Ceiling Mural

Warning: this will bore you right to sleep unless you're a D.I.Y.-er or an inept artist looking to get into trouble.

Okay, so here's the deal. I have this big 200 sq. foot lanai attached to my 600 sq. foot mobile home. In a house that tiny, that makes it BIG. Big enough for a semi-formal dining area AND art studio for my art crazies. Nice, you might say....except that it has three walls of plastic tinted windows that are heat magnets and no roof insulation to speak of...thus in the Floridian summer, you could fry an egg out there on just about any surface.

The first attempt to cool down the space was a portable air conditioner. It was pricey. It blew the electric circuit when it was running and I turned on the microwave. And it cost a fortune to keep running. It took the temperature down from 101 to 96. Still not livable.

I called an awning man, but he said the mobile home didn't have enough room at the top to hang awnings, and he honestly thought the incredible heat was from the roof.

The next attempt was to put TPO coating on the roof to reflect the hot sunshine off the entire house. It helped but only a little.

Determined to have this space, I then hired a handyman to put in a 2" foam board dropped ceiling, in way of insulation. Very cheap and tacky material, but others on the internet assured that it was a great way to insulate porches.

I also bought really cheap "solar curtains" (basically sheets of tin foil) and hung them over all the tinted plastic windows, behind the bamboo shades.

The ceiling: really ugly!


I thought I could gesso the ceiling before attempting my first mural. But the gesso seems to EAT the foam! I did considerable damage before I read on the web that gesso is a solvant and cannot be used on foamboard. (Beware, there are many websites that say it can be used as a primer, No!)

My next step was to tape drip papers all around the room (after removing the bamboo shades) as I planned to use spray paints (special "gentle" paints called "Design Master" without solvants in them.)



After a couple of days of working in that intense heat, (just taping drip paper!) I realized that it was going to be a big project indeed.

I began buying plastic tarps to cover the furniture. I did not take enough time to put things away and do this properly, so a very messy painter am I.

The gray primer (10 cans I foolishly purchased) didn't even begin to cover anything.

So, I thought, let me try the other Design Master colors I had bought, and see if any of them were close to my idea in my head:

Oh dear, no! The sky color wouldn't even cover the gray primer! Delicate indeed. All these spray paints (unused cans) went back. A trip to Home Depot got me the colors in plain ol' wall paint that I wanted, and I started with the late-evening-before-sunset-butterscotch color I had in mind around the edges. Geez, it was hot out there and it took a LONG time to go around the room.



Next I painted the middle of the ceiling with a pale aqua, a toned down blue.

Next came some lighter beigey-yellow, trying to build those loose clouds in late day. I was going for something subtle, rather than the standard baby blue and puffy white clouds (what, no cherubs?).



Then it began to get really hard. I have never done a mural before. I was not liking my lack of skill, and tried endless variations and colors but they all seem to look flat and dull on this foam board.



The only thing I could think of, before throwing in the towel, was to add some white clouds to brighten it a bit, and some pinks for warmth. That produced a slightly better result, but it's still pretty much an amateur job on cheap foam board.

So, a few more hours of hit and miss painting, I gave up and added the birdies I had planned. I may go back and tackle this again when I've cooled down, but it feels like I shall never be cool again after this job in the Florida heat!
The good news is that my handyman is going to run a duct from the main air conditioner to this lanai! So when I paint again, (if I paint it again), it will be in comfort.

Oh, by the way, these are those dopey tin foil curtains, but they really do cut down the outside heat! You can actually see through them, though it's hard to tell that in this photo. Mine to be covered with bamboo shades, and because my plastic windows are tinted, you can't see the aluminum foil from the outside either! Really tacky look to add to my really tacky ceiling. But hey, I'm having a good time.

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