Turn Walls into Art: How to Paint Vibrant, Abstract Murals | Adam Palmeter | Skillshare

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Turn Walls into Art: How to Paint Vibrant, Abstract Murals

teacher avatar Adam Palmeter, Artist / Comedian / Teacher / Author

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.



    • 3.

      Prepping the Wall


    • 4.

      First Brushstrokes


    • 5.



    • 6.

      Fine Tuning


    • 7.

      Filling the Gaps


    • 8.

      Metallic Accents


    • 9.

      Patching Holes


    • 10.

      Your Signature


    • 11.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

In this class, you will learn how to paint a vibrant, abstract wall mural through simple, step-by-step instructions.

You’ll learn what to look for in a quality wall, how to prep your space, and how simple brushstrokes can achieve a complex, layered aesthetic.

Hello! My name is Adam Palmeter and I am a self-taught artist who loves painting walls. I've always enjoyed the meditative repetitiveness of this painting style, so I hope you can also use this relaxing technique to sharpen your artistic talents.

Although large walls may seem daunting at first (they were for me), through simple techniques (and a lot of practice), you can learn how to create your own career as a professional artist.

I may not be able to paint landscapes or fine art, but what I can do is create dynamic wall murals with confident brushstrokes and vivid color palettes. If I can do it, so can you!

Mural painting is my favorite type of artwork and as a Skillshare teacher, it gives me great pleasure to teach this class so that artists of any level can learn the skills to paint a large, abstract mural just like I have taught myself to do.

In fact, for years I have made my way around the world painting these abstract murals on walls of all sizes without a formal art education.


Through linework techniques and simple instruction, you will be able to create one of these murals on a wall near you! 

You’ll learn about the types of paints that I use for these murals and why you don’t need to have expensive art supplies in order to create a large eye-catching mural. 

I'm constantly on the road painting murals everywhere so if you'd like to see where in the world I am painting, go ahead and check out my instagram page @adampalmeter

NO WALLS? NO PROBLEM! I keep exploring different artistic activities, like making it rain, bro....

Be sure ot check out my first Skillshare class on using NEON  HIGHLIGHTERS to create some really cool rainbow artwork.

Grab some highlighters and a piece of paper and take a shot at this really fun and colorful class suitable for any age! 

But abstract mural painting is the name of the game today so, join me for this unique and fun mural painting class! I had an absolute blast filming this so I hope you do as well and let's paint a mural!


To check out the 3 childrens books I've published teaching them about entrepreneurship click here!

Stop by my website for original artwork at www.adampalmeter.com

Or follow me on instagram @adampalmeter

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Adam Palmeter

Artist / Comedian / Teacher / Author

Top Teacher

My NEW stand up comedy album OLDER TEENAGER - Live from Playa del Carmen is available HERE !

Hello, I'm Adam. I am a visual artist, stand up comedian, author and Skillshare Top Teacher teacher living a little here, a little there, telling jokes and painting walls in as many places as possible. My professional background is in early childhood education and have over a decade of classroom experience in Brooklyn, Seoul, Ho Chi Minh City, Buffalo, and most recently, I have been teaching remote art lessons to high school students from wherever I am in the world. Education has always been my passion.

This is why I wrote and illustrateed the OPPORTUNI-TREE children's books, a series of educational books, lesson plans and activities that introduce young children to the wo... See full profile

