Written by murals  |  24. January 2001

Deciding what to put on your walls is one of life's greatest challenges.... wallpaper, faux finish paint effects, chair rail, wallpaper borders; the list of possibilities is overwhelming. Of course I fully endorse the use of wall art! (I use the term wall art rather than "murals" because it covers the wide variety of approaches to wall painting.) Choosing which of these approaches best suits yourneeds and taste is the first step in planning your project. Here are brief descriptions of the most common applications of this increasingly popular decorating option: MURALS Murals cover an entire wall (or walls) from end to end, ceiling to floor. BORDERS Like their wallpaper counterparts, painted borders run along the length of the wall(s). Unlike wallpaper borders, they do not have to follow strict repeat patterns and can be as simple or detailed as desired. Borders are most often used along the ceiling, but can start at the floor. "Floor up" borders are usually much larger than ceiling borders, sometimes going half way up the wall. SPOT PAINTINGS Spot paintings are a step down from a full scale mural, but can be equally effective. For instance a child's room can have a jungle theme with plenty of animals, trees, vines, painted "at random" around the room rather than contained in a scene that "makes sense". A giraffe peaking out from behind a window, a monkey painted around a door frame so it appears to be swinging from the molding are examples of how spot paintings can be incorporated into the architecture of a room. TROMPE L'OEIL Trompe l'oeil is the French term for fool the eye. It refers to a technique, not size; so paintings can range from full wall murals to small spots. Common themes are the use of painted columns, walls and windows which are painted and placed in such a way that the illusion of extreme realism or continuing space is achieved. Choosing between full murals and spot paintings is usually based on both artistic and practical considerations . On the practical size are the size and the layout of the room. Be especially careful to think about possible future needs! The furniture used in a nursery is far different from that in a young child or teen's room. Keeping this in mind helps avoid painting areas which will one day be covered up by the larger dressers, bed, shelevs, etc. needed as children grow. Artistic considerations include the subject of the painting, and most important - personal taste. In fact, personal taste really dictates every aspect of wall art, so when making decisions about your painting, it is important to keep a few things in mind. THEME For a child's room, it is best to keep your child's age and interests in mind. However, children are notorious for changing their interests, especially when it comes to favorite characters! I encourage parents to carefully consider designs which will not be out-grown too quickly. Sticking to general themes such as space, fairies, animals, the circus, meadows, etc... can insure that your painting that will be enjoyed for years. STYLE / COLOR Style refers to the artistic approach, or technique used. Consider the type of artwork you like in general; are you drawn to impressionistic art or bold, graphic works? Cartoonish and primitive, story bookish, or highly realistic? When it comes to color -do you prefer pastel colors or primaries? Take a look at the wallpaper, fabric and poster/framed art in your home to determine your style. I am constantly amazed and inspired by the variety of individual styles in the people I paint for; and thoroughly enjoy the process of discovering and expressing it with them! INSPIRATION! I would have to say that an equal number of people call me knowing exactly what they want on their walls and not having a clue! For those in search of idea, I offer the following sources for inspiration; greeting cards, wrapping paper, stickers, gift bags, wallpaper, story books, gardening, or any hobby book, etc.... ideas are every where! One of my favorite projects, (spot paintings of flowers in a bathroom), was based on a design on a finger-tip towel! Remember -It isn't necessary to be an "artist" to be creative. People who believe they have absolutely no artistic inclinations or abilities are pleasantly surprised to find that they can literally design a painting by simply considering the basic elements listed here. I am convinced that every one is an artist, they just might not know it yet! Please look for my next article which will cover the basic supplies and methods used turning ideas into paintings! Seek Beauty

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