From Ancient Artist to Modern-day Mural Painter

Mural painter and her work in the wall

A mural painter comes directly from a long lineage of artists starting with the Indigenous cave painters in Australia at least 30, 000 years ago, and the ancient artists at the caves of Lascaux in France around 17, 000 years ago. These artists who painted on natural rock walls and ceilings eventually evolved into celebrated figures of history like Michelangelo famous for his paintings on the ceiling and walls of the Sistine Chapel in the 15th Century.

A modern mural is a large painting that is created on interior or exterior walls and ceilings of buildings or other structures and touches upon elements of graffiti and subway art, and is comprised of mostly commissioned artworks that grace the external environments of all the major cities and metropolitan centres around the world.

What does it Take to be a Mural Painter?

A mural painter is a dedicated and passionate artist who has skill in drawing and painting; and is knowledgeable about the different styles and history of art. Often they are experienced in using many mediums and usually it is their portfolio of previous art designs that land them the job of painting a mural for the local community.

Mural artist while painting

Other qualities that a great mural painter might possess include a keen eye for detail, a love of working outdoors or indoors on a large canvas, and a real connection to the city they live in and the community around them; plus, a yearning to have their paintings be put on display in the largest forum possible for all to see.

These artists of the biggest possible canvas usually prepare and plan their work in smaller sketches or paintings, or even from photographs. Technology these days allows for the mural painter to project an image to a huge size on a wall, and from this, the painting is guaranteed to be precise and retain the original creativity and inspiration for the artwork.

Rarely does a mural painter begin a project unprepared? These artists like to brood and meditate on the painting they will do, they like to visit the site and view the wall or ceiling or structure from different angles and in different qualities of light, they like to research the surrounding community and chat to locals. After an incubation period of ideas and concepts, they will prepare the first paintings on a smaller, manageable canvas, then transfer these to a projectable image or carry the portable artworks to the project site.

How do I Get Started as a Mural Painter?

Although some of best-known artists who have painted masterpieces on walls and structures in New York, or Sydney, or Los Angeles are classically trained, a number of them are auto-didacts and have learnt by experience in other forms of art. A mural painter can be self-taught, or apprentice themselves to a respectable mural artist or a well-respected artist in other mediums to get started. They can enrol in a graphic design course or art school and follow a well-trod path, or they can even start by drawing in a sketchbook. Usually, the first chance they get, the in-borne mural painter will take the opportunity to paint a kitchen wall for a family friend, or decide to brighten up their garage with a design they have in mind. The Mural Artist will then take photos and begin a portfolio of mural paintings to one-day show a councilperson and get a commission to create that work of art on that freeway wall, or on that ceiling in that government building, or on that brick fence that separates the local basketball court from the local park.

Being a mural painter is more of a passionate calling than a traditional job. And in this modern world of concrete walls and high-ceilinged structures, where big is usually better, and communities gather around in groups with a love of their city, this type of artist is in high demand and will be for a very long time.

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