Related Skills

Art & Illustration Painting
Level: All Levels

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1. Introduction: My name is Adam Palmeter and I am a professional muralist. In this class, I want to show you how to paint a mural just like this one, brushstroke by brushstroke. You're going to learn my best techniques for large brushstrokes, line-work, small brushstrokes, details, and everything in between. These last few years, I have been a nomadic artist making most of my money from painting walls, just like this all around the world. Consider this a crash course. You're going to learn years of my experience condensed into one short class. Not only am I going to show you how to paint walls like this, but we're going to be going over all the detail, all the ins and outs starting with supplies. Which paint is right for you? The types of brushes I recommend, how to prep a wall surface, how to fix holes and imperfections in the wall as you paint. How to think about color combinations and the beautiful accents that make your wall outstanding. Most importantly, how to get credit for your work. Don't forget to follow me on Skillshare and click that ''Follow'' button just up top. Let's get to work. 2. Supplies: All right guys, let's talk about some supplies. Today I'm going to be using very simple flat brush. This is a one-and-a-half-inch long brush. It's thin, it's got a sharp edge. This is not a chiseled tip, which I usually use, but this one is a nice, flat edge, cheap, easy, durable, always depend on it. For the second layer of paint, I will be using an inch wide chiseled tip brush. Now it's also thin, but I use the chiseled tip to help get these little petals and details at the end. But you're going to find out about that later. Let's talk paint. I don't like to spend money on paint. So using simple hardware store latex or water-based paint is simply fine. This color I'm using is a nice break, minty spearman green. It's going to look really good on our back wall here. This probably cost me a few bucks at your local hardware store. Now I can save money for all these fancy special effects. Now the consistency of this paint is not too watery, which is good. It drips, nice and slow. But yet not too watery, not too thick. I would actually rather use a paint that is more thick versus one that is a little more watery because that way I'm not going to get these drips coming down the wall that I don't want. This painting right here, perfect consistency. It drips perfect, it's got a little bit of elasticity to it. This is just looking nice. I want to put a straw in here. Don't drink paint. Also, any artist's best friend is going to be a rag or paper towels. Make sure you have them handy. Paint can get messy. The second color I'm going to be using is actually a metal color. I like to add these little metal gold flares to it. This is a different paint. This, you really can't find at too many hardware stores. What you're going to want to do is go to your local paint shop and look for metallic acrylics. Let me show you this. Crack that open. Oh, look at that. Nice and shiny and sparkly. Because I used a matte finish on my wall, this shiny acrylic textualized paint is going to be this really nice contrast when the whole mirror was finished. To recap all of our supplies, I'm going to be using a flat one-and-a-half-inch brush, a chiseled tip, one-inch brush. Hardware store water-based paint. Shiny gold acrylic paint. Paper towels. That's weird. A wall, and a good attitude. Let's get started. 3. Prepping the Wall: Let's talk about prepping your wall. All walls are different and this one used to be white about a day ago, until I gave it a black background. Now, this wall had dings in it. It's got a couple holes that we'll get to in a little bit, but it's overall really good. It's a piece of sheetrock, it's dry, it's smooth for the most part, and, really, it's everything I look for in a wall. Now, this wall's indoor, outdoor walls are different. They usually tend to have a little more sun, the weather is exposed to them, so these are all factors to think about in terms of how long these murals are going to last. But we're inside, usually the weather's controlled, the temperature is controlled, so this one should last a while. The materials I used to prep this wall, again, were just hardware store paint, a nice matte black finish paint. Not expensive. A roller, a paint tray, a stirring stick, and a paintbrush to get all the corners. It took about 20, 25 minutes to do it all. Not hard work and definitely worth it. Prep your walls. Why do I prep a wall? Because I like to start with a fresh canvas. If I'm going around little bits and pieces and things, it doesn't make me feel as confident in my work as it could be. In some places they already have paint provided for you. For example, this office already had this color tucked away in the back because they've used this before to paint other walls in their office. Now, this wall has a few holes in it and I'm going to show you how to fix those as we go along. 