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Fontainebleau playground/ The mural

Updated: Jan 25, 2021

I have completed my fourth mural of the year and my best piece yet.

You can see it in the awesome reception space of the awesome Roc Bloc Cardiff climbing gym (check them out if you are in the area!).

This is much more detailed and much bigger than the murals I have done before and it was a great experience, if a little intensive. You would think that as someone that has been an architect for 10 years+ I would know what 4m feels as a space but when I got there i realised that the wall was much bigger than what I imagined form the pictures. So when It was rather exciting when set the projector and saw how big the drawing will become.

It proved to be quite a challenge to cover such an area in such a short time but it also now gave me a lot of confidence to take on bigger things and it was the perfect size in the end.

The funny thing is that originally I proposed an option that spread across the entre width of the wall and worked around the window. God knows how long that might have taken!

It only took me two days.

But It was two days of non stop drawing, and I had to go at a mad pace!

I drew all the black outlines, the trees and the coloured shapes on the first day, probably starting drawing at 9.30/10 am only to stop at 7.30pm, with just some small stops to snack.

I realised quite quickly that doing all of this in two days was quite optimistic and that I had to go full blast, in particular to make room for any last minute bleep and adjustments required. The time constraint got me into that deep focus I haven't been experiencing for a while, the perfect productive state when you hit the right balance of challenge, abilities and skills.

I was really happy with where I got to on the first day and in my mind, I “just” had to do the black fills of the shadows on the second days, maybe finishing early afternoon and have plenty of time for a climb.

Oh boy i was wrong!

I started with the two big boulders on each side and after finishing the second I looked at the time for the first time since the morning. Climbers have been ordering lunch so I knew it might have been around noon or 1pm… but it was already close to 2pm!

And I had all the shadows in the middle and the retouching left to do. There was a moment of semi panic, then I resolved to just go as efficiently as I could and see how much was possible to do in the day. And if I had to stay one more night so be it!

I think basically the boulder on the right had just far more details than everything else and therefore took lots longer, because I managed to blast through the rest in only three more hours. I had then an hour of retouching, and time to take loads of pictures and finally to enjoy a proper climb afterwards!

My Molotow markers absolutely saved my life.

The plan was to do the outline with the parker then do the trees and the fills with paint.

but when it came to do the tree, I quickly tried with paint and then had an hint to also try with the marker and wow the trees where done in a flash where this is usually something that take absolutely ages!

I would have never been able to complete as fast as I did using paint and brushes and the depth of the black is just stunning and makes the design pop so well. I can’t believe that a single market did all the fills and all the trees and its not even empty and the tip is not dead! Absolutely magic tool.

I buy them at my local store (the mighty Great Art) but they are also available online (Amazon, etc)

The colours are a mix of Posca, Acrylic paint and house paint (Dulux).

I will do a special post one day to go into this in detail! :)

The design process

I have been lucky to have been given quite a bit of freedom in the design process.

The main direction was to create something in the line of the "boulderfield" mural that I designed for CanaryWall.

I sketched two proposals, that I initially stretched across the whole width of the wall, with an option to make them a little "smaller".

The option we selected is a collage of a few scenes and photographs of climber and boulders in action in the Fontainebleau forest I have gathered to create a coherent scene. So it is more a reconstitution of different areas of the forest rather than a specific place.

Once we agreed on proceeding this option, the design is developed at a bigger scale (60 cm wide) so that enough details can be added for the design to look good when projected on the wall at a much bigger scale.

The black and white drawing is then scanned, cleaned up and the colours added digitally, keeping in mind the range of colours available in my range of markets and paint.

And that's the design good to go to be painted on the wall!

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