February 10, 2013
Recently, I had the opportunity to paint one of the most challenging murals of my career. It is a scene from Venice which originated as a photograph that the homeowners had taken on their recent journey abroad to Italy. The photograph was taken overlooking a small “street” (waterway) in Venice, from the vantage-point of one the hundreds of footbridges in this beautiful city. Luckily, there is a beautiful niche in this beautiful home’s second-level foyer. It was the perfect spot for this mural!
When I say that this was a challenge for me, I am really not kidding. It pushed me both artistically and physically. The challenge lies in it’s intricacy and sheer volume of detail. Also, I wanted to be as accurate as possible, but still offer my artistic interpretation of the scene. I wanted it to be beautiful, of course! Luckily, I was given lots of artistic freedom and all the time I needed to get the project done to the level of skill and detail I desired. That doesn’t always happen with projects!
I knew from the beginning that I had to approach this mural completely differently than I had with past projects. For instance, for a landscape mural (which I do often), I build the mural from background to foreground. I begin with the sky, paint the land, and build details from there. In a collage-style mural, I begin in the center and, using the grid method, I draw and paint out to each corner, referencing the preliminary painting that I’ve completed ahead of time. This mural was different in that I drew all the structures (the buildings on either side of the street), before I painted any planes, using a one-point perspective method. I created a vanishing point, and then – using a pushpin and a string – I created all my horizontal lines. I created the vertical lines with a level.
Since I wanted to be able to fit as much of the photograph into the niche as possible (and the niche existed first!) I “pushed” the perspective in my design. In other words, I sort of squeezed the image together to fit into the space. I also centered the vanishing point in order to balance the painting. This is called creative license!!
There are a few notable differences between the photograph and the painting. You might notice additions to the painting such as motor boats moored on the left, a gondola on the right, and cafe umbrellas. These items were desired by the homeowner, and together we were able to fit them into the design. I referenced other photos they had taken on their trip to Venice, and combined them with this photo to create the final mural design.
If you would like to see larger images of this completed project, and other murals I’ve completed please visit my Flikr page here, or my web site: www.amycolburn.com. I am so grateful for your feedback and comments!!
This is one of the most satisfying projects because of the fact that I pushed myself to limits I didn’t know I could achieve. I feel like I did the photo justice, and the homeowner is so pleased to have memorialized their “trip of a lifetime”. Lastly, I feel very blessed that they had such faith in me to accomplish this!! I am ready for the next one!!