Design guided by the principal “beauty is part of function” cannot be more true than in the case of the South Pacific Mural in this southern Nevada residential backyard.
The clients—a retired couple—wished to transform the backyard of their newly constructed home into a South Pacific themed retreat. The project begun with several major design challenges: an unsightly, large retainer back wall with its bottom three feet below grade, a 4-foot tall slope and the nature of southwest desert environment with serious watering restrictions for landscaping. Design brief also included: no trees, no poisonous plants (to be safe for their young grandchildren), lots of bright colors, minimal maintenance, wheelchair access to side gate and last but not least “a mural that looks like a fine art painting”.
Deciding on making the mural the focal feature of the backyard helped planning the landscape as well as the effort to capture some of the wonderful travel memories of the clients’ long and happy marriage.
The project started with the creation of the mural. After thorough pressure washing to get rid of the efflorescence common to new block walls, it was prepared with two coats of concrete primer as well as two additional coats of masonry waterproofer on the below-grade area for sealing and conditioning the porous surface. To build additional structural integrity to the painting itself, the wall received two layers of underpainting before the final layer of artwork was applied with high quality outdoor latex paint. The mural was sealed for durability with top grade UV protectant varnish to withstand the harsh Nevada sun.
The overall design carefully blended lush tropical plants on the mural with water efficient desert plants on the ground by matching leaf shapes, flower colors and a reflecting curvature. A garden path made of large irregular flagstone pavers, natural boulders and color-coordinated landscape rocks further emphasized the colors and organic look of the South Pacific.
Photographs taken only three months after completion already show the potential for a lush tropical scenery, much to the delight of the owners. For the clients, commissioning a custom fine art mural was not only fun and empowering but also partaking in a creative process. For the artist, designing a backyard that keeps with water restrictions while fulfills the visual need for an open, airy, tropical backyard paradise was a success — a mural that is certainly part of the function.