We have a detached garage which we see the backside of when we spend time in our backyard. Half of it is siding and the other half is an old non-functional metal door. It also has a window. Our backyard is surrounded by our chicken coop and vegetable garden on one side and a small strip of soil patch where I plant bulb flowers on the other. Obviously looking at the plastic siding of the garage is not very pleasant to the eye. I thought a scenic view on the garage would . I thought I could paint a mural on our garage.
Back around 2013 or so, I started to research ideas for murals. I pinned images I liked to my Pinterest board, which inspired the contents of the mural. I imagined a stone house with flowers in hanging planters on one side and an arched veranda overlooking Tuscan hills decked with poplar trees on the other. I had no idea how I would do it, but with bits and pieces from various paintings, a vision started to evolve.
I sketched my rough idea on a paper pad, decided what basic colors I would need, and visited a hardware store. I got multiple cans of exterior paint of selected colors. I cleaned the siding and the metal surface from all the dust, cobwebs, and moss. I outlined the mural on the clean garage wall. I started to paint the mural in April 2014. I started with what I thought was the simplest section, the awning. Then I painted the columns and the sky where the Tuscan landscape was supposed to be.
When I was finished with those sections, I stepped back and checked my work. I was completely dissatisfied with the result. The mural looked very amateurish and honestly, I didn’t know how to make it better. This resulted in making up excuses and procrastinating to complete the mural for the next 6 years. The first set of paints I purchased dried up. I attempted to get back to it few times but Spring and Summers were always busy.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic happened. Schools and work were moved to home. There was no more business travel. We were practically stuck within the perimeters of our home and the backyard. I had no excuse but to finish that mural.
I drew my sketches again. I changed the scenery from the Tuscan valley to the Mediterranean coast. I purchased new paint from the hardware store and I set out to paint the mural again.
Materials I used:
- Pencil for outlining
- White exterior primer paint
- Pint of 100% acrylic exterior paint (12 colors)
- Multiple brushes from 2″ paintbrush to fine tipped acrylic brush
- Lots of paper plates for blending colors
- Brush cleaning soap
- Americana Acrylic Sealer/Finisher Spray
I mostly paint with watercolors on watercolor paper and cccasionally with colored pencils and oil pastels. Acrylic paint on the uneven exterior surface was a completely new experience for me. I had a vision of the painting but when the paint dried on the siding and it didn’t look as I imagined
I decided to work on my mindset first, then my painting skills. I decided to tackle one section at a time. I decided which section to work on the day before. I did color studies, checked how the colors looked when dried for that section. I noted the paint color ratios and estimated how much paint I would need for that color without having to reblend. I googled for sample images and taped the print outs right in front of me while I was painting.
As Anne Lamott wrote her paper “bird by bird”, I worked through the mural “section by section” until I finished it.
The time-lapse video of the painting process:
This is the complete finished mural on the garage. This is what we see everyday when we get out to our backyard now.
When I look closely, I see lots of imperfections but it’s finished. I’m proud of my completed work. Upon the suggestion of my neighbor, I added curtains, which I made using remnant lace from my craft projects, in the window.
I am also proud of myself that I got better at painting with acrylic by the end of this project. Honestly, I did a darn good job with the black cat and the clouds. Now that I have these murals, I’m putting them to work as a background for my Instagram photos.
Chicago winters are brutal. Summer storms aren’t any better either. Therefore, I got this Americana Acrylic Sealer / Finisher spray to protect my mural forever. User tip: wear a mask when spraying this product.
Don’t forget to watch the time-lapse video of me painting this scenic landscape mural on our garage.