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I often get questions about outdoor murals for fences and the rules of composition for fence murals. Though there is no right or wrong answer, any theme can very well be on a fence of any length and size. But there are some principles one needs to keep in mind when preparing to create a hand painted mural on a long format wall. The most important step is the creation of a strong, harmonious design or sketch for the mural.

  • Think in big terms and then gradually move to the smaller elements. Locate the placement of the largest elements composing the mural.
  • A few words on the center of composition, in a classic composition there should be one main focal point, in the design of a long fence mural there can be a few or even none. It depends on the fence itself, and if there is an obvious center to the space. Long format compositions classically called a frieze, are very similar to a composition of an ornament and usually the same rules will apply to it too. Of course, an artists taste or pursued idea take precedence.Yulia_Avgustinovich_artist_LA_Bay_Area_hand_painted_wall_murals, Decorative Painting_Muralist
  • A good practice is to “break” one long composition in smaller parts, that are united within one theme, style and color range.
  • Think about the rhythm of the elements of your composition for your outdoor wall art. Alternate vertical elements with horizontal and diagonal lines, big with small, light and dark. 

    Yulia_Avgustinovich_Artist_Bay_Area_hand_painted_wall_murals_Nature_Theme_Fence decoration_Mural

    Mythological frieze sarcophagus showing the Labors of Hercules. Ca. 170 AD. Mantua, Palazzo Ducale.

  • Don’t put two of the same size or color elements together, only do this when you’re planning to alternate them later in your composition.
  • As any other composition, there should be a coloristic and tonal harmony throughout the whole mural Shapes of colors, spaces and gaps between the elements should be balanced, elements shouldn’t be the same sizes as well.

    Yulia_Avgustinovich_Artist_Bay_Area_hand_painted_wall_murals_Nature_Theme_Fence decoration_Mural

    Dionysiac mystery frieze,wall paintings in room 5 of the Villa of the Mysteries, Pompeii, Italy, ca. 60-50 BCE

  • Study some classic examples of ornamental and long format designs, such as old Greek friezes, relief and painted ornamental murals. At first it seems that they all are very different, but after detailed study you will start noticing similar rules of composition and that the same principles apply to all of them.


    Mosaic frieze, depicting The Triumph of Arts and Sciences on the Royal Albert Hall in London

Alternation of rhythms, diagonal, vertical and horizontal lines, color elements and tones, you will understand that there is almost a mathematical accuracy in theses compositions.Iran,-Persepolis,-Carved-frieze-with-many-figures-on-the-Staircase

Here is an example of my fence mural “The Forest” in St. Petersburg, Russia. The mural was covering a long metal fence covering a subway construction zone. Although the style can seem childish, all the same rules of composition apply here: rhythmic alternation of vertical lines (trees), wavy lines of roads and trails, dark and light spots of bushes and lakes, alternating between large and small elements.

The fence murals were made by: Yulia Avgustinovich, Mihail Klimovski, Ruslan Atrohov. St. Petersburg, Russia/ 2009

I hope this information will help you in the creation of a very strong, harmonious designs for your fence murals and other long-format compositions. Leave me a note or comment, I would like to see your fence murals, whether your project is realized or not, and help with your design struggles.

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artist, best practices, fence mural, hand painted, large wall art, mural, mural art, mural design, mural project, muralist, outdoor mural, wall mural, wall murals, Yulia-art


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