Commissioning a Mural – how does that work?

Back in December I had a phone call from Rusthall Lodge CareHome. They were in the process of redecorating their premises, and a bright spark on their team had suggested the concept of having a hand painted mural  in the foyer. Luckily I know a staff member there, and she suggested they meet me!  When I arrived, the builders were in, carpets were being laid and excitement was in the air.

The manager, Hilary, was keen on the idea of bringing the ‘outside inside’, and had been inspired by my many tree projects on my website. The desire was to create a welcoming and interesting feature in their large and very bare foyer. They had been working with local interior designers, Thomas Haycock , which provided me with a template as a starting point for a colour scheme and inspiration. The team were very keen on incorporating a blossom tree, which is of course, my favourite subject so I was delighted.

At this stage I went away and came up with some sketches and ideas, as well as a price estimate. Here are a couple of examples, as well as the Interior Designer’s moodboard.

A mood board with birds, portrait and peony
hand-drawn sketch of a bird in a tree

So finally the starting day arrives! March 28th, perfect blossom season, inspiration is all around me. When confronted with a large blank wall, I experience a range of emotions… “Oh, I can’t wait to get my hands on this”… to “Oh my goodness, please get this right”.

I sketch out the tree shape quite quickly to banish any initial nerves. These are some images of the early stages:

This job proved to be such a happy experience. As I was painting in a busy area of the Home, the Entrance Foyer, I had a constant stream of wonderful feedback and reactions.  The staff were intrigued watching how a hand painted mural is created over the course of six days it took,and were incredibly kind and supportive. The elderly residents were delighted, and I had lots of pep talks and appreciation (plus some requests for rabbits, swings, more birds, which I wasn’t able to incorporate). There is, of course, a regular flow of visitors coming to the Home, and they were all pleased that The Lodge was investing in something personal and artistic for their residents. Usually my work is pretty lonely, so I found it invigorating to be sharing my process with so many people.

This is the final result. On the last day of painting, some of the staff and the manager came out to admire and to thank me. Hilary Taylor said:

“You have made a lot of people very happy!”.

Quite frankly that is the best kind of endorsement I could ever receive. Rusthall Lodge is a very special place, and if it comes to it later in life, I’ll be booking myself in there.

a handpainted tree on a wall
a hand painted tree on a wall

Some close up images of the Blue Tits, and the Fairy Bluebirds (these are Asian birds and were specially requested!

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