Master the Statement Wall with These Tips from a Muralist

Step into Racheal Jackson's Technicolor world and take notes. She’ll give you the confidence to tackle your own statement-making wall treatment.

She's got a personality that's as colorful as the bright, fearless murals she's Instafamous for. (Find her @banyanbridges.) But the story of how she started painting them began with a decidedly less colorful choice. "I wanted to be a mature adult, and mature adults have gray walls," Muralist Racheal Jackson says. "Then I realized they didn't reflect me or my family at all." Wanting the effect of a bold wallpaper but quickly realizing it was over budget, she went to the hardware store and left with $25 of sample paint pots. Those samples brightened her walls and launched a career.

Racheal Jackson portrait sitting in living room
Racheal Jackson

Start Small

"I recommend starting small," Jackson says. "You're going to learn a lot as you go." Plan a mural in a spot behind or above a dresser or shelf, a corner or small hallway, or any other minor area you want a jolt of pattern or color. "That way, if you mess up, so what? It's a lot easier painting over 10 square feet than 100."

Racheal jackson

Our homes and clothes shouldn't all look the same, because we're not all the same. We're too cool and interesting for that. Let your freak flag fly, even if it's in gray scale.

— Racheal jackson

Design Your Mural

Geometry 101: "You can re-create about 90 percent of my murals with circles and lines," Jackson says. "I often start a design by making a bunch of squares and circles in Adobe Illustrator and rearranging them in different ways, adding curves and more shapes until it starts to build itself."

Paper Play: If computers aren't your jam, cut a bunch of paper paint chip samples into circles, squares, and strips, then arrange them until you come up with a design. Jackson says it's "almost like building a mural out of paper."

Smartphone: Snap a picture of a blank wall with your phone; use the photo markup tool to digitally draw a design on the picture.

colorful rainbow waves on living room wall
Racheal Jackson

Choose a Paint Palette

Jackson suggests pulling a combination of colors from a favorite fabric, piece of art, or anything that has a palette that makes you happy. This is a great place to start if you're new to murals because you can easily see how the colors work together. Another idea: Consult the wall of paint chips at your local paint or hardware store. "Start with a color you're drawn to," Jackson says. "For my living room mural, I knew I like reds and oranges, so I started there." Keep pulling chips you like and arrange them until you find a good balance.

If you're feeling overwhelmed, stick to one of the online palettes preselected by paint companies. Take screenshots of colors you like and lay them out on your computer screen to find an order that works.

yellow and pale pink block color in corner
Racheal Jackson

Handy Paint Tips

Stock your kit with Jackson's most-used brushes and tools:

  • 2-inch angled sash brush
  • Nylon detail brushes in assorted sizes
  • 4-inch roller
  • 4-foot level
  • Painters tape
  • Pencils

Use a ruler, level, and pencil to get equally spaced and straight lines. If using painter's tape (versus painting freehand), Jackson suggests first painting over the tape edge with the wall color. Once that coat is dry, it seals the edge so the new color can't seep under the tape.

After you've drawn the curves with a DIY compass, you need a steady hand and clean, soft brushes to get a crisp line. Jackson paints the outlines with a 2-inch angled sash brush ($6, The Home Depot) and detail brushes then fills the design using a roller ($10 for two, Walmart).

Jackson also recommends using matte or flat paint to avoid shine that might distract from the final colors and effect. She also uses aby wipes to quickly erase a whoops, then she goes right back in with a brush to clean the edge.

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