Sketching Serenity: My Joyful Journey in Envisioning Mural Masterpieces

As an artist beginning a new series of mural designs, I’m discovering that the rhythm of creation comes more naturally than I anticipated, each line flowing into the next with an ease that is both exhilarating and deeply familiar. My current focus is on identifying potential walls—the perfect canvases for my mural art—and these walls speak to me. They resonate with my need for rhythm, and I find myself extracting the lines and shapes therein to weave a complete story, be it abstract or laced with human motifs.

In this creative endeavor, I rely heavily on my favored tools: the Faber Castell Pitt pen for its rich, dark blacks, and black watercolor for a myriad of gray tones. My faithful No. 2 pencil leads the initial charge, laying down the framework upon which my compositions take flight. The process isn’t linear; the pencil, pen, and brush interact in a dance where lines connect, diverge, and reconnect in a manner that captivates the eye and challenges the mind to see the potential of vast mural scales.

Dick Crispo in his art studio April 2024
Dick Crispo in his studio on Cannery Row in Monterey, California enjoying a spring day making art.

The series I’m working on is drawn quickly, keeping the flow of my arm steady from brain to hand to paper, in a continuity that breathes life into the inanimate. This flow is central to my art—it’s about transferring energy onto the medium, whether it’s paper or an expansive wall waiting for a mural’s embrace.

Nature plays a dual role in my work. It infuses my surroundings with an organic essence that my lines attempt to capture—sometimes contrasting sharply against geometric forms like buildings beside a park. Even the geometric has its place in the organic order of things, and I find this duality to be the fascinating order of nature’s own design. Living among a rich diversity of trees, terrains, and water bodies here on the Monterey Bay, I absorb the beauty around me and let it influence my creations in unpredictable ways.

Darks and lights within a piece tell their own nuanced stories. The darks are particularly important to me. They are not a mere absence of light but are full of depth and potential, and they must be allowed their own sort of respiration. By sprinkling bits of light among the darks, I give them room to breathe, enhancing their presence on the paper or wall.

In creating art, I act more as a conductor than a dictator. The artwork chooses its path, and I am there to facilitate its journey. I might start with a preconceived notion of what the piece should be, but often it becomes something else entirely—something alive, independent, and exciting.

Dick Crispo using markers and watercolors to sketch mural designs
Dick Crispo using Faber-Castell Artists PITT Pens for his drawings.

Visualizing these designs wall-size transforms them. A sketch on paper could one day engulf a 20 foot by 60 foot wall, becoming more than an image—it becomes an environment where the organic and geometric intermingle to form a new kind of architectural poetry.

My approach to creating a series involves ensuring each piece carries a kinship with the others, creating a family of designs linked by a common thread. This unity reflects the sequential nature of my thoughts, ensuring a cohesive storytelling through art, even as each piece remains distinct.

The murals that I imagine are therefore more than just aesthetic statements; they are immersive experiences. They don’t merely decorate walls; they bring forth a dialogue, a visual language that engages and challenges onlookers. As the series unfolds, each prospective wall heralds the promise of becoming a storyteller, engaging passersby in a silent exchange that transcends the here and now, inviting them to step into the world within the mural—a world I’m in the very process of conceiving.

To watch a full video about this blog post, visit my Youtube channel.