Painting a Landscape in Acrylic (Outdoor Mural)



On Day 1, I worked in black and white, covering the garage in white gesso and sketching in my design with black paint. I started with a rough sketch and then refined it over the course of the day. I constantly walked up and down the driveway so that I could see the whole composition.


This is the original concept for the design which I made in watercolor on paper. 


Here it is photoshopped onto the garage door and extended into the distance with atmospheric perspective.


On Day 2, I painted these distant trees, defining their structure by painting in hollows using titanium white. 


I also refined the overall composition of the trees and their branches. Part of this refinement is erasing areas that I don't want, which I did by overpainting with white gesso. My goal for this day was to have a grayscale rendering of the entire composition so that tomorrow I could begin with color. Honestly, I would have been satisfied to leave it like this.  I think it looks awesome in black and white and I'm now inspired to recreate this idea.


On Day 3, I completed the tree composition by painting in these leaves on the middle tree, and then began blocking in the water with ultramarine blue.


I then extended this same blue in a lighter tint up into the sky all the while overlapping the trees that I've already painted in order to increase the sense of atmospheric perspective.  As I moved upward I introduced phthalo blue, a clearer, cleaner, greener blue. This gives the sense of the fog lifting as we move away from the ground. And moving into the top panel I mixed phthalo green with the blue and applied it with a lot of water and medium and then wiped it away, staining the white ground and creating a very distant transparent green.


Starting on Day 4, the background colors were in place but they were choppy and unintegrated, so I selectively added glazes and scumbles to smooth out the transitions from one color to another. A glaze is a transparent application of color, thinned with water or medium, and spread as thinly as possible. A scumble is glaze that is tinted with white. While a glaze modulates the hue of the underlying layer, a scumble also modulates the tone, subduing and graying the color. This was especially useful at the horizon line where the sea now subtly disappears into the sky, rather than having a harsh line of separation.


I also added stars on Day 4. I did this with the wooden end of a paintbrush dipping it into white gesso and dotting in the Stars wherever I wanted them.



On Day 5 I added an acrylic sealer on top. I used Krylon matte finish acrylic sealer (not a sponsor). This provides a waterproof seal that will protect the mural from rain and dirt.

Krylon 1311


Materials I used: 

Matte Acrylic Paint (also called acrylic gouache): Titanium white (gesso), ivory black, ultramarine blue, Phthalo blue, phthalo green

Paint Brushes: I used cheap chip brushes ranging from one inch to 4 inches, as well as smaller medium soft nylon brushes.

A palette: I use a Masterson Sta-Wet palette when using acrylics

A spray bottle to keep my paints hydrated in the hot sun, and to facilitate thin glazing of the background colors. 

Plastic sheeting for a drop cloth

Newspaper and masking tape to mask off and protect the door frame of the garage

Krylon acrylic sealer


If you'd prefer to see my process in video form, I filmed the entire painting process and edited it into this short youtube video


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