This past June, I had the amazing opportunity to design a mural for my local Walmart in Stephens City, Virginia. Now Art, an LA based company, contacted me after finding me on Instagram and asked me to create a Mural for Walmart. Now Art does an amazing job finding artist across the US to design and create public artwork for iconic landmarks. Walmart is definitely considered an iconic shopping landmark here in America. At first they asked me to paint for Alexandria, VA Walmart but then seeing I was closer to Stephens City, they changed their mind. Stephens City, VA is known for their Drive-in Movie Theater, apple blossoms, the country side, and the blue ridge mountains in Shenandoah National Park. I knew I wanted to incorporate all of that and then some into this mural.
(Taken on Old Rag Mountain in Shenandoah National Park with my Nikon D750, 16-35mm lens, and Lee Filters. Purchase image here.)
(Taken on a mountain in Shenandoah National Park. I don't remember which one. I used my Nikon D750 and Rokinon 14mm lens. Click to purchase here.)
A little history on Stephens City. A man named Peter Stephens decided to build his first home in 1732 here in the state of Virginia. His son Lewis, who was a member of the Virginia General Assembly, named the town his father built his house on, Stephenson, later being known as Newtown. In 1880, it was changed to Stephens City and is the second oldest town in the Shenandoah Valley.
My boyfriend grew up in Stephens City, so it was extra important to do the painting justice. After getting all the details and signing contracts, I got to work. I decided to use watercolors for this piece as I wanted it to resemble my Lahaina Style painting from Maui. Also, watercolors don't take nearly as long as acrylics do for me. Acrylic's require between 5-15 layers, where as my watercolors require just a few for most of my paintings. The space the mural was installed is in the entrance way on the grocery side with the area being 7 feet in height by 30 feet in length. I did some math and figured that out for a smaller scale as I was using a 18x24 sheet of cold press watercolor paper. After mapping out the correct dimensions, I sketched out the painting incorporating the Drive-in, apple blossoms, cows, mountains, sunset, a cardinal, the Stephens City welcome sign, and a Virginia is for Lover's license plate on an old time VW Beetle.
Layer by layer, the painting began to build. I had less than a week to finish the painting, which is difficult for me as I like to take my time with my paintings. My painting process requires a lot of sitting and staring at the painting. I paint it several times in my head before I actually begin painting. For this piece, I didn't have much time so I just went for it. I got it done in 4 days and had it sent to them 1 day before the deadline.
Now, I didn't actually paint on the wall of Walmart. Now Art has artists paint either traditionally or digitally. I am not a huge fan of digital art, so I decided to do so traditionally. The pain with designing a mural traditionally, is that I had to make sure the quality was good for them to enlarge it onto vinyl. Since my painting was so small and having to blow it up to 7 feet by 30 feet, I had to take multiple photos and merge them together in photoshop. Thankfully, being a photographer, I have a really fancy camera. I took 3 images at 45 megapixels and blended them together in photoshop. After, I had to make sure the dpi was around 700 and then render the image to make sure I didn't lose any quality when they blew it up. All in all, they accepted the final image. In July, they installed the painting and after work one day, I went to check it out. I love how it came out!! It is so rewarding to see your work displayed in public, especially a public place like Walmart. Thank you to the Walmart greeter who took my photograph that day. He was in awe I painted the mural. I hope to do more murals in the future and maybe actually paint on a giant wall. How scary and fun would that be. Hope you enjoyed my story about my Walmart mural and if you ever want your own giant painting on Vinyl, canvas, or the wall itself, hit me up and we will figure something out together.