Web Design, Murals, Fine Art, Faux Finishing

Grotesque Ornamental Mural Painting

Ornamental mural painting over faux wood panel, Gray Oaks staircase mural project artist Arthur Morehead
Distressed ornamental mural painting (grotesque)

Grotesque Ornamental Mural Painting

in Gray Oaks Country Club, a Naples Fl. mural project,

is a third post to a series of Distressed Faux Wood Panels.Twelve wall art panels on a staircase are painted on canvas and then installed as I complete each set.

The Distressed Faux Wood Panel Mural is coming along nicely and I am at a point to give you an update. I have added quite a bit to the faux wood panels since you last saw them and have added grotesque ornamental mural painting using stencils that I purchased from Nicola and Leslie of Vigini Paint and Design of San Antonio Texas.  Some are most likely familiar with these stencils that I am using to save on design time, besides they’re beautiful stencils anyway.

Although I have only added subtle points of trompe loeil to the panels at this writing, they are surely starting to take on the realism that I want to accomplish with this particular mural design.  I am also a huge fan of Grotesque ornamental painting amongst many other art forms that I study on a regular basis.

On Wikipedia there is a wonderful write up on the history of the fine art of grotesque ornamental painting and how it became rediscovered and used in Rome at the end of the 15th century.The articles are quite impressive and well written by the contributors who did the research on the art form which dates back as far as 54 A.D. You can get more details by going to the link that I have created below.


Grotesque Ornamental Painting History

The Vigini Stencils I have used here will be used throughout the twelve panels I am painting over the

Distressed Wood Faux Panels

that I wrote about in my previous post.

Ornamental mural painting over faux wood panel, Gray Oaks staircase mural project artist Arthur Morehead
Distressed ornamental mural painting (grotesque)

As I said from the beginning, this Gray Oaks Country Club mural project is a series of posts as to try and keep some kind of organization so as not to confuse you with how many steps there are to this staircase mural project. The first post was actually about the background where I used a medium by Faux Effects International that is commonly known in the decorative arts and interior designer market as Luster Stone (Silver Product), which I go over in the first post titled,

Luster Stone Faux Fresco.

Now that that’s out of the way I can continue with the good stuff on ornamental painting, after all you should give credit where credit is due. I do try to keep consistent with my posts but it is tough when you are only one person. I have several stencils I am using throughout this  mural project and if there are any in particular that you are interested in just drop me a comment or an email and I’ll give you the information on them. The paint I am using is Faux Creme Colors manufactured by Faux Effects Int. which I have been using for approximately15 years and absolutely love the line. However I do use other mediums as well such as Golden Proceeds, Heavy Body Acrylics, and Fluid Acrylics. There’s another line I just started using for large murals and scenic painting made by Rosco that is really amazing also. The point here is to let you know that you should explore other mediums if you are as versatile in the arts such as I am, what can I say, I cant get enough toys to play with and have always been that way.

On this mural project I wanted a painterly quality to the appearance so I used the stencils for “blocking in” the designs with a common color to create harmony within all the panels. I also used an open palette in the mixing process. The colors I used was Faux Creme Colors Earth Brown and a touch of Italian Sienna ( Faux Effects Int.) for the “blocking in”.

Stencil Design by Vigini Paint and Design
“Blocking In” The stencil

The crossover in artist colors would be Raw Umber and Raw Sienna or Burnt Umber. The stencils have three overlays so its important to watch your color values (light and darkness) so you don’t lose the details of the designs.

Or you could just mix up different shades of green, red, and blue. Personally I don’t like the time it takes to do this and if you are consistent with your knowledge of color theory you shouldn’t have to. This is a distressed mural project and it is suppose to look aged and worn so perfect color matching is not critical at this point, in fact it adds to the effect because colors fade with age and weather.

However paying close attention to your values is most important to give these panels the depth to achieve the realistic appearance. Being that the ground is a very light value I will have to work dark to light. Generally I like working from a mid tone so I can work both ways if I choose, (light to dark or dark to light). You will see why I chose “white” as the dominate color of the weathered wood when we install the first five panels.

As I was saying because of the distressing and the contrasting values of light and dark’s of the faux wood panels the grotesque ornamental painting is going to rely mostly on two things in order for the stencil designs to stand out. Do you know what they are?

Take a close look at the photo below and it should tell you right away what the problems are.

Progress painting of ornamental stencil design.
Stencil Design Winged Horses by Vigini Paint and Design

If you answered color value and intensity/chroma you would be correct. It’s pretty obvious what is wrong  with the image above. The lower part of the “Winged Horses” stencil darkest value is lost in the back ground of the distressed faux wood panel and looks flat with no dimension. If you look at the upper part of the stencil the darkest value is much stronger as it is darker than the darkest value in the distressed panel. Of course it needs cleaning up a bit but it’s apparent that the darkest values of the lower part have to be much darker. As for the upper part of the grotesque mural painting the darkest values are nearly there but something is still wrong with it. The high-lights are actually getting lost in the  back ground also. In order to make the high lights pop out we are going to have to increase the saturation of color by kicking up the chroma or intensity which ever you prefer to call it. As you will see in the following photos I have increased both values and the saturation of color  in the high lights which makes for some dramatic results.

Grotesque ornamental painting on Distressed faux wood panel
Winged Horse Stencil by Vigini Paint and Design

I could increase the saturation of color  as in a normal grotesque ornamental painting but then I believe that would take away from the old worn appearance and look too “clean”.

There is much more to ornamental painting than what is shown here and it can get very elaborately detailed and I for one am all about detail work. Of course it’s all about time and budget when working on a commissioned basis, however if working on a non commissioned panel I could spend hours detailing new and hidden elements that you wouldn’t upon upon first viewing. In grotesque painting there really are few rules to stick to because it is such a free style of an art form that involves the combinations of plant, animal, and ornamentation as well as the morphing of figures that can create bizarre kinds of creatures that in some cases throughout history will tell some kind of story. It really is an interesting and beautiful art form that deserves the time to be studied extensively and respected.

For the extensive list of Faux Creme Colors by Faux Effects International I used in the

Grotesque Ornamental Mural Painting.

Just join my newsletter and leave a comment below and I’ll send the list of colors. Watch for my next post which is where I will be adding the Trompe Loeil details.

Yes, of course there’s more to this mural project, but for now be safe and happy painting….


Part One

Luster Stone Faux Fresco

Part Two

Distressed Faux Wood Panels,


2 thoughts on “Grotesque Ornamental Mural Painting”

    • Thanks Elaine, Although I don’t use Klout that much I have been reading some things about it that it might be something to watch in the future. My score goes up and down and to keep it at a steady number you have to be pretty active in both the social media and in Klout. The more social medias that pop up the more time you have to spend updating everything. It’s really getting quite rediculas lol

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