Murals and Trompe l’œil murals
Murals don’t necessarily need to be huge. On the Trompe l’oeil page you can see some examples of small scale paintings done directly onto walls. Therefore they are, by definition, murals. This page deals with large scale paintings. Paintings that can take months to complete. Please be aware that the cost of such paintings comes with time spent which is directly related to how much detail there is in the mural.
Walt Disney room trompe l’oeil
In this mural the whole room was painted in a trompe l’œil style but with cartoon figures. The doors are all shut and the window doesn’t exist, neither does the stair case down which Donald Duck is running.
This mural was painted for a child’s bedroom and took approximately 3 months to complete. The doors are completely flat and the panels do not exist but were painted on the doors in perspective.
As you can imagine, work like this does not come cheaply
Below are two details of the painting
The jungle room
This mural is not strictly a trompe l’œil. However there are elements in the design that are, and for that reason I have included it here.
The crashed plane was built by a carpenter friend and in actual fact is the child’s cupboards, drawers and school desk once the doors are opened.
The wood work is real and part of a 15 century house. The mural was painted in between the wooden structures.
The tail of the plane is a cupboard where school books were kept and the tail-plane is the desk. The wing with the letters G-1FC is the door to a wardrobe.
We also painted a bed for this room and made it look like broken crates with contents spilling out and with lizards and insects wandering over the surface. Unfortunately I never got photos of it.
The Barcelona banana stairwell
At 6·5m tall this banana trees mural was both fun and a nightmare. The nightmare bit was trying to fit the scaffolding up the stairs. It was also difficult for the owner every time she wanted to go up or down stairs. The painting took, from putting up the scaffold to taking it down, 10 days.
Over the years I have found that murals are best painted in areas that you don’t visit often. Bathrooms, stairwells, dining rooms and bedrooms are all good places. I’ve found that if the mural is in the sitting room or lounge the client tends to get bored with it fairly quickly. These murals are expensive – you don’t want to go painting it out in 5 years because you are tired of seeing it.
The Costa del Sol stairwell mural
The same idea as above, an effort to add interest to a large open and boring stairwell wall. Painted over an existing wall finish (done by the client) this knight stained glass was painted on a white base with glazes to give a bit more translucency to the work.
As with all trompe l’œil work, they really only work from one view point. From the top of the stairs the perspective on the window reveals would have looked distinctly odd.
El Molino del Cura – Thai Restaurant – Mijas Pueblo
El Molino del Cura was a Thai restaurant in Mijas Pueblo on the Costa del Sol. Origingally the owner had wanted me to fill the walls with bamboo. However, after painting there for two weeks he suddenly pulled the plug. In the meantime I had managed to acquire a further commission from him to build him a statue of a Thai Buddha which can be seen here.
The painting of Area 51
Area 51 bar in Fuengirola was owned by a young Swedish man obsessed with aliens. He wanted th outside seating area decorated to be in keeping with the interior. Due to the architectural mouldings on the bar front I was a little limited as to what I could do. After talking to Tommy for a while we decided to go with a stylised 1930s rocket feel, sort of like Flash Gordon.
The painting incorporated fluorescent paint so that the galaxies, stars, switches and video screens came to life when the UV lights were switched on in the evening.
Theatre and pantomime
Over the years I have painted a number of play and pantomime sets. Unfortunately very little photographic evidence still exists.
The play sets were painted for a troupe of Irish players who mounted the plays in various towns and villages throughout the Republic of Ireland. This lead to complications. Every theatre and play house had a different size stage or lay out. From a design point of view I was always taxed with how to make the sets changeable in size. Most often the set would be designed and painted on 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 foot wide “flats”. The challenge was to be able to make the flats removable to accommodate smaller stages without destroying the effect of the scene.
Play and panto sets are something I particularly enjoy painting. 90% of the time the conceptualisation was left up to me. The director and players had confidence in my ability to give them often strange and unusual sets. During my time in Ireland I won a number of prizes for play set painting.
The Post Horn Gallop play set
The painting here is for the play “The Post Horn Gallop”. A farce by Derek Benfield. The pencil drawing was for the concept of the sets. I didn’t much like this play, farces wouldn’t be my favourites.
On reading the script my mind was lead to thinking of children’s cartoon shows. So I decided to design the set with a “whacky” feel. Crooked and non-level lines. Absurd decoration. The portrait above the fireplace I painted to look like the Mona Lisa. This was the only change the director made, he felt it was over the top as the portrait was too well known. Luckily I have this photo of the original portrait in situ.
Play sets for The Field – John B. Keane
The three photos below are from the John B. Keane play The Field, made popular by the film of the same name starring Richard Harris, John Hurt and Sean Bean.
Most of the play takes place in the pub but there are two more scenes. In one there is a murder and in the second the bishop comes to town and delivers a sermon. For the latter scene the church window was placed on the stage and the curtains drawn to it. Light was shone through the window from behind. A pulpit was placed on the auditorium floor from which the bishop delivered his sermon. I found it amazing to hear the audience join in in the benediction and cross themselves. I don’t know if they forgot they weren’t in church of if it was just instinct to react appropriately.
I am sorry the photos are so appalling but they are the best that remain.
As a quick aside – in order to keep the costs of this stage set down, the arch from the Post Horn Gallop was used again as the frame of the stained glass window.
These bottom two photos are the only photos I have of pantomime sets. I painted them nearly every Christmas for about 10 years. Both of these are from Robinson Crusoe.
If you look carefully at the lower right hand side of the photos you will see some of my equipment making an appearance.