Muralist explains the process of commissioning a hand-painted mural
The first thing to consider is whether the architecture of the room is suitable for the type of work the client has in mind. From there, we talk about the style and period of design. It is often better to stay true to the style of the house, although occasionally a departure can work beautifully.
Certain rooms don't lend themselves to murals - in my experience dining rooms, hallways and bathrooms are the best places to put them. In sitting rooms, you tend to have too much furniture, and people like bedrooms to be restful. But to have a mural in a dining room provides a talking point. They can create a real buzz. It is better to put them in communal areas where they can be enjoyed.
A mural differs to hanging art in that it creates a complete environment; in some cases, you could even say an extension of experience. Properly executed trompe l'oeil can work on quite a subliminal level. The height of the eye line is crucial. In a dining room, I will often lower the point of perspective because most people will be looking at it seated. In this way, you can make a small room feel inordinately bigger. I normally paint the light as it would fall in daylight, though sometimes painting it falling in the wrong direction can create an interesting tension.
I use references, but I never copy. If I have a client that is Russian, for example, that will amend the way that I paint certain periods. I always think about how that style would be historically exaggerated and interpreted according to that culture.'
Murals should be commissioned outside of time and fashion. It is about enhancing a room's architecture. For a more subtle change, consider rusticated walls or trompe l'oeil panelling.
Above: Alan produces scale drawings and maquettes of architectural details which are then reproduced on walls.
Taken from the June 2014 issue of House & Garden
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