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Fresno's First Major Trompe l'oeil Mural


I'd like to share the tromp l'oeil mural I completed at Crazy Bernie the last week of June, 2012. It is the first large-scale trompe l'oeil mural in Fresno spanning a surface area of approximately 3553.36 feet along with some additional signage.  Readers might recall that I changed some signage for the owner when he re-opened his store back in May of 2011 along with a a very large "portrait" of him.  You can read all about that here.


I worked on the mural on average for 4 hours a day with about one week of full time, 7-8 hour painting days. The entire project spanned about 3 months in total from the first 1/4 sheet thumbnail sketch to completion. I used two snap lines, a 36" aluminum ruler and graphite pencils to transfer my Arch D-sized plan onto the wall and did execute one oil transfer for the hanging figure from a life-sized charcoal drawing cartoon on brown craft paper. The drawing stage took 5 days to complete, breaking ground on April 15th 2012. Aside from the few expected minor adjustments I added 9 major one-point perspective elements on site using a combination of mathematics and some venerable drafting techniques. I also had use of a very leaky and unreliable mechanical scissor lift but I abandoned it after the first 4 days (it wasted more time than it saved) reluctantly using a combination of ladders to finish it. I also used a shopping cart as a mobile platform along with two custom built table tops from scrap shipping palettes found on site.

I must admit that I was very weary to add another piece of non-art to Fresno's limited muralscape. I don't mean to suggest Fresno lacks murals numerically. Fresno lacks, with a limited handful of exceptions, qualitative murals which exhibit any sense of saving grace, beauty or even purpose. They are often ugly for ugliness' sake, hellbent on defiling public space and blighting empty storefronts downtown whose existence is more appropriate in the twisted, nightmarish worlds of Tim Burton than any resemblance to fine art. They do little more (often much worse) than what the graffiti does (which thankfully will periodically cover them). I felt a nagging sense of civic duty to create something that did not foul the visual environment in a similar way but still satisfied the client's commercial aspirations towards his customer base. Its wholly up to the viewer to decide if I succeeded on either account.
If you are interested in a mural or more traditional oil painting on canvas, please don't hesitate to contact me for a free consultation.
Here are a few quick facts about the project along with quantities used in parenthesis:


  • Paint Type: Exterior Flat Acrylic
  • Brand: BEHR from Home Depot
  • Qty of Paint: 4 - 5 gallons (approximately)
  • Main Colors: White (1/2 g), Navy Blue (1g), Brown (1g), Orange Peel Yellow (16 oz), Black (1 qt, 8 oz), Thalo Green (1 oz)
  • Figure Colors: White (4 oz), Orange Peel (4 oz), Ca Poppy Red (4 oz), Pure Black (4 oz), Navy Blue (4 oz)
  • Brushes Used: 2.5", 2", 4" dense foam roller, 1" brush (3), 2" foam brushes (3, discarded early-on)
  • Frog Tape: 2" x 180' (11 = $106.59!)
  • Paper towels (hand cleaning): Countless!
  • Misc: 3" hole saw with 3/8" arbor bit, drill, hammer, saw, etc (used to make custom palette)
  • Specialty: mobile ladder

  • Oil transfer on primed canvas 36" x 24", scale .023875:1

    Same canvas as above, color plan. The shadow lines indicate a time of 1:18 pm on March 6th.
    This is technically the only accurate viewing time and day per year.

    Oil paint used to create the color study.
    The building's exterior was painted with the actual exterior paint.

    Inverted color, overexposed photo to show the line drawing on walls.
    To finish the line drawing and all of the perspective took one week, working 4 -5 hours a day.
    AutoCAD WS mobile was really helpful.  I also added 9 major interior objects on site.

    Part of the mural spans this forwarded section and added an interesting challenge.

    The section on the left is the stripped natural raw concrete.
    The rectangular section on the right is my interpretation of the material in acrylic latex.

    This shopping cart came in handy as a mobile table.

    The table top was modular to be used between platform and shopping cart.
    A similar paint palette was made for the mobile ladder.

     The figure freshly transferred from the cartoon.

    Painting time lapse: 100 hours in 20 seconds.
    Worth enlarging.