Jennifer and Donald Kaumps’ historic north Seattle house seemed to have it all.
Charming, spacious and well-maintained, the 1914 home they bought last summer was surrounded by a pristine garden and landscaping. It even had a peek-a-boo view of the water.
“This house captures every decade,” Jennifer said of its overlapping styles. “We love that about it.”
But the Kaumps felt something was missing: their own history.
To give their home that personal touch, they decided to have a mural painted.
Researching local artists for the job, they came across Edmonds-based artist Andy Eccleshall. His work with murals and on canvas proved a grasp of a wide range of forms and scenes. They contacted Eccleshall and started brainstorming together, as a team.
In the beginning, the couple were worlds apart in their ideas.
“I wanted it to be something Pacific Northwest, but my husband wanted a jungle,” Jennifer said.
Though the scenes seemed irreconcilable, Eccleshall drew up designs and matched colors, and soon pitched them a draft that they loved. After he got to work, the paint was drying within a week.
Today their dining room is enveloped by jade-green trees, illuminated by an amber sunset.
Clouds hang from the ceiling. Wild branches flow throughout the room, gently curving around an antique fireplace and French doors.
“We get lots of compliments,” Jennifer said. “People love to be in here. It’s so warm and cozy. It feels magical.”
The Kaumps were added to a long list of Eccleshall’s satisfied clients throughout the country. Businesses are increasingly interested in giving their venues a personal touch.
“In the past, it was a split between 90-percent residential, 10-percent commercial. This year, it’s more like 60-percent residential, 40-percent commercial.”
Nearby commercial murals include one at Bothell’s McMenamins, the lobby of Edmonds Theater and several other buildings downtown. The City of Shoreline commissioned a mural of Echo Lake on Ballinger Way in 2013.
Eccleshall’s diverse portfolio showcases his willingness to honor that every homeowner and business is unique.
“What I do is make sure that the mural has meaning to them,” said Eccleshall.
Some prefer local landscapes, like a majestic portrait of Mount Rainier or a ferry gliding across the Sound. But his repertoire also includes city skylines, foreign landscapes, lush gardens, underwater sea turtles and windows to other worlds.
“This is the client’s home, so it’s what they like to see,” said Eccleshall.
The possibilities go on as far as your imagination can reach. And if you don’t have one, he’s got plenty to tap into.
“It can start with a time, or place, or even an idea,” he said.
One of Eccleshall’s favorite painting styles is “trompe l’oiel,” the French term translates to “fool the eye.”
These murals are meant to be so lifelike that they can be mistaken for an extension of the home. Examples include wine cellars, a cozy fireplace or a window overlooking a garden.
”It gives you that real sense of illusion, that there’s actually something there,” Eccleshall explained.
The biggest compliment is if somebody walks by and doesn’t notice that it isn’t real, he said. It’s a challenge, but a fun one.
“It’s always a constant series of adjustments,” Eccleshall said. “All of it is. I say painting is a lot like sculpture. You start off with an enormous blob, and you chip away at it.”
That description doesn’t give justice to Eccleshall’s finished results: elegant, colorful and rich in texture.
Eccleshall, 48, is originally from England. He moved to Seattle in 2000 with his wife, Ingrid, an occupational therapist. Her craft comes in handy after long days painting ceilings.
“That’s hard on the neck,” said Eccleshall.
The couple live in Edmonds with their 16-year-old son, Jack, who will be helping him complete a few larger projects this summer. “Although, I think he’d rather be playing X-Box,” admitted Eccleshall. When he was around that same age, Eccleshall was settling into his professional painting career. Aside from a short-lived gig as a bus driver, he’s always been an artist.
“It’s all I’ve ever done,” he said.
He attended art school in England, majoring in illustration.
“The year after I graduated was the year that they brought in all of the computers. The day I graduated, I was obsolete,” joked Eccleshall.
But he traces his skill and patience as an artist back to his training.
“I had an illustration teacher, who always wore black and carried a stick. You’d be drawing away, you’re feeling pretty proud of yourself … and whack! She’d hit you right in the back of the head. Your charcoal would go flying.”
That wealth of concentrated practice explains his steady hand. Eccleshall never traces out any designs before getting to work on a mural.
“I just want to dive straight in,” he said.
And he’s not afraid to dive in anywhere.
“I work in 1950s ramblers, and I work in construction places,” he said. “Every mural has its own challenges and its own requirements, but you always want it to feel like it’s part of the setting.”
A mural can add warmth and character to any