piece is to be placed over doors- that is to say, I believe the intention is that it be painted directly on them.  I do not know the door material or their dimension- nor the dimensions of the outdoor mural- but I do know the doors will have to function.  The mural-side of the door is at the interior of the building, the other side is to the exterior, like a garage door. It's a metal roll-up door.


    I need to figure out exactly what I need to spend in order to complete each project.

    I currently have:

    • Red Oak Plywood- Six 36in*36.5in pc.'s & 15 1Ft. sq. pc.'s all 3/4in. Thick
    • 10pack mini rollers for smooth-semi smooth surfaces - what should I use rollers for vs. brushes? Do I clean to re-use them or are they a single-use type of product?
    • 76mm angled Poly-blend bristle brush, for smooth & semi-smooth surfaces
    • 10 kit HDX Nitrile Disposable Gloves- 'not for use w/ chemicals'
      • Will these work w/ Varathane, GOLDEN Isolation Coat, & Primer?
    • KILZ 2 Latex Primer/sealer/stainblocker Multisurface (Drywall, masonry, galvanized, & more*) Interior/Exterior Water-based- re-coat in 1hour
    • Varathane Brand Ultimate SPAR URETHANE?, Oil-based, clear gloss- Recommends 3 coats & min 4hours dry time(sanding only if drying for 12+ hours) ==> notes cancer & reproductive harm as well as the need for adequate ventilation, but also the harm go humidity
      • Can I use this product outside?- where should I let it dry?

    It has been recommended that I get:

    • sand paper. 200 grit- I would be hand sanding to remove splinters - specif. @ he edges where the wood was cut, but I'm assuming I'd have to do the entire board for the primer to adhere - so I'm wondering if there's a correct way to do this...

    I think I need:

    • Goggles
    • Respirator
    • Coveralls 
    • Knee Pads
    • Mixing & Storage Containers
    • 1gal. Heavy Body Acrylic Paint-,at least 6 colors- including neutrals? (white, black, brown)
    • 1 Gal. Isolation Coat
    • 1 Gal. Solvent- for the Varathane?, I don't know the exact details of this product, but when I looked up polyurethane, it req.'d a solvent to be used
    • Mounting Hardware
    • Probably additional Painters Tape & Brushes

    All 'clothing items' are for the Varnish & finish products- everything appears to be highly toxic, don't know if there are safer alternatives.

    All amts were 'guess-timated' before the addition of the 2nd mural piece and it's different setting.


    I am still trying to come up with some sketches to determine the overall composition, but I am wondering:

    • How can I go about choosing colors?- The room is full of very 'non-modern?' colors, very little blues, purples, or even oranges and the colors are very muddy and dark.  I would like to choose a period-appropriate color scheme but still add some brightness to the colors I choose and some naturalistic purples and blues that go with the theme of the piece.  I want to make sure I have a large variety of colors, but not purchase unnecessary colors I could just take the time to measure out and mix.
      • Example- If I have a largely white background, fo I need to purchase white paint, or can I just use the Primer? Do I tint the Primer to make other neutrals or do i need to use paint
    • How can I go about estimating and pre-mixing any batches of specific colors to work with?
    • Is it possible to follow and early-1900s 'recipe' for specific colors and get a somewhat accurate result using paints purchased today?

    I'm thinking the wood panels would be used for the outdoor piece that would be on the side of a house and would not move.

    Some or all of these panels may also need to be shipped... I'm thinking some of the smaller panels could be used to flank the large doors.  The large panels may have to be shipped with some kind of mounting instructions.

    I currently trying to read through various MITRA posts, but these are the more pointed inquiries I can think of for myself...

    Thank You

Answers and Comments

  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    ​The first place to start is identifying the substrate and evaluating its condition. How a wall will be prepared for painting involves knowing what the material is, whether there is already paint in place and what kind, and does the wall or surrounding architecture need repair. Any sign of efflorescence (minerals exuding) or rust on a nail that has been pulled can indicate water damage. Cracks, of course, will need to be patched.

    Plywood panels are not a good choice for exterior murals exposed to the elements, unless the panels are made of an exterior-grade plywood made for siding. Even exterior-grade plywood may not prove durable long-term, to the standards of permanent art. 

    It's typical to provide sketches and consider requests from the client, but ideally the artist will have some freedom in the matter of composition and palette. Personally, I don't think 19th c treatises are very useful in directing color mixing. It's better, in my opinion, to use an objective color system like Munsell to get a handle on mixing solutions. 

    Not all brands of polyurethane varnish adhere equally well to acrylic paints. Some are less flexible and can flake off when used to coat paintings. I recommend testing prior to executing the final work, or using a bona fide artist's varnish that is tested for performance in this application.

    Matthew Kinsey, Utrecht Art Supplies
    2019-06-29 14:27:13
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    For outdoor murals executed on panels I recommend MDO board over any of the plywoods. Just make sure to seal the edges well and it will give superior performance.

    Brian Baade
    2019-07-01 15:37:18
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment


    I suppose in regards to the color question, I was wondering how I might insure I got the correct sort of hue for the types of colors available at the time?

    What if the plywood panels are charred? Would that make them more durable for outdoor applications?  Could paint be used over that char?- like acrylic or milk paint?

    2019-07-22 13:43:15
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    If I understand you correctly, when you write “charred” you are meaning slightly burnt? If so, no I would not recommend that under any circumstances as a painting substrate. If you did not mean that, sorry for the confusion.

    You question about appropriate color/hue choice is so broad that I hesitate to even know how to begin. I teach a color mixing and matching class that meets twice a week for 15 weeks, and we barely scratch the surface of color phenomena even as it relates to subtractive mixing of pigmented paints.

    In an effort to give you something, I will give you a few tentative suggestions. This will sound very conservative but bear with me. My first painting job was as a sign painter where I had to deal with similar issues on a daily basis. Personally, and only personally, I find that most muralists rely on far too highly saturated colors over the whole surface of their murals. When everything is super-saturated, you often end up with one of two effects. Either everything is rather eye searing, or more often, nothing really jumps out or is perceived as a center of focus (at least not coloristically) because there is no real contrast. Center of focus comes from contrast (from a contrast in value, hue, saturation, or a manipulating attention using  linear design).

    OK enough of the didactic rant. The above is an opinion and I would certainly violate it for certain effects or aesthetic choices. So, just a shot in the dark, in the instance that you mention, I would rely on a limited palette for most of the composition (earth colors, black, and white). I would then augment those with one or a few more saturated colors (not across the whole spectrum but just in the direction of one color and perhaps those adjacent to it (eg Blue, violet, and crimson, for instance). This will not work in every instance but it is a place to start. For commission like this, and when one is new to this process, it is generally best to work out a small scale sketch with most if not all of the design and general colored regions decided before working large scale. It is easy to become lost in large-scale compositions and smaller preliminary designs allow for weeding out elements that may not work or be distracting “in the large”.


    Brian Baade
    2019-07-22 20:16:13

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