Tips and Tricks for Painting a Large-Scale Mural
Street art is growing increasingly popular in cities and towns across Connecticut, which means murals are on more people’s minds. But what does it even take to paint a mural?
To get the inside scoop about mural creation we spoke to Ben Keller, a 29-year-old artist based in Northeastern CT. Ben has been painting large-scale murals since 2012, having first been introduced to street art via graffiti. He knows his stuff about the technical aspects of painting a mural. He also has lots to say about the mindset of a muralist and how to stay patient and passionate while crafting a large-scale piece.
Here are some of Ben’s tips and tricks for painting a mural!
1.) Overcome your fear of scale
No joke, painting a mural can be intimidating, especially if it’s on a large scale! Ben’s background in graffiti helped him get familiarized with painting big projects, but he recognizes that not everyone shares this advantage. If you have any “fear of scale,” remember that there are tried-and-true ways to successfully transfer an image or design onto a large wall, like the grid method and using an art projector.
2.) Ask for help
There’s plenty of knowledge and techniques for mural painting that don’t really get covered in art classes. Like, what type of paint is best for a particular wall surface? And where can you access ladders and scaffolding? Ben says that when he first got started painting murals he often sought advice from his muralist predecessors when he had questions like this. So stay humble. Ask for help from people who have lots of experience painting murals and soak up all of their wisdom. Also, don’t be afraid to work with assistants in order to get the job done!
3.) Understand the wall you’re painting
As Ben puts it, “Walls have a story to tell - and the more character the better!” Before doing any priming and prepping, take some time to get to know the wall you’ll be painting. Think about how your artwork could strategically compliment the wall’s particular character. For example, if the wall is made of brick, you can leave some areas peeking through the paint to achieve texture. Or, if there’s a big crack in the concrete, maybe that becomes part of your design!
4.) Maintain your enthusiasm
Obviously, it can take a long time to complete a large-scale mural from start to finish, so find ways to maintain your passion and stamina. For Ben, this means taking enjoyment in being outside while he paints outdoor murals. He’s also motivated by his interactions with community members who share their reaction to his murals. Lastly, it always helps to have some of your favorite music playing while you work. Most recently Ben has been enjoying Blink 182’s latest album.
Last month, Ben collaborated with CT Murals to create a tribute mural of Martin Luther King Jr., entitled ‘Birthing of a Legacy.’ The mural was commissioned by Manchester’s Department of Leisure, Family and Recreation and can be found on the exterior wall of the Mahoney Recreation Center off Cedar Street in Manchester.
Check out more of Ben’s work at www.benkellerart.com (he’s open for commissions!) or on IG @benkellerct.
Psyched about murals? Us too! That’s why we’re hosting a series of mural workshops for artists seeking to jumpstart a career in painting commissioned murals!
Sign up here to receive updates about when registration opens later this year: https://www.ctmurals.com/mural-workshop-signup.
Joy Meikle is the new Content Creator at CT Murals. She writes from her identities as a white cisgendered woman; puppeteer and songwriter; reader and birdwatcher. She is passionate about social-emotional wellness, racial justice, and Tarot. Find her on IG at @alegria_moon and follow @ctmurals while you're at it!