How to Paint a Ceiling Mural Without Breaking Your Neck

Painting a ceiling, especially a ceiling mural can be a pain in the neck. Since I just completed six months of fairly intensive chiropractic visits to take the kinks out of my neck, I wasn’t anxious to undo all that good work. So, when I was contacted to paint a ‘pretty, cloudy sky’ on a ceiling I suggested that I paint it on canvas and install it like wallpaper.
I assured the designer and homeowner that they would receive a superior product for no additional money and very soon I was ordering 63inch wide, eighteen foot long rolls of canvas. My client, in a flurry of indecision bought six or seven sample cans of various shades of blue paint trying to find the perfect shade for her dining room walls. These little cans became the base shades for the sky.

A blend of bues for a base

My plan was to paint the mural in two pieces that would be fit together on the ceiling. I tacked up fourteen feet of canvas in my studio and went to work. I was careful to keep track of my shade variations along the seam line to avoid needing too much touch up after it was installed.  
After completing the second canvas we were ready for the big moment. I met the team of paper hangers at the clients home and with just a little direction about how I wanted the canvases to  come together they took over the measuring and planning from there.
One canvas up and starting on the second
 The paper hangers were wonderful and I wouldn’t trade jobs with them for all the tea in China. Unfortunately in spite of all the care they took, due to the  thickness of the canvas the seam was very visible. Also the canvas torqued a bit causing it to shift towards the center line. Fortunately there was still just enough canvas on the outer edges to keep us from having a gap.  But it threw all of my careful color matching off. So much for my brilliant planning. I would have to touch up thirteen feet down the center line. Oh well, not the end of the world, and it would probably only take a couple of hours. The real problem was that pesky seam.

UGH! Unsightly seam!

 We decided to mix up some joint compound with some blue paint and carefully cover the seam. To keep from creating more edges we took a wet sponge to the outer edges of the ‘mud’ smoothing it out. I used a hair dryer  to speed the drying time of the joint compound.
Success!  The joint compound completely leveled out the seam and created a beautiful seamless mural . We paused to do a little dance of joy before I tackled the color matching.

Hooray! Problem solved.

  While I did have to spend some time with my neck craned up, it can’t compare to the pain involved in painting an entire ceiling. I’m happy, the paper hanger is happy and the client is thrilled. A good day. Have you ever run into a similar problem with an unsightly seam? How did you solve it?

Just one more 'cause I'm so happy.



Filed under art, Uncategorized

6 responses to “How to Paint a Ceiling Mural Without Breaking Your Neck

  1. If I may ask, what did you use to adhere the canvas to the ceiling?

    • I hired a wallpaper hanger who prepped the wall a few days before. Then he applied it with wallpaper paste. I’m sorry I can’t get anymore specific than that. I really left it up to his expertise.

  2. Jan

    Did you use primed canvas or did you prime it yourself?

    • Jan, I used a primed canvas. I couldn’t find a light weight roll in the size I needed so I ended up using 12 pound. It didn’t make my paper hanger very happy. The heavier canvas made the seams difficult to conceal.

  3. I came upon your blog by surprise–what a great story! I have a potential job similar to yours in which I need to paint the mural on canvas and let a wallpaper installer do the installation.
    My dilemma is this: you wrote that 12# canvas is rather heavy and that you used a primed canvas. I’m debating if I should look for a lighterweight primed canvas and cut it into sections instead of using one 10′ x 30′ long piece.
    I’m looking forward to your thoughts.
    Thank you!

    • Marci,
      If you can find a lighter weight primed canvas on a roll that is the size you need,it would probably be appreciated by your paper hanger. The more pieces you have, the more seams will need to be matched which requires extra effort by the installer. The 12 pound weight canvas wasn’t a problem when there were no seams to deal with.
      Hope this helps. Good luck with your project!

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