A Good Year
28th Nov 2015Posted in: Blog 1
A Good Year

As the warm weather was ending in October,and even though there were several months left, it felt like the year was coming to a close. It has been a busy year. Aside from my local workload, I have traveled out of state quite a bit, doing some murals for Cabela’s Outdoor Outfitters and another large client. Luckily, the warm weather held off long enough to do one more project I was really looking forward to. It was a semi-local mural in Genoa, Illinois – a mere hour away. I could practically skip there.

The client was Prairie State Winery and they had recently moved into a new-old location. They did some major remodeling to the interior and exterior of an old building and wanted a mural on the side to finish it off.


Outdoor murals can be brutal, and in my experience, they almost always have been. The sun, wind, rain, and bugs are major nuisances, and yet, I was really looking forward to this one; I’d been doing so many landscapes that this mural was an opportunity to do something different.

I met with one of the owners a couple of months earlier and we discussed possibilities for the mural. I went away with a good sense of his expectations and a few days later sent him several sketches of landscape mural ideas or giant wine bottle and glass variations.

I wasn’t actually too keen on doing yet another landscape, but I wanted the client to feel like he had some options, so I made the sketches of vineyards underwhelming in comparison to the giant wine glass options. He decided on a giant wine bottle, glass, and grapes. Excellent choice sir.

A good mural requires good references and in this case I was able to set up the scene and photograph it on location.

I used one of their own bottles and a glass along with some fake grapes from Hobby Lobby. I liked how the shots turned out, but later realized that because it was a cloudy day, there was no blue sky reflected in the bottle and glass. Also, there were no good shadows on the wall. I waited for a clearer day and shot another setting. I combined elements from both images for the final mural.

I measured the wall and laid out the dimensions in Photoshop.

photo layout for size measuringEverything has to be pretty exact. If just one thing is out of scale, it looks hokey and ruins all of my hard work. I then drew the top left half of the bottle and glass at home on very large paper. Why half? Because at the site I would trace half onto the wall and then flip it horizontally. After I transferred the drawings, the hardest part was pretty much over. Painting is like autopilot once you know the drawing is accurate.



This  mural would normally take about five days, but due to weather it extended into two weeks.  It was a bit of an adventure. I got bit up like crazy from No see ums, played a lot of games on my iPad waiting for rain bursts to pass, and had a lot of fun talking to the locals who would stop by to see what was going on. The tea shop across the street had some incredible cinnamon rolls and the local diner served the biggest BLT’s (like the whole package of bacon was used for one sandwich]) that I’ve ever seen.  I enjoyed the whole experience so much, I was a little sad to be finishing.

Now I’m already looking forward to the first outdoor mural I’ve already booked for the spring.



For those of you that are so observant that you noticed how the hydrangea bush in the photos kept getting smaller as the mural progressed, I’d like to explain. It belonged to the city and the owner kept breaking off limbs every time he passed it; he resented that the mural he was paying for was getting blocked from view in any way.



About Eulojio Ortega

Eulojio Ortega has painted hundreds of murals and commissioned artwork since 2003 and is available for travel anywhere. Connect with him on Google+

One Response

  1. Linda Johnson says:

    Your talent never ceases to amaze me. Hope you have a merry Christmas.

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