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Plant a tree, add a beach ... with a paintbrush.

Colorful wall paintings can set the stage for plants, pools, patios, and outdoor parties. They also make small gardens seem larger, brighten heavily shaded walls, and provide backdrops for wall-mounted pots of flowers.

You can create simple designs yourself or hire a professional to make realistic, eye-fooling scenes (known as trompe l'oeil).

The festive tree of life pictured above was created by the homeowners. They started with a rough plan on graph paper; scaled up and cut out simple designs for a leaf, flower, bird, and butterfly from unlined paper; then made templates of those shapes out of cardboard. After cleaning the stucco wall with water and a stiff brush, they drew the trunk and branches onto it with dressmaker's chalk, then traced the templates around the branches. The design, which covers an 8- by 9-foot area between two windows, was colored with exterior latex paint (the owners purchased a quart of each color, blending in white for highlights). The project took less than a day to complete.

Laguna Beach artist Leah Vasquez, working with landscape architect Jana Ruzicka, created the back-yard beach scene pictured above right for Ann and Michael Cherney of Huntington Beach, California. The scene is designed so its sky blends into the real western sky, creating the illusion of space.

The slumpstone wall was primed with smooth masonry coating, painted with masonry paints while the coating was still damp, and then allowed to dry for several weeks before being finished with masonry sealer.

To complement the painting, Ruzicka chose an airy queen palm (Arecastrum romanzoffianum) and ornamental grasses. Iris, purple-flowered Verbena rigida, and white-flowered Gaura lindheimeri add seasonal color.

Rebecca Hengsteler designed the prancing horse shown at right to fit on a stucco inset in Ronald and Eloise David's poolside ramada in Tucson. It's bordered by sago palms and bougainvillea.

How to find an outdoor artist

Check in the yellow pages under Artists--Commercial, or Artists--Fine Arts. Many communities also have public art programs where you might get referrals for artists; or try county or state arts commissions. Applied and commercial art schools or local colleges, especially ones with strong applied art departments, are other sources.

Before selecting an artist, ask for photos of previous work to see whether the style and quality are right for you. Also ask to speak with clients. Outdoor wall paintings can cost from $15 to $50 per square foot, depending on the artist and complexity of the work.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:garden wall paintings
Publication:Sunset
Date:Aug 1, 1991
Words:407
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