4. First Brushstrokes: Let's start with our first strokes. These are the most important strokes. In fact, if you don't get this first stroke right, you might as well shut off this video and take another class. Clearly, I'm kidding. This is about having fun and just exploring. My first strokes are large. So what I'm going to do is make a series of lines and a lot of sharp curves, but I'm going to be using my whole arm and not just my wrist. Let me show you my first stroke here. Let's see. Here we go. We're going to start up and around. Now, look at that. It's got this nice curve. Look how bright and beautiful that is. That really is delicious, isn't it? But it goes all the way across. It's really thick, it's broken up, and then a nice slice in. It's a nice straight line, but it really shows you the movement of the stroke here. So I start with these, a combination of that. Straight lines, a little wispy, a little tag at the end there. Now, what that does is it gives a bit of contrast from the top here, as you can see, it's really thick and juicy, and down here, it fades away. This is going to create that sense of depth that my murals are pretty much known for. So let's keep going at this. Now, we're going to go side to side. One, two, and we're done. Thanks. Just kidding. What we want to do here, take a notice of this, the space between the lines, that contrast is really going to start to what make this mirror look good. It fades out here at the end, but I'm still going to continue with the flat side of the brush for larger strokes. Now, let's go up. There we go. Again, I'm going to put one just next to it. You can see here the space between the lines here, pretty similar to the ones right up here. So it's pretty good for consistency, but again, have fun, play with different colors, play with different depths, play with different sizes between your lines. We have some lines going down to up, up and down, side to side. Let's throw in a little bit diagonals. You got here, one, two. Fix that one, there we go, and here and here. Now, this may not look as organic as the rest of my mirror will, but it's nice to have these straight, almost like a foundation, these straight lines into the mural, which really I can start to play off of as the mural develops. As you can see, this top part here is real juicy and might even drip a little bit. If it starts to drip a little bit, don't worry, I think it actually looks pretty cool, and you have a few drops coming through. But for this sake, you can even just do a second by touching right at the edge and gently tracing a line you did, that thins out the paint so it doesn't collect all at the bottom and cause large drips if you don't want them. As you can see, the paintbrush dries out towards the end of the stroke, which is really good because I like how it breaks it apart in an organically whisked away, it just disappear that only one hard stop at the front, so that both sides of each stroke or a contrast in itself. Now, let's keep making these large strokes across the entire mural. Now, down here at the bottom, as you can see, it's not a straight one. I liked just play around with corners and edges, curved lines with straight lines. It's my style. I know it may not look like a lot right now, but usually, I do a layer of larger strokes first, medium strokes, and then the details. So I'm going to fill this wall with a whole lot of similar strokes to begin. The point of this is to really set a backbone into your painting here. I have all this empty space which is going to get filled up soon, but I need to have some kind of structure to paint off of. Well, as you can see, I've written some kind of alien language poem all over this wall here, and although it may not look exactly like one of my murals now, it's on its way. I'd like to start with this foundation, a lot of thick lines like wispyness, a lot of angles. Just have fun and play. Sometimes what I like to do is to think about numbers and letters and actually starting to play with certain letters and just making them look a bit more abstract, a bit more organic, and again, have fun. As you can see, I've left a lot of gaps between everything, and those spaces are all going to get filled in with the next brush stroke I'm going to teach you. 5. Layering: So now that we have our alien space language, I mean primary strokes down, what we're going to do is I'm going to teach you two strokes which are the same thing, and this is how we fill in the entire mural. We're going to start with my palms, not palm leaves. You'll see, you'll see. So picking a larger area that's open, we're going to get some paint on our brush and I'm going to make a sweeping stroke much like this one right here, but I'm going to do several right next to each other. They're all going to end in the same place and they're going to have the same thickness or thinness at the end. But let me show you what I mean. There we go. As you can see, these are much thinner, all very close together, and they're all pretty similar. You're really just making the same stroke over and over again using the same pattern. This will help become muscle memory for you over time and you'll be able to do large and small ones. So again, starting from the right to the left, let's find another spot. How about right here? I'm going to follow this line right here and fill in this whole space with a palm like that. Now, as you can see here, it's the same. It's got these thick ends here. They all relatively look a little uniform and so does the end, and you can feel that swipe. Using the speed in the stroke really helps you do the same thing over and over again. Trust your