Murals are an interesting phenomenon of the art world. They go back to the earliest of human artistic endeavors. What is a cave painting but a mural in its truest form?
Over the years they have managed to persist as a common and popular part of the way we choose to express ourselves and decorate our spaces.
I imagine it has a lot to do with availability, especially in modern times. All that empty wall space, inside and out of the buildings we populate these days is available. Secondly, there’s something to be said for the practicality of the mode for art display, there’s no extra bits to hang or install, no frames or wires to break or maintain.
In my opinion though, one of the most significant reasons we have held onto murals over so many years is the ability to share a story, a feeling, a passion, with a much wider audience than an isolated canvas could reach.
If art is a conversation with the world, a mural is an open mic of the art world.
In the course of my career I have had the opportunity to create murals, collaborate on murals, and create temporary street art in the form of chalk paintings. Each project ends up being entirely unique as a result of the constraints of the particular location and surface the mural is created on.
My work is usually very detailed and layered. In the case of a mural there are layers already existing I have to work with. Brick doesn’t easily lend itself to the illusion of water. You have to utilize the natural light in only one position, there’s no moving the painting to the most flattering lighting. When I paint I don’t plan my paintings out carefully ahead of time, instead letting them flow. Trying to freehand a mural with the motion and detail of the water I love painting so much is challenging on these surfaces. There are often unique time constraints to work around.
All of these things come together to equal a monumental labor of love rendered to the people a mural is created for. The next time you see street art, stop and appreciate the love some artist has for their city. Let them show you the world through their eyes for a minute.