The evolution of a mural…

I was given a commission from a local up-scale pizza restaurant, Plantation House Pizza, and they wanted these two panels to reside on either side of a huge doorway leading into the kitchen which was located right behind the front counter of the restaurant.  Each are apx 3.5 feet wide by 5.5 feet tall.

The restaurant’s theme was tropical meets West Indies and it had dark wood everywhere and lots of big green plants.  This fit right in… so check out my process to get the final work.

First I did the underpainting of the different land masses and airbrushed the sky at the horizon level.

First I did the underpainting of the different land masses and airbrushed the sky at the horizon level.

Next I worked on the sand beach and the far land mass.

Next I worked on the sand beach and the far land mass.

Water and beach work...

Water and beach work…

Underpainting on the edges of the bay, dark green, then messing about with foliage texture.

Continuing with underpainting on the edges of the bay, dark green, then messing about with foliage texture.

I used reference pictures – tons of them – to figure out the correct color palette for this scene.  under-painting is tricky to learn.  Sometimes you are right and sometimes, well, you have to start over.  It’s all a learning process.

Adding foliage to father land mass and blocked in the hut and the palm tree.

Adding foliage to father land mass and blocked in the hut and the palm tree.

More foliage on far area.

More foliage on far area.

Adding the palm fronds and the trunk texture.

Adding the palm fronds and the trunk texture.

Getting more detail on the land and adding details to the water and the horizon...

Getting more detail on the land and adding details to the water and the horizon…

Next I painted the details on the hut and added the green leaves on the palm.

Getting to work on the shadows for the foliage in the foreground.

Getting to work on the shadows for the foliage in the foreground.

More detail on the different types of greenery outside the window.

More detail on the different types of greenery outside the window.

Me, looking like a dork in painting mode so beauty is completely irrelevant...

Me, looking like a dork in painting mode so beauty is completely irrelevant…

I taped off the wood work that makes up the windows and acts as a frame for the view.

I kept switching the panels around to see if they would look good depending on the placement... added the dark inner bit to help create the forced perspective needed to fool the eye.

I kept switching the panels around to see if they would look good depending on the placement… added the dark inner bit to help create the forced perspective needed to fool the eye.
Time to add a little parrot to sit on the window sill.  Pictures help me see what a parrot actually looks like.  That is NOT cheating - that is RESEARCH!

Time to add a little parrot to sit on the window sill. Pictures help me see what a parrot actually looks like. That is NOT cheating – that is RESEARCH!

Detail of parrot

Detail of parrot

Closeup of the shadow outline of the little gecko I am going to do.

Closeup of the shadow outline of the little gecko I am going to do.

Next step is to add the darkest shadows on his little body... then I will paint his body in.

Next step is to add the darkest shadows on his little body… then I will paint his body in.

There he is!

There he is!

This is the final work as it sat in my studio…I seem to have misplaced my CD with the mural in place at the restaurant, but at least you can see how a mural comes about.

Right sided, finished panel of Plantation House Mural, M. Gilbertsen 2008

Right sided, finished panel of Plantation House Mural, M. Gilbertsen 2008

Left sided panel, finished and ready to get paid for!

Left sided panel, finished and ready to get paid for!

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