hand. Now the opposite of that, the exact opposite is going to go from left to right. What you want to do is lean your brush almost a little more heavy to the left and the paint will collect on the left. That will make the initial touch to the wall a little more thick. Let's see. Now, we're going to go from left to right. You see how big this is here at the end versus how thin that is there? It's because I'm pushing the brush against the wall and we're almost at an angle to make it a bit more top heavy. I'll show you one more on the top here. Push the brush in more to the left. Swipe it right across. Now, go ahead and have fun going from left to right, right to left. I like to think about palm trees. I will have a very organic and abstract field of my artwork. Much like palm leaves, they're always straight with a little bit of a curve to it. Notice how it's straight, but adjust curves in just a little bit same thing with these strokes. All right. As you can see, using these large strokes, we're going to start to fill in these areas. Now, we also want to keep in mind to keep some small spaces open because I'm going to teach you how to do smallest strokes as I drip paint all over the floor. So for now, let's get to work on our medium palms all over our mural. As you can see, this one peters out, starts very long, swirls around and gets very small like one side of a palm leaf. Don't be afraid to overlap. In fact, the difference between a thickness of the paints will look pretty good if it's really thick over a spot that's pretty thin. Let me show you an example. The curvature of this circular part right here I feel like needs a little more flavor, so I'm going to cut right in. Check that out. The thicker paint overlaps the thinner paint and adds a lot more depth. So again, paying attention to how much you're pushing on one edge of the brush gives you different results. As I'm pushing hard on this and I whisk it away, I'm almost pushing the brush up like this, almost perpendicular to the wall. Why? Because a thin brush like this will give you a thin line right at the end, and it ends up being really sharp. So feel free to practice that. You'll get better over time and you just need to learn about having a more confident brushstroke and you'll get the results you want. Sometimes I like to give it a really almost full 180 curvature. It won't happen all the time, but it does look pretty sharp when it comes out. We're going to start here and all the brushstrokes you'll have almost the same central ending point starting from longest, getting to smallest. Let me show you. Now, I'm getting closer to the wall and you just turn your brush in to a central point. It's not perfect. But I think for an abstract feel, it really adds more depth and movement to the work. All right guys, hope you're getting a workout and getting these big strokes. Now, my wall is almost all the way filled. I've done all the large strokes from left to right, right to left, and now you see we still have all these little small spaces still open. Now, I'm going to teach you how to use the same brush and the same hand, hopefully, to do smaller strokes and now fill in all of these small spots. 6. Fine Tuning: All right, guys. Now that we've finished our largest strokes, let's get into the smaller ones. These are going to be the strokes that fill in all the small holes here. Now essentially, we're going to be doing the same brushstroke, but not from your arm, from your wrist. So let's see. I'm going to start with something very simple: top to bottom. Now using just the corner of the brush is what we're going to do. Instead of using the whole edge flat down and doing big strokes, use the corner and practice like this. For example, as you can see, again, much like the longer ones, they start a little more bold and thin out towards the end, and it follows really the same kind of pattern. This is just a smaller version of what we just finished. Grab your paintbrush, some on the corner, so let's do one on this side. Same thing. Now think about the directionality of these brushstrokes. These ones are coming this way, these ones are going that way, these ones are coming this way, they're all a little bit different, and it's going to be that diversity that really ties together the whole mural. Focus on this one. We've been going the same stroke like this, you can go backwards. Bottom to top, right here. You're not getting a lot of movement from the elbow, it's all coming from my wrist, almost flicking the paint in a way against the wall. Let's see from here, look how that starts to tie everything together. Let's see on this side, you could even start down here. This is where you can start to overlap a little bit more and really start to get some cool contrast. Now go over your whole mural, find the largest spots that are still open, and let's go ahead and fill those in with their small wrist strokes. So now we've finished up all of our smaller palms, and now I'm going to teach you how to fill in all these little holes here really well. 7. Filling the Gaps: We're almost done, now we have to fill in all these teeny-tiny little spots. Now, I don't really use the same brushstroke. In a way I do, but I only do a few of these petals. What you want to do, finding these small areas here, you can fill in with just a few singular, thicker strokes. I think this