A mural can be one of the most fascinating ways to enhance a wall

by Patricia Cove
Posted 4/21/22

Discovered in the Chauvet Cave in France, the mural was first seen around 30,000 BC.  It has remained popular as a form of both public and private art ever since.

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A mural can be one of the most fascinating ways to enhance a wall


All buildings, whether modern or traditional, residential or commercial, tend to have their walls accessorized with some form of art.  Framed paintings or prints, mounted sculptures, or applied moldings in particular patterns all serve as methods to enhance a blank wall.  One decorative art form that has graced walls for centuries is the mural. 

Discovered in the Chauvet Cave in France, the mural was first seen around 30,000 BC.  It has remained popular as a form of both public and private art ever since. Murals were intended to beautify public or private spaces, but they have also been used for political or social commentary, or used to memorialize or record historical events.  But for our purposes, we will concentrate on how murals have become a popular decorative technique used to enhance our living and working environments.

Depending on the wall surface, which often is made up of varying textures and materials, mural artists have developed several methods in order to adapt to their “canvases.”  One of the oldest methods, called fresco painting, incorporates paint being applied directly to wet plaster. Tempura oil paint and acrylic paint can also be used on drywall, and a more complex technique called marouflage, involves the painting of a scene directly to a canvas, which is then affixed to the wall using  plaster or cement.  The material and condition of the wall surface will dictate which method is best.  

The chosen technique for the mural often follows the decision of the subject matter, which can influence the style and coloration of the mural.  The depictions and subject matter of any mural are as varied as your imagination.  Landscapes and scenics are two of the most popular subjects, especially on interior walls, and the coloration can be used to complement or contrast a room’s color scheme. Familiar landscapes not only allow an artist to paint expansive views of a countryside, but also pay homage to a beloved part of the community.

We were honored to be part of the team that designed the interior lobby of “One West” one of our newest  condominium complexes in Chestnut Hill.  The design of a custom mural that would grace the concave, circular walls of the interior lobby was an important feature being considered by the owner, who chose one depicting the landscape of the Wissahickon, an area known and enjoyed by many.  It was decided to use a monochromatic color scale called “Verdaille.”  This technique, employing a gray-green color scheme,  was selected specifically to suggest the reflection of light and shadows within the painting.  Acrylic paints were used, which not only provide durability, but also created a soft watercolor effect.

The finished creation is a testament to the artist’s unique ability to bring a familiar landscape to life within a unique and inviting space, and a credit to the owner’s vision incorporating a piece of our community within a unique living environment.

Cityscapes, beach scenes, and gardens are other popular examples of interior mural themes.  One of the most beautiful mural concepts, providing an option to actually see the mural before it is completed, is to have the scene painted on silk panels.  Companies like Gracie and de Gournay make stunning hand painted silk panels in themes that cover everything from chinoiserie florals, stunning in a living or dining room, to eclectic subjects like birds and bunnies perfect for an infant’s nursery. A “strike off” is created, allowing you to choose the layout and coloration of the pattern. Each panel is then custom cut and designed to fit your room exactly.  The result is a stunning decorative feature that becomes a major part of a room’s ambience.

If you are budget- or materials-conscious, Phillip Jeffries wallpaper company can make panels that incorporate more sleek mural themes, such as clouds, oceans, and mountains, in a durable and cleanable vinyl material, perfect for a more modern interior, or commercial application.

There are so many ways to make blank walls interesting. Whether you choose a custom mural landscape, hand-painted floral panels, or sleek vinyl mountains and clouds, your walls should reflect scenery that you love, have a special meaning to you, and become an inherent part of your home.Patricia Cove is Principal of Architectural Interiors and Design in Chestnut Hill,  and can be reached through her website: www.patriciacove.com.