You can’t live in Colorado and not appreciate the mountains. So when I moved to North Carolina and no longer saw beautiful snow-capped mountains out my window every day, I was pretty sad.
After 7 years of living here, I still miss seeing my mountains every day. But then one day it clicked. If I can’t have the mountains, I can make some!
Flash forward a few hours and I created serene mountains right in the middle of our house! The wall is right next to our stairs, so once again, I get to see beautiful mountains every single day. I couldn’t be happier to have my mountains back.
Let’s start DIYing!
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What You’ll Need
- Paint (we mixed together Sherwin Williams Crisp Blue and Blue Midnight)
- Plastic spoon (or something else to mix and measure the paint)
- Cup or container to mix the paint (we mixed our paint in plastic paint containers so we could keep the extra and then mixed the paint with water in solo cups)
- Sea sponges
- Spray bottle
How to create a watercolor mountain wall mural
Step 1: prep
Tape up any trim and put a tarp down on the floor. I recommend a plastic tarp to avoid the traumatic experience that happened to us…I knocked over the darkest blue paint and it soaked through our canvas tarp and stained the carpet. And to make it worse, as I was hopping around, I accidentally knocked over ANOTHER cup of paint. All I can say is thank goodness for Folex and nail polish remover!
Step 2: Paint the base color
Paint the whole wall with the lightest color you want to use. This will allow you to paint with more freedom and not be concerned if any of the base color is showing through here and there.
STEP 3: sketch the design
Use chalk to sketch out your design on the wall after the base coat has dried. Don’t stress out about drawing your design. Just look at an inspiration picture and try to vaguely mimic the location of major hills and valleys. You will add some smaller variations as you watercolor, but you just need the basic design to start.
Note: White chalk is a great tool for sketching things out because it will allow you to visualize your design and simply erase if needed. Just run your hand over the chalk to remove it! It is also better than a pencil because the white chalk will not show through your paint. If you’re worried that the chalk will show through, simply erase it as you get close to painting it.
Step 4: mix your paint
Once you have the design sketched out, determine how many color variations you need based on the number of mountains you have. Each mountain will have its own color–and don’t forget a color for the sky! The sky should just be the slightest bit darker than the base color. Just enough to see the texture you add with the sea sponge! For our sky color, we just added a few drops of gray to the base color.
To create your paint colors, you can mix the lightest and darkest colors together in different ratios. I like to start by creating the lightest color and then continue with each darker shade. I grabbed a paint swatch with all of the colors I wanted and put test dots on top of the swatches to see if they were close in color when they dried. For some of the lighter colors, I had to add a little grey paint to the mixture to get it just right. Luckily we had some extra in the garage! If you don’t have a lot of paint laying around, you can substitute craft paint or get a sample of grey paint. Or you can just deal with the fact that the colors don’t match the swatch exactly ?
Note: you don’t need very much paint to cover the wall since you will also be adding water. That being said, it’s always better to mix more than you think you’ll need when you’re mixing colors. It can be hard to match it exactly later.
Next, you need to add your water. I recommend mixing your paint and water in a separate cup than you created the color in. Don’t use all of the paint right away since you might want to add more paint if you add too much water. There’s no perfect formula on how much water to add. I used a solo cup to try to get my measurements. I added paint up to the top of the bottom section of the cup then filled it about 2/3 full with water. That being said, you might end up wanting to add more or less water based on how the mixture spreads on your wall. If it seems to be too thick to easily spread along the wall, add more water. If it’s too translucent or it starts to drip, add more paint.
step 5: paint
Grab your spray bottle and lightly mist the top section of the wall that you will be starting with. You want to keep the spray bottle about 12″ from the wall and just spray a few times. You don’t want the wall to be so wet that the paint will drip.
Dip your sponge in the paint mixture that is just a smidge darker than your base color for the sky. Lightly rub your sponge in a circular motion other the wall to create some movement. After creating the circular motion I like to go back and gently tap the sponge along the strokes to give it more of a sponge texture than a streaky texture. Play around with your sponge strokes and determine your favorite texture. You want to use various techniques to add more interest to the wall.
If you want the wall to look misty, lightly spray your wall a few more times after you finish painting. This will give the look of water drips making its way down the mountain.
Continue your way down the mountain wall using a dark shade for each mountain. Whenever you transition between colors, squeeze your sponge to get out most of the paint. There is no need to wash the sponge because it will give your wall more of a gradient look. Start by tracing over the chalk line with your sponge, then go back over it using a circular motion and dabbing. Don’t stress about tracing it exactly. Try to add a few extra bumps here and there. You might want to lightly dip your sponge in the lighter color and lightly dab over the transition point to blend the colors even more.
Remember, walls like this are supposed to be abstract. Try to go outside the lines here and there and try your best not to fixate on making yours look exactly like mine or anyone else’s.