really makes it more of a floral pattern. Go ahead and play with the directions. For instance, here, one, two, that fits pretty well. You don't want to do too much, but you also don't want to do too little. Lives of balancing act. Again, feel free to play with the directionality of it. If everything is going every which way, it really gives a sense of uniformity to your abstract mural. I'm using just the corner of the brush at this point. I'm loading up paint just on the corner, so it's nice and thick. Some of these might drip down a bit, but that's cool. I like the drips. As you can see, it's a bit thicker on top, and that actually gives way more depth versus just the black. For instance, right here, we have black background and then almost a faded softer teal, and then a stronger teal on top of that. That really gives a sense of layers. For here, don't be afraid to overlap. I'm not afraid of overlapping, but I am afraid of dogs. As we go through here, you're going to fill in these little spots. But check it out, I'm still paying attention to the spacing. I don't want to do too close or too far away. You really want to step back every once in a while, take it all in and see how it looks. Things I like to look for is does it feel continuous? Does it feel all tied together? Are there some places that need more smaller, some places that need bigger? You decide. I see one here, bam, bam, going that way. Up here. We got a space just for a nice one right there. Look how I'm adding the thicker petals to where the paints are already thin. You can already see the contrast right there, but it's a very different contrast. Then the teal on the black. Still adding some depth. Bam, bam, bam. We're looking for holes here, and just like a good dentist, I'm going to fill the gaps. We started with our large primary strokes and moved on to the medium pawns, and then even the smaller pawns, and now we filled in the single petals just about everywhere. If your mural looks like this, congratulations. If it doesn't, you need to work harder. Just kidding, I hope you had some fun. But now we're going to move into the final section of adding gold. 8. Metallic Accents: Now it's time for our final part where we start at a yes, you asked for beautiful gold. Now, this gold will run you about $4-500 US. Just kidding. This one costs about $4. Now, the reason why I love to use gold is because it is delicious and it is a sign of wealth. But also, we've already used a matte black background. This green is also pretty matte. The gold really shimmers and shines. Why do I do this? Because as someone walks by my mural, the light will reflect off the gold, and as they walk by, different pieces of gold will start to reflect the light. So it becomes an interactive art piece, and you can use that. This is free. You're welcome. Don't tell Skillshare. We are going to be using a smaller chisel tip brush. What is a chisel tip brush? It's a brush with a chisel tip. What does that mean? It means it is not flat, it is angled. I like to use the very tip of the chisel brush. We're not doing the large strokes here, we're not doing the several lines all next to each other. We're going to be trying to doing one or two, maybe three individual petals grouped together around here with similar spacing. Let me show you. Much like our last layer where we would just do one stroke here, I'm going to try to follow that. Maybe one, maybe two. Let's find a place on here, I think this is a good one, one, two. It looks a little thin, but I promise you the reflection from the light is really going to make that pop out as I walk by, oh my God, that's how good it is. But I like to space these out roughly around 6-10 inches depending on where I put these. These ones went that way, here's another one that way. Up like that, one, two, one. This grouping is the spacing that I like to use. It's not too much, it's not too little, but a really will tie everything together nicely. Again, because of the contrast and texture and shine, matte versus glossy, there you go, that's the word, I love words. You're really going to start to see some cool depth here amongst the textures and not just the individual paints. I usually only do groupings of the gold between 1, 2 or 3. I don't have any rhyme or reason for it. If it feels right, if it looks right, it's right. Why argue? Again, you've got some groupings here. I'll set a single one, and then how about over here? Here we go. Going up top, I'm going to get three right there, and I'm going to put three right here. Why? Because it's my mirror. I love this color combination. It reminds me of dragons in a way. But this gold really brings a bit of warmth to the whole mural. Everything is black or as it's cool to you. I think the contrast of the gold, especially metallic colors just work really well with mac colors. Explore with rose and gold, or silver, or copper, champagnes are really sweet one, but yeah, go to your local art store, see what they have in terms of metallic acrylics. You'll be surprised. You can even find regular colors with metallics mixed into it. You can take a classic red or purple or blue, and you can find mixtures already nice and sparkly. Looking like that. Personally, I just love mixing gold. One thing I love about this color combination is when I add the gold, it's metallic and it almost stands off of the wall. It's such a contrast to what's before that. It really gives you a sense of these layer's depth. I like to think of channels like leaves falling off a tree, a magical golden tree, we all grew up with those. But yeah, it makes it feels like something is falling out that it's actually not against something not attached to anything, and non-attachment is really the lesson here. As you can see, the nice and balanced composition, everything is spaced out the way we discussed it would be and it's looking pretty sharp. But we're not quite done yet. I'm going to teach you some tricks and tips and how to cover a small hole in your wall, just like the ones I have. 9. Patching Holes: As you can see in our wall, we have a little hole here. Now, this was made from a screw that used to hold a painting that was in its place before. I want to show you a quick trick on how I like to get rid of holes. If you don't have speckle or anything to fix your hole professionally before you do a coat, let me show you what you can do. It is really technical and a bit advanced. I'm sorry if you don't have this at home, but we need something called masking tape. What I'm going to do is like a little cheat sheet here. I rip off a bit of this masking tape just enough to cover the hole. Let's see. We got a piece about this big or so. You want it really just to cover the hole. Let's see. Here we go. Perfect. Now using your paint, you can actually just paint on top of the tape to keep it there. I'm going to try to get a little bit of the gold. See if you run your brush along the inside here, the gold is a bit more thick than it would be in the bottom. I'm going to use a thick piece of gold here and just cover it like so. Is it perfect? No. But it's camouflaged. There we go. I didn't see nothing, you didn't see nothing. Fixing something this easy makes you say, "Holy moly." Now it's time to add a final touch, the most important touch. Not human touch, your signature. 10. Your Signature: Now that we've finished we're going to the most important part of the mural, you. You want to let people know who made this mural. It's very important to put your name on it. I sign my name because it's also my Instagram handle. It makes it really easy for people to just throw my name in Instagram and that's how you get followers. Because this is a black wall, I'm going to use this acrylic white paint and actually a smaller chiseled tip brush. This is about three-eighths of an inch, same chiseled-tip as we use for the gold. Let me show you how I sign my name. Now that we've got our brush and paint, we're going to sign our name. You want to pick a paint that's going to help stand out from your mural. As you can see, we have titular, and gold, and black. I'm actually going to use white because it'll help my name pop off the wall. What's really important here, you. Because my name is also my Instagram handle, I'm going to start with an "at" sign. Now I sign my name in the same similar way that I paint these murals. Start with my a, starting strong and it comes off. As you can see, it's a lot of the same strokes as we just did in our mural. Make sure is nice and legible. In fact, it might be worth it to start practicing how to sign your name. Because personally for me, this was the hardest and worst part about any mural I painted. I always hated painting my name, but with practice, I've gotten worse, just kidding. Let's make sure to spell your own name correctly because boy, is it embarrassing when you don't? I've done that before. Not for nothing, it will really help me never do that again. Lesson learned. Sometimes I like to add a little bit of flair to my name just so it blends with the mural and people can really see who did it. That's my name and I spelled it correctly. All right guys, who've done our signature, we've done our mural, now let's have a few final thoughts. 11. Final Thoughts: First off, thank you so much for taking this class. I had a lot of fun painting and I hope you did too. Don't forget to follow me on Skillshare by clicking that "Follow" button up above. That way, you'll be the first to know as soon as I launch my next class. You can also follow me on Instagram @AdamPalmeter. That way, you can see what I'm painting and where I am in the world. Right now I'm in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. That's why I'm wearing my retirement shirt. It's my hope by taking this class, you can not only paint big abstract murals like this, but find walls of your own inside, outside, businesses, homes, anywhere in the world. I want to see though, this class project it maybe a little more in-depth. I don't just want to see your paintings, I want to hear how you got a wall. Upload your photos to social media and the class project gallery. That way, we can all see your work, comment, and engage with you, the artist. If you enjoy this class, feel free to check out my other classes on Skillshare, especially the highlighter class. It's a mini version of this one, but you can do with things you find just around the house. As always, I love to hear from you. So if you had any questions, please feel free to ask them in the discussion thread, and I'll get right back at you. If you like my art work and you appreciate me not having bags under my eyes, please leave a review. See you guys next time. It's Adam Palmeter. Peace, over and out.