02 June 2016

How To Paint A Mountain Mural

Over the weekend I painted a mountain mural on my bedroom wall. I shared it on Facebook, and was surprised and delighted by the responses. My best friend gave me the ultimate compliment when she said, "You PAINTED that? I thought you bought it at IKEA!" She thought my "artwork" could be sold at IKEA. My life is complete!

The finished product! Next up - IKEA!

I originally got this idea when a girl posted her own mountain mural in the Washington Hikers & Climbers group on Facebook. I saved the photo for a long time before it dawned on me that I can do this myself! 

When I set out to paint a mountain mural in my new house, I couldn't find the same picture again, but did find a few resources online (namely this post and this photo). None of the resources were definitive or seemingly possible for a mortal, so I just relied on luck and assumed I'd figure it out. I feel like it turned out pretty okay.

10 Steps to Paint Your Own Mountain Mural (more photos below): 

  1. Grow up doing paint by numbers as a child because your parents think you are a little “high strung” and need something to 'focus' your attention. Use this time to master the paint stroke and secretly scheme about how someday you will be an adult and own your own home and then you can DO WHATEVER YOU WANT. Buy a house. Rue the day you thought home ownership was the answer to all of life’s questions. 
  2. Locate an empty wall (you should probably own this wall, because you can’t take wall murals with you). The wall should be of reasonable size. Paint it white. 
  3. Use a pencil and measuring tape to figure out where you furniture will be located in front of your masterpiece. Draw that location on the wall in pencil. It will help you decide where to put your mountains/layers. 
  4. Convince your friend Lisa – who is good at colors – to go with you to the paint store. Spend an hour putting different colors in cascading order until you have the right mix for your masterpiece. I recommend 7-9 colors. 
    Lisa Picking colors
  5.  Bring the paint home and open wine. Try not to drink too much because you have to paint now and painting is hard. 
  6. Use the pencil to draw the layers on your wall. Go very light with the top layers (#1-2) as the paint may not cover the lines. Take your time with this step; you want to get it right. But don’t be TOO particular. You just want a general design for where the layers will go – don’t get too lost in the detail work. 
  7. Paint the top layer (#1). Use a big brush to give yourself a general outline and to fill in the area. You will come back later and use a small hand-brush to add in the details at the top of each layer. 
  8. Paint the bottom – or darkest – layer (in my case #9) next. This will need two coats, so might as well get started, plus it will give #1 time to dry. After painting the top layer, I skipped a layer to paint the next one down (#3). This allowed #1 to dry. Then I could paint #2 and so forth. 
  9. With the boarder mostly set between #1 and #2, I grabbed paint #2 to add the details between layers. I did this before painting additional layers to get the feel for the process. You’ll likely need to go over the detailed borders twice. Meaning you add in the detail using paint #2 over the already dried paint of paint #1 first, but it won't quite be dark enough so after it dries you'll do it again.
  10. Continue down as you see fit. BOOM! You’re done! 

General Tips:

  • I’m going to assume you don’t know anything about paint, so here’s a quick lesson: paint comes in different ‘sheens’. In general, the higher the sheen the more shiny it is, and the more durable it will be. Flat paint has no shine, followed by eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, and high-gloss. I got an eggshell, but wish I had gone with a flat paint, even on a textured wall. Get flat paint.  
    This is not flat paint. Do not make that mistake.
  • You’ll need a few paintbrushes – spend money on good brushes. A big one for edging and general application, a medium one for touch up work, and a very small brush for the detail work. I started drawing lines that were very parallel and sweeping – it’s natural to make a perfect mound with a paintbrush. This is fine to start, but once you fill in the colors will look like Dr. Seuss took a mountain-shaped poo on your wall. Take a small brush and create smaller bumps and mounds and sharp edges. Imperfections are good. They make it look real. 
  • Set aside a few days to get this done. I already had the room taped/prepped because I had been painting. This step takes more time than you think it will, so plan ahead. Overall this took about 16 hours
  • Remember this is an investment in your new home. The paint – plus painters tape, plastic, and brushes – will run you about $200. This ain’t your kids paint-by-number. 


How To Paint a Mountain Mural in Photos:

Steps 2-3: First paint on the wall. You can see the light pencil outline.

Steps 6-7: Top layer done, putting bottom layer while it dries. You can see I was trying too hard with layer #7 initially.

Lisa painting layer 2.

Painting #5 while #2 dries.

Wine Break!

It's good to have a friend who likes to fill in where the paint wasn't thick enough the first round.

Filling in more "holes". This shows you the general sweeping lines of the first layers (with the grey on the pink at top left). Before adding the details it really did look like Dr. Seuss!

My paint colors.

Getting closer! One more layer to go, with the top four layers of detail complete.

A close up look at the detail work. Avoid symmetry, as it doesn't occur naturally, and try not to overthink it.

I like the left side better. Here's one last look.


If you paint your own mountain mural, please email me! I'd love to see your work, and I hope this inspires other adventurers to bring the outdoors in!


airless paint spray gun said...

I like your blog a lot. Its informative and full of information. Thank you for sharing.

Suzanne Rose said...

Great post
I'll be starting this weekend! Thanks

Kristina said...

Awesome @Suzanne Rose! Let me know how it turns out!

Spray Gun said...

I like your blog a lot. Its informative and full of information. Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

How do you know how much Paint you need? I know how much Paint is needed to Paint a wall in 1 Colorado but of you use so many Colors it's difficult to know how much to buy of eacht color! I don't want to end up having not enough of one color. But top much leftovers is waiste....

Kristina said...

@Anonymous - I ended up with extra paint, and I don't think there's any way around it. I suggest buying the smallest sizes, then you can always get more if you need it. The small pints that I bought are pictured and I'm not sure if you can go any smaller than that.