Finishing Details on Mural


Adding finishing details and final touches to this winter scene interior mural at 49 Degrees North Ski Resort in Chewelah Washington. My scaffold gets packed up and I use the ladders to work on the last parts of this project. With my smallest brushes, I paint, then backup to see how the whole wall looks to me. This little step-back-and-look habit, always really helps me to change my perspective making it possible to see things I do not notice when I am close to the wall. After repositioning myself, I usually see missing items better.


Watch Out

Mountaintops in the winter can easily become an addictive thing. This whole project is quite an enjoyable one for me as I am painting from my own memories on the hill. There is absolutely nothing like spending the day speeding down a powdery hill feeling the cold wind kissing your face. Your eyes take in some of the best views on the planet as your heart races similar to being on a rollercoaster. If you have not tried skiing yet, don’t miss out on this wonderful experience in your life. You may find that winter will become your favorite time of year! Really!

I tell you the truth, skiing is just about as much fun as you can have without breaking any laws.


Finishing Touches

I carefully add scattered groups of detail in larch and birch between the evergreens bringing a little realism into the whole impressionistic view. Stepping back, lets me notice that I am missing majestic tamarack trees both in the background and up front. Next some shrubbery is added at the tree bases using a rigger brush with dark browns and then adding snow on some of them. Some of the closest snow mounds receive a stroke of white to finish them up.


Standing back to get a better look, another missing ingredient comes to mind. I can’t forget to add little clumps of snow resting on the branches of the trees. If you knew our family, you’d know why that snow is important! Especially Patrick, who is known for sharing those clumps of snow with unsuspecting fellows on the slope. Okay, remember now that payback is patient dude!

Wall “A” is a twenty foot long space and all details are complete now.

Finished 49 Mural Wall A first half Finished 49 Mural Wall A second half

Wall “B” is a forty-foot wide wall in three sections, having 2 columns and a doorway in it. It also has a rather large storage cabinet built into the corner behind the cash register. It was kind of tricky to figure out where to put the finishing details and not cause confusion or competition with the door or columns, and use of the benches. People tend to hang out and examine the details in a mural, so I try not to interfere with the business by drawing attention with the placement of details to areas away from traffic patterns if possible.

finished 49 Mural Wall B1 Finished 49 Mural Wall B2 Finished 49 Mural Wall B3

Wall “C” is now finished as the shortest twelve foot wall that divides the nursery from the children’s club. The cash register counter is on the right where parents check-in with their children dropping them off for lessons on the hill.


“All Pau!” with this winter mural.

When you are all finished with something, then you are “all pau” with it in Hawaii. Which is simply a scrap of trivia information for those of you who enjoy collecting those little bits of information. I can’t wait to start skiing this season! Hope you can come up to 49 Degrees North to see the mural and let me know what you think. Time to pray for snow everyone!

Trees, Trees, Trees

Painting winter trees for an interior mural at 49 Degrees North Ski Resort in Chewelah Washington. These trees in a winter landscapes do not come naturally for me, I had to teach myself. I did not grow up knowing what the trees look like here or even knowing what winter looks like. At 30-years-old I moved from the tropics to Washington State and fell head-over-heals in love with winter and skiing. My eyes have seen a lot of these views over the years. Which was helpful in teaching myself about the four seasons, flora and fauna up here in the northwest.

One of the things that used to throw me for a loop, “What is the difference between deciduous and coniferous trees? ”

Painting Winter Trees

After figuring out the type and style of the trees in this mountain top mural, it becomes easier to proceed. I notice that I am painting 4 different color schemes of trees on the mountains. Painting one type of tree at a time throughout the whole 52 feet before changing color pallets, saves me time and energy. It also proves that doing all of one task before starting another is a good idea. My color pallet is usually a paint can lid with pools of 3-5 different colors that I mix as I paint.

I’m sure a thesis or two have been written about this phenomenon  being discovered. Words come to mind like productivity and work efficiency, you know, all those “foreign terms” to an artist’s soul. 

Winter Trees in the Distance

Wall C Horizon treesFaded and short rows of trees rendered in the distance. Grabbing very light blue, green, grays and white colors and I quickly add a horizon row of faded distant trees. Starting on wall “C” I put a line of light gray with a touch of teal small trees on a distant ridge just below the mountains.

Mid Range Frosty White Trees

Wall B Mid Range Grays

Frosty whites painted in the medium distance area overlapping the trees in the distant horizon. Cleaning the brushes, I place random frosty white trees by first under painting a gray base. By the time I finish the last base the first one is tacky enough to add white layers on top.

Gray and Green Trees Mid Range

Wall B Mid Range Trees

Grayed greens overlapping the horizon line and mixed in the middle with the frosty whites. Cleaning the brushes again I grab grays with my primaries and begin mixing by dipping the brush in different colors and mixing on the wall as I paint.

Large Up-Front Green Trees

wall B & C trees

Lastly, are the large forest green trees that are close-up in the foreground. I begin to render these only occasionally in the image.

As I finish all the trees on wall “B” & “C” I look back at the first wall “A”. I see an error. It becomes obvious that I have put way too many trees in the foreground on that wall. There is a good reason to not have the trees come right down to the base of the wall where the bench and cubbies underneath are for the kids. Keeping the lower wall area clear allows the kids to be able to lean back without worrying against the wall. Furthermore, with too many trees coming right down to the bench makes the sight becomes distractive and busy, instead of comforting and inviting. I make a mental note to myself to change the first wall to have less up front and personal trees to remedy this.

Wall A Grays and White Trees

You can see how changing the trees to gray and green along with the frosty whites and leaving only a couple green guys up front totally changed it into a more distant and approachable view.

Mural Prep

Painting Prep

Mural prep involves communication then coordination. The surface preparation, priming, painting and any modification to structure or trim has to be planned and executed at convenient times around the painting. This mural for the 49 Degrees North Ski Resort Kids Room is just beginning.

Mural prep left wall
Mural prep left wall

Lots of Workers

The talented carpenter dude came in and redesigned the benches adding more bench area and more cubby’s for the kids to use. A pro is always the best choice! This change makes the area more usable and maintainable as the instructors and their students meet up and get ready to go out and experience the hill each day. Others numerous trade workers spent hours priming and painting all the walls, beams and columns.

Mural prep back wall
Mural prep back wall

Now, it is time for the artist to come on in and get to work. I take paints, drop cloths, a small scaffold, ladders, buckets, brushes and my lunch box in to get setup. Here is the background all primed and painted in medium gray before I begin to paint.

Max, job supervisor
Max, job supervisor

This is Max, my helper or supervisor, always available to help me or remind me to take a break and give him a walk. 🙂


Mural Painting

Murals are another form of painting for the artist in me. Big is beautiful and fun for the artistic spirit. I have been up on a mountain doing a mural painting for 49 Degrees North Chewelah Basin Ski Resort. A place I love to spend time at in both summer and winter.

Before in the Kids’s AreaChildren's Area Before

Children’s Area before shot with Ben Short.These images are just examples of how it looks before the upgrade is done. For years, there have been bright red benches along with great comical characters lining the walls for years. This bright theme has been great but now we feel the need to provide a more mature decor for the older youngsters (teens) on the hill who are the next generation of up and coming extreme riders and race champs.

before back wall
before back wall
before left wall
before left wall
before entry wall
before entry wall
before signup checkin
before signup checkin