I painted this calligraphy mural in the dining area of my house because I remember having most conversations at this table. My sons and I have covered every topic from casual jokes to family trauma, examined our implicit biases, addressed consent culture and privately written out painful things to burn in the fire in our backyard. This area has also been a space to savor bonds with close friends. “Gather”, as in “coming together as a community”. Let’s gather with the intention of listening to understand and the courage to offer from the depth of our hearts.
This piece started when I’d finally painted the walls in my living and dining rooms. They hadn’t been painted in at least 20 years. The walls were a flat white with no gloss (read: impossible to clean). 2 young sons and 2 dogs all grown up later, it was high time to paint. I chose a color called Sunset Nude. I’m sharing this so I can tell you the color feels almost as if I had buttered all the walls. Satisfying.
Around the same time, I was learning Foundational Hand from the lively Carrie Imai. I found myself wanting to practice larger letters and personalize my own space with calligraphy. The key here for me was to paint something I wouldn’t pick apart every time I looked at it. I did a ton of sketches on graph paper:
I played with different compositions until I had an arrangement I liked. The letters needed a few touch-ups and I played with the bowl of the g until I liked it. Then I traced just the outline using tracing paper.
Enlarging the Design
I had 2 options for enlarging the design: Use the grid method or do it digitally. This time, I scanned it into my computer. I enlarged it to the size I wanted, printed it out, and I taped the pages together.
I painted a background for the text using leftover house paint. The gold strokes I added with a mostly dry brush catch light and create depth. After this was dry, I arranged the text for the calligraphy mural over it. The extra vertical lines you see in the above design served two purposes. One was to guide me to where to place the transfer. The other purpose was to use a level with to ensure the letters’ vertical lines were completely . . vertical.
Transferring the Calligraphy
There are a few different ways to transfer a design to a wall for painting. This time, I used carbon paper. Next time, I’ll try something else. One reason I chose carbon paper was so I wouldn’t burn out and save painting the letters for “later” . . .
I’m pretty sure I painted the g on the first day and finished the rest the second day. I used navy blue acrylic paint to offset the warmth of the table and the color of the walls. It turns out this mural is something I love to look at any time I see it. I painted this just before I took a Calligraphy Walls class with Loredana Zega. Just after the class, I got the chance to paint a Layered Calligraphy Mural for a client.