Mural Painting & RestorationConrad Schmitt Studios has designed, created, conserved, replicated and restored large murals projects and paintings for more than 120 years.
Murals play a unique role in society by visually capturing a moment in time. Whether the subject matter is truth or fiction, past or present, even the choice of theme and the way it is portrayed are combined to illustrate what mattered to the artist or the community when it was created. Murals serve as a visual history on a grand scale.
The Studios’ experience, creativity and good judgment are reflected in murals executed in a variety of media. In addition to understanding the strictly technical aspects of the craft, Studio artisans possess the sensitivity necessary to create fine works of art through mural painting and restoration.
Fine Art Wall Mural Restoration
The Studios’ early involvement with murals was primarily in the realm of frescoes, which are painted directly onto the wall. Conrad Schmitt was a leader in the early twentieth century revival of the ancient al secco fresco type of mural painting.
Accordingly, the early Studio created many murals in al secco fresco. The technique calls for painting onto specially prepared dry plaster rather than onto the wet plaster of buon secco. Today, many types of painted murals are created or restored by Conrad Schmitt Studios, including oil, gesso, acrylic, tempera, encaustic (hot wax) and Keim. Some are applied directly to walls and others to canvas that is affixed to walls. The most popular choice for murals today is oil painting on canvas.
Murals created or conserved by Conrad Schmitt Studios grace churches, theatres and public buildings throughout the United States.
Murals have adorned walls and enhanced the architecture of public spaces for more than a thousand years. All over the world, artists’ decoration and imagery has added beauty and inspiration to people’s everyday lives through murals.
The historic, yet progressive Conrad Schmitt Studios is proud to be a part of this long tradition of enriching public and private environments. Beautiful, thoughtful, inspiring murals created by Studio artists can be found at state capitols, courthouses, churches, theatres, hotels and private residences throughout the country.
Each mural project is guided by communication with the client. For new murals, research is conducted, using the Studio’s extensive archives and collections with pieces dating to the 15th century. Conceptual sketches are developed, based on the selected theme and existing style of the architecture. These sketches are presented to the client, and design development follows. Elegant watercolor or airbrushed renderings are then produced in detail, and design modifications are made via computer as necessary.
From the rendering approved by the client, a full-size drawing or “cartoon” is created to represent the vision for the mural. This frequently is placed in situ for scale and compositional review. After any adjustments are made to the cartoon, creation of the mural proceeds.
Historic Mural Restoration/Conservation
In addition to new designs, the Studio also conserves, restores and replicates aged and damaged murals. For conservation, methods are used that preserve the original artists’ work, while allowing its full beauty to be restored.
Creation and conservation can be conducted in a variety of media to match what is existing or desired. In some cases, murals that have been painted over can be uncovered, conserved and restored.
Mural painting and restoration requires both technical expertise and artistic sensitivity. Every project is unique, due to numerous factors, including a building’s history, the wishes of the client, and the budget. With careful study, dialog and consideration, the best approach is determined. Conrad Schmitt Studios does not take a blanket approach.
After considering each unique project primarily in the context of itself and its purpose, the actual work follows a basic pattern. The process for each begins with a visual inspection, as well as written and photographic documentation of the existing conditions and materials used. All existing deterioration and material failures are identified.
Microscopic examination and materials analyses assist in identifying the best solution. A treatment plan is developed to clean the artwork and stabilize all that is original. Stabilization may include injecting a material, such as epoxy, beneath the artwork to secure it. Following this, a conservation varnish is painted over the original artwork to preserve it and separate it from any “infill” painting that follows in areas of paint loss.
One of the notable aspects of conservation work is that it is completely reversible. With this in mind, Conrad Schmitt Studios follows the philosophy that through there is a science involved, and a sequence to adhere to, our team of mural restorers must have an adequate comprehension of the artistic nature of the work in order to engage in greater artistic creativity.
We believe that an open mind should be kept to new materials and methods which might prove successful in the conservation process during restoration of old paintings. Conrad Schmitt Studios has been privileged to conserve historic masterpieces by artists such as John Severinus Conway, Luigi Gregori, David Swing, Marcel Vertes, Lionel Walden and Gregorio Lazzarini.
Conrad Schmitt Studios has conserved and restored hundreds of different types of murals across the country, ranging from acrylics; Buon Fresco; Encaustic or hot wax painting; Gesso or tempera both on walls and canvas; murals executed by way of the Keim process; murals executed in golf leaf, mosaics, oil, water glazes, aluminum leaf, sgraffito, stucco, white lead, porcelain, and cloisonné; and stained and iron oxide murals executed and fired into stained glass.
“I cannot begin to adequately express my appreciation. The restoration of the right side of the mural and recreation of the missing left half, working entirely from photographs, is artistically so well done that one cannot determine which is the recreation.”
— Mary L. Bishop Hawaii Theater Center