Ok, so I’m not an expert on fishing, but if you’re going to park a Nitro bass boat in your garage (Man Cave), best do it in style!

This Tackle Shop mural was one of my favorite projects during the peak of the 2020 pandemic! I loved the way it turned out- the realism and warm country charm. But what’s especially interesting about this mural is that it was painted at 100% scale- or life-sized! And you’ll see what I mean here soon. There was a lot of engineering that went into painting this mural!

Initial Sketch

I almost never do a scaled drawing first- but this wasn’t just painting- I was building something! First off, the ceiling was over 15 feet tall- pretty large for a residential garage. And there is a LOT to work with- a horizontal trim piece that jutted out ½ inch at the 5-foot mark. We tried to remove this, but it wasn’t going anywhere. Then, smooth drywall for the 10 feet above the trim and cinderblock for the 5 feet below the trim- making for a delightful mix of textures (please denote sarcasm). And yes, even a crawl space entrance to add just one more element of challenge. It is times like this, as a custom painter for close to 20 years, that I’ve learned to say to myself, ‘ I don’t know HOW it’s going to work…. It just is!’ And off we go down the rabbit hole!…

Adding guidelines

My sketch didn’t need to be too detailed- but it did need to make all the elements fit and give me a guideline as I moved forward. So I began taping the major lines on the wall and re-measuring, just to make sure I got it right. In all my years of painting, I’ve learned that nothing is more important than getting the sense of scale just right!

Blocking the space

Once the major lines were drawn in, I could begin blocking in my space and start experimenting with the texture. Note the change in the treatment of the wood- horizontal boards above that trim piece- but vertical slats below to disguise the cinderblock. And I used the actual trim piece as…. Well, a piece of trim! Imagine that!

The sign was also a key element to this mural. You can see how I changed the shape and made it a bit smaller. I made paper templates to get the lettering just right.

I think it’s interesting to note that the white-washed wood was achieved by starting with a beigey brown first and dry brushing the wood grain overtop with shades of white and gray.

Turning trim into a dock

Then, just to take a break from all the wood graining, I started to paint some of the water. Once again, you can see where I made that trim piece into a horizontal dock… I know, I’m sneaky like that.

Door to hide the door

The addition of an actual screen door solved the problem of what to do about the crawl space- this is the main reason why I went with 100% scale. Once I realized the crawl space was the width of a normal door, that seemed to be the answer- make the fishing shack life-sized! You can imagine my relief to see that the door fit perfectly! Once in place, it was easy to draw in the stairs and handrail with the correct perspective.

All in the details

Finally, as I like to say- the glory is in the details!… That ice chest is my favorite part about the entire mural. I don’t know why except it’s exactly what you’d see at a place like this… rusting on a porch that can barely support the weight and making a ton of noise. Furthermore, my client accented the ‘building’ with metal signs, a real lantern and we installed an actual fishing rod on the sign!

Hidden door

The door returned whitewashed and matching the rest of the building- and the tackle shop was complete!

Putting it all together!