What Does a Mural Painter Do?

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  • Written By: Cassie L. Damewood
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 17 July 2014
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A mural painter designs and paints large works of art. She traditionally creates her works of art on surfaces at least the size of a typical wall or ceiling in a residential home. She may work on large commercial projects, city beautification projects or be hired to paint a mural for a private residence. The mural may be designed to be permanent or temporary. Temporary murals are often used for advertising, promotion or to craft a specific scene or theme for a holiday or special event.

Depending on the location of the mural, the type of paint she uses varies. Indoor murals can generally be produced with almost any paint the artist chooses. Outdoor murals are traditionally created with paints that are highly resistant to rain, snow, wind and dirt.

Indoor murals are often painted directly onto a wall or ceiling. If a portable mural is desired, the creation is painted onto a canvas and is traditionally framed. Outdoor murals are commonly painted on the exterior walls of commercial and industrial building as well as on the sides of large barns or storage facilities. Occasionally, fences are used as the canvas for a mural painter.

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A mural painter may have a major influence on the subject of her creation. This is commonly the case if the mural is part of an urban renovation project or if the artist is part of a mural artist collective exhibit. The subject matter may have a universal theme or reflect a specific cause or point of view.

If she is working toward a career as a mural painter, a person in this position ordinarily bases her artwork on the desires of her customers. She may be commissioned to paint a mural on the wall of a child’s bedroom or create a cityscape for a den or recreation room. Businesses with large spaces to decorate commonly hire a muralist to create art that reflects the nature of their goods or services. Restaurants and bars are traditionally partial to murals in their décor as well.

Mural painters face decidedly different challenges than traditional painters. Because the space they are dealing with is so large, it is normally necessary for the artist to plan the painting by sections. This is typically done on a sketch pad or planning pad that has tiny squares on it, much like graph paper. After the project is mapped out on paper and the dimensions of each section are confirmed, the sketching guidelines are transferred to the surface to be painted.

As the project progresses, the artist usually steps back at regular intervals to check her art for perspective. What may look appealing and balanced as she is painting may be distorted at the distance at which a spectator views it. Frequent checks during the process help the artist achieve the results she envisioned at the onset of painting the mural.

No special education is required for this job. The success of a mural painter normally depends on her artistic talent and her ability to effectively promote her business. The most common job background for mural painting is sign painting. Both jobs require good spatial conception and execution skills.

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