Prepping the wall (Photo: Finn Pedersen)
Part three (!) and final post on my mandala mural process. As with many projects, setbacks can occur and often challenge my ability to flow and make changes when necessary. This is a good thing! I always feel that with each project, I learn something new in the process and in turn allows things to go smoother for me and my client.
Part Two had me completing the design work and ready to begin on the wall. The first step of the transfer process is to mark out the wall with the correct size and "pie" divisions.
Two slight setbacks occurred with this commission that I had to work around. When I went to the house with the intention to begin transferring the design, I realized that the wall was in pretty rough shape. Ideally, it should be as smooth as possible for the paint application and also to facilitate small details with accuracy. It's hard to create a straight line that is interrupted with a pitted surface!
This realization, you may have guessed put me behind a couple of days. In other commissions, I have hired someone to create a paint-ready surface with "resanador" as it is called here in Mexico. In the interest of time, I decided to do it myself. After marking out the dimensions of the mandala, here I am in the above pic applying a coat of resanador. This requires a lot of smoothing and then sanding. It's a dusty job. Next time I will leave this part to workers who can do it best and more efficiently than me.
My client happened to be putting in a swimming pool and general overhaul of her backyard during my time there. This required some rescheduling and working around some of the needs of the workers. In the end, it all came together beautifully to have the mural coincide with the pool, landscaping and general beautifying of the area.
The weather during the painting phase was pleasant enough being fairly warm for working outside. One challenge with this site was that I could only work until about 1:00 in the afternoon as by then the sun was directly on my work and blinding! Having only half the day to work created a longer time frame for the completion. There was a fair amount of dust to contend with during the pool construction as well.
Transferring the drawing can be tedious and took a couple of days. I previously created one "pie" of the design on heavy velum which is a great paper for this purpose. I then use carbon and a stylus to transfer and repeat the pie all the way around.
As with any painting, the first step is to simply get some paint on the wall, also known as "underpainting"-flat color to deliniate the shapes and adjust the value. This takes quite a few days, but gives me an overall view of how the design is working. I generally will create and adjust the colors and values in one pie. I can then simply repeat the same all the way around. I have always maintained that my mandala images, even though repetitive, are not identical. Each one hopefully retains its own integrity. There is also little that can't be changed or adjusted slightly as the process moves along.
My client, for instance decided that the purple color around the edges wasn't working for her so I adjusted to a deeper turquoise that suited her better.
Working on a ladder for hours can be challenging and tiring. Mindful and careful stepping is a must as there is quite a lot of up and down!
After layers of underpainting, the details begin to emerge and take shape.
There is an attention to the layering as in the little papel picado "snowflake" shapes. These were painted in towards the end after the background was worked.
stencils for the two sizes which proved to streamline that detail as there were a lot of them.
After several coats of varnish are applied, it is finished.
One of the lovely elements of this mural is the placement through the window of the house which was part of the reason for this location. It's a great place to view the design from a distance.
My client, April wanted to present the mural in festive form and graciously threw a beautiful party with great food and drink and I raffled off a Giclee limited edition print. A fantastic ending for another beautiful project.
If this process has inspired you to want a mural for your home, please let me know how I can accommodate you! firstname.lastname@example.org