How Did We Make the Paint Spot 6 Murals? #PaintSpot6 Murals

It has been a 6-year process to improve the exterior of our building and it didn’t start with our Paint Spot 6 murals. Our goal was to transform the utilitarian, cement-block structure into a work of beauty.  During the summer of 2010, we painted the long wall a deep purple colour. Even back then, it was called a catalyst for area revitalization. The addition of the murals down the east wall of the building has created an outdoor gallery.  The parking lot and alley became more inviting for people to walk through. This humble space is now visually engaging and is sure to be a meeting point for visitors and a gathering place for the community. Thank you to Capital City Clean Up and the Old Strathcona Business Association for their support.


Six artists created paintings on panels for the east exterior wall of The Paint Spot, 10032 81 Avenue to create the Paint Spot 6 murals. To make an 8 foot x 8 foot painting required two panels put together. The six pieces mounted on the purple wall of The Paint Spot transformed the wall into an outdoor art gallery. The Paint Spot’s wall faces the Trinity Church Mural and the Tirecraft Street Art Mural. Together, these three buildings create a mural courtyard around a parking lot.

72 Artists Contributed 77 proposals

So many great ideas and images; we just have to share them. We’ve collected all submissions in a precious reference binder. Do you know anyone looking for a mural artist? Come view this binder. We’d love to find a home for each and every piece of art submitted. If you have a wall, funds, and a timeline, we’ll help you plan your mural. We are available to present informative sessions on how to do a mural.  Contact Kim Fjordbotten at The Paint Spot.

Installation July 6, 2016

July 6 was installation day. The weather cooperated and the Paint Spot 6 murals were able to complete the install in one day. Thank you to Phil Bentson from Arctic Insulation for their creative ideas on how to float the panels on the wall. It looks amazing. He even moved and replaced the parking signs for our neighbours. Thanks Michael Ortiz and Brent Wysak for lending a big hand when needed. Many neighbours and visitors have come out to share comments. “Epic”, “Beautiful” and “We love the bear!” were heard often.

Paint Spot 6 mural Installation on The Paint Spot purple wall
Paint Spot 6 Mural Installation
Paint Spot 6 murals, a view of all 6 after varnishing and installation

June 30, 2016 varnishing

varnishing murals in preparation for installation

To ensure our murals will look beautiful for years to come, we followed the varnishing advice by Golden Acrylics. We elected to go with a gloss varnish because it will add richness and shine to each piece. For my own work, I prefer Satin finish but I think these murals will look best glossy. First, an isolation coat of Golden Soft Gel Gloss is diluted with water is applied. (2 parts by volume Soft Gel Gloss to 1 part water).

This was rolled on to coat the panel quickly and evenly. Then the surface was smoothed with a brush and the bubbles and roller texture were brushed away smoothly. Long, straight strokes were painted horizontally across the surface. Golden Soft Gel Gloss did not level as smoothly as I thought so I chose to dilute the gel a little more by adding a touch more water. This isolation coat will provide an extra layer of protection to the artwork to reduce abrasion caused by wind and hail. It will also protect the mural if we ever have to remove the varnish to clean tagging or vandalism. The isolation coat must dry for 2 – 3 days.

Ventilation is key

Next, we applied Golden MSA Varnish Gloss. Warning, this is a strong varnish that requires a real painting solvent to thin it ( 3 parts MSA Varnish to 1 part Stevenson Painting Solvent). Stir well and add more solvent if needed for the application. I painted in my husband’s garage with the big door open. (Well at least until the wind blue the popular fluff inside. We then had to close the doors). Please wear a respirator and gloves when working with this product.

Wow, a painting really does look better varnished. They are stunning.

isolation coat during varnishing murals show the progress of the pieces
Isolation Coat drying for 2 days. It still looks a little streaky.
da Vinci Mottler brush smooths bubbles away during varnishing
Paint roller left bubbles but a soft-haired da Vinci Mottler brush smoothed them away. This was my favourite part.
What the heck? Some surface anomaly repelled the varnish just in these three little spots??
What the heck? Some surface anomaly repelled the varnish just in these three little spots??

June 20, 2016- Murals in Progress.

10 panels have been delivered. They look amazing. Here are some behind-the-scenes of the artists.

Byron McBride and his mural in progress
Byron McBride
Jamaika Lukac working on her mural in progress
Jamaika Lukac
Katie Green working on mural details as the mural progresses
Katie Green
Jordan Pearson starts working on details on her mural progress
Jordan Pearson

May 25, 2016 – Watch murals in progress 

Thank you to Byron McBride for sharing the progress of his mural piece on YouTube. It is a pleasure to watch an authentic approach to painting. Few paintings are created in a half hour complete with little happy trees. Often it is an uphill battle and a technical challenge. Byron’s commentary would be hilarious except I am acutely aware of the frustration and fatigue he talks about. All of the ups, downs, surprises, and disappointments are recorded. It is honest, and it might be an eye-opener for everyone who thinks artists are so lucky to have a way to express themselves, ugh. It will also explain why many of us shy away from commissions. Well done, Byron. PS, I love the little secret floating in the sky that few will see. Perfect, just perfect. Be sure to like, share and subscribe to Byron McBride on YouTube.

Byron McBride work in progress Videos

May 10, 2016 – Mural progress with Daphne Cote

From underpainting to expressive dashes of colour, the portrait is coming along. Join Daphne Cote on Facebook to see her mural progress.

Daphne Cote's work in progress
Hollyhocks had to be removed in preparation for installation of murals

May 4, 2016  – Preparation of exterior wall for murals

Sad news for our wall of hollyhocks. Last summer, we debated about what to do with the wall the flowers that self-seeded down the east side of our building. Weed them or leave them? We choose to let it go naturally. Watching flowers grow tall and beautiful with no care was a miracle. Mother Nature is impressive. The flowers and our wall were featured in many Instagram photos.  Derk’s Formals put sharp-dressed men in purple ties and purple shirts in front of the purple wall with purple flowers. They were really beautiful photos.

Unfortunately, the hollyhocks grew in the cracks between our building and the concrete; not an ideal place for plants, buildings, or our Paint Spot 6 murals. This year they’ve come back with even more vigor. The mural will be installed on this wall later in the summer. The tall stocks and leaves of the hollyhocks would cover the bottom of each mural and risk scratching the image surface on windy days. The thick foliage of the hollyhocks also gathered so much garbage and provided hiding spots for unmentionables. We had no choice but to cut them down.

The Paint Spot's gorgeous front garden was the new home of the hollyhocks

There is good news. Thanks to Brent, Sarah, and Michael our front garden has received extra love, water, and weeding this year. It looks amazing! The hollyhocks are doing well in this bed.

Have you noticed the sticker gallery on the light post outside our store? Draw your own sticker and add it to the collection. This Street Art Sticker Slap Gallery changes weekly.

Priming and Prep of the mural panels

April 30, 2016 – Preparation of the mural panels

We used Dibond (E-Panels) for our murals. Thanks to Brent and Michael for helping sand and prime these panels. Such beautifully-prepared, white surfaces are inviting. Suddenly I envy the artists who get to paint upon them.

Mural Alley free wall

April 1, 2016  – The free wall closes and the mural alley starts

Mural Alley is the informal name for the back alley behind The Paint Spot between 100 and 101 Streets, which emerged after the Open Source Pilot Project closed. For two years, this wall hosted a graffiti pilot project run by Capital City Clean Up and the Edmonton Arts Council with help from The Paint Spot, Old Strathcona Business Association, and the Neighbor Centre. The project was to explore the possibility of a legal Free Wall while managing spillover and tagging. We learned a lot. In part, it was great. What was once an ugly neglected wall became home to an ever-changing gallery of street art. It was wonderful to come to work every day and see new art. Meeting artists and talking with them was also interesting and educational.

The project was difficult to administer. A large part of the pilot project was to document whether a free wall caused an increase in tagging vandalism or help decrease it by offering an alternative. Unfortunately, the outcome proved highly subjective. The conclusion of the graffiti audit said tagging vandalism increased in the area. Yet we heard from other businesses that said they saw a reduction in tagging on their property elsewhere in Old Strathcona.

Alas, the project and study are now closed. I am sad but my rant is postponed until I can be less emotional. At least, the wall has transitioned to a new permanent mural. Thank you AJA Louden, Evan Brunt, and Clay Lowe. I still believe a free wall can work. If you have a property owner interested in offering space for another free wall, I am available to offer advice.

Thank you to the following organizations for helping us fund our mural project.

Sponsor logos - Capital City Clean Up, The Paint Spot, Art Walk, Old Strathcona Business Association

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