From a blank wall to a Noah’s Ark mural

Over the last few years, I’ve done a number of murals. Most of have been for my churches, and the first was for the West York Missionary Church.
I was asked to paint a mural in the church’s children’s room. Apparently, they just expected me to paint a few feet of the wall. Instead, I painted two whole walls. In total, I’d bet the final mural was almost 30 feet long.
To start out, I primed the walls and applied some color for the sky and the the ground. After that there was a long process of filling it in. For this mural, the theme was “Noah’s Ark,” so I had lots of animals to paint. Instead of painting them marching along, two by two, I wanted them to actually do things. So I had tigers jumping, raccoons wrestling, foxes playing, monkeys harassing turtles and other animal-like behaviors.
(And yes, that’s me there, painting away. Down below is my daughter in front of Noah.)
Once the sky and ground was set in place, I went through the whole mural and sketched in the animals based on my preliminary drawings. From there, I went through the mural and applied as much of one color as I could, so on one day, I would add all browns. Another day was all reds and so on. Once all the basic animal shapes were painted, I went in and added details and highlights. Finally, I went over each animal a last time giving it a black outline.
Probably the most difficult part of the painting was adding a rainbow. My first attempt made the colors far too bold, so I washed them off and watered down the paint. That worked, and I applied them in an arc that stretched between two walls. The corner actually helped me because I knew I wouldn’t get a perfect arc, and it helped hide my flubs.
Once the rainbow, animals, Noah and the arc were all finished, I added a few extra bushes, trees and landscaping and then finally added a transparent coating to seal the acrylic paint. In the end, I had well over a two dozen animals on the painting — from bats to penguins. It’s still quite proud of the mural.
Unfortunately, I can’t seem to dig up all the final pictures of each panel. When I find them, you can bet I’ll post them.


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