Tag: Murals


5 Steps to Painting a Mural in Toronto

5 Steps to Painting a Mural in Toronto

The winters are long and harsh for the average Toronto artist. After a number of ice storms, TTC delays and snow days, many of us are already daydreaming about the hot summer days to come!

From Kensington Market to Underpass Park and Graffiti Alley, the warm weather also brings the promise of beautiful new street art to bond and honour our city.

With programs such as StreetART Toronto (StART) (partnership applications open until Friday February 15th), local artists can start preparing their colourful, vibrant and inspiring mural contributions for 2019!

Offering support, mentorship and funding to large-scale projects, StART aims to reduce graffiti vandalism by showcasing local artists and their innovative designs, deliveries and messages.

With street art season just around the corner, here are 5 helpful steps to painting a mural in Toronto:


Step 1: Preparing For Your Mural

Before you start planning, take some time to evaluate your space!

Whether your mural will be on the side of a building, a concrete barrier or a traffic signal box, get a good feel for the canvas you will be working with.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who will be seeing your mural?
  • What do you want them to feel?
  • What message do you have to share?

The project will be a lengthy one, so take a deep breath and enjoy the process of creating!

Step 2: Gather The Appropriate Tools

As a mural artist, you will need a very specific set of tools.

From paint, primer, varnish and brushes to paint rollers, sponges, ladders and stencils – consider the colours and textures you would like to achieve so that you have all of the necessary tools ahead of time.
If your mural is going to be exposed to direct sunlight, you might want to check the lighfastness (UV) qualities of your paint as well. Where quality acrylic mural paints may be ideal, traditional household paints are also a great way to handle blocking and/or under layers while being a bit more cost-efficient.

Be sure to bring along some protective tarps, aprons and goggles as well.

Step 3: Sketch Out Your Idea

Take off the pressure by having a plan in advance. This visual reference will help you transfer your ideas right onto your mural wall!

One easy technique is to divide your reference image and your wall into proportional grids.

Painting the image one square at a time will be much more straightforward than transferring a large image to scale all at once.

Step 4: Scan Your Mural Canvas For Imperfections

Take a careful look for mold, decay, old paint, warpage and/or imperfections before starting your project.

Once the area is cleaned, spackled and sanded, you should have a sufficiently smooth surface to finally start painting!

Step 5: Painting Your Mural

The background is always the best place to start. Feel free to cover large areas with large brushes and/or paint rollers! The faster the bottom layer goes up, the faster it can dry.

One helpful tip is to apply each layer and/or colour with periods of rest in between. This will allow for the paint to dry without the risk of smears and/or bleeding! Take a moment to step back and review your work from different angles as you go.

While you work your way to your final layer, you will find the opportunity to clean up your lines and cover up any accidents that may have popped up along the way.

Once you are happy, you can apply a layer of varnish sealant to protect the paint for years to come!

Interested in joining a collaborative community with like-minded people? Become a Creative Unicorn to participate in profit sharing projects, events and workshops within the city!

5 Must-See Street Art Locations in Toronto

1. Keele and Dundas West

Those who regularly take the Bloor-Yonge line on the TTC subway have no doubt spotted this edgy masterpiece located in the heart of the Junction. The Keele Wall first began getting adorned with paint by a group of artists in 1991, and the images have evolved since. The collective behind this mural is none other than the HSA Crew.


2. Front Street and Union Station UnderpassImage and video hosting by TinyPic

This mural is as artistic as it is political. Located at the underpass right next to Union station, the Indigenous inspired mural was put together for the Mother Earth Water Walk, a group of Anishinabe people who started their organization in 2003, to raise awareness for clean water. The water walk takes place every year, and the next one is scheduled for September 24th 2018 in Niagara Falls.


3. Graffiti Alley on Queen St and Augusta

Graffiti Alley is one of the most famous street art locations in Toronto, and for good reason. The collective Style in Progress has been frequenting the spot for fourteen years now, to promote urban art, fashion and dance. One the left we see a portrait of famous local street artist Mike Kennedy, who passed away in 2016 and was known for collaborating on many murals across the city, including Seven New Wonders of the World, located at Broadview and Gerrard. Graffiti Alley is also the spot comedian Rick Mercer has often used for his rants on his CBC show The Rick Mercer Report.


4. Equilibrium on Carlton and Jarvis

The symbolism of this tall mural speak for itself. Standing at twenty-three stories, it’s the largest piece of street artist San Miguel’s career. Collaborating with the STEPS Initiative, artist Okuda San Miguel states that “the gay flag is like my palette because all the colours together symbolize for me, the multi cultures, multi gender, everything.” And with a canvas this size, it’s hard to miss when you’re walking in the neighbourhood of Cabbagetown.


5. The Awakening on Lawrence & Caledonia Underpass

Sparking controversy with some North York residents after first being unveiled in 2015, The Awakening has many layers of meaning. Put together by the Essencia Art Collective, the mural shows the evolution of nature and the impact of capitalism and the environment. Some residents said the mural looked “scary” and shouldn’t be located in a residential neighbourhood. Love it or hate it, it grabs your attention. Hence why it tops our list.


What’s your favourite street art in Toronto? Do you think art should be for enjoyment, a tool for social change, or both? What makes street art different? Leave a comment to get the discussion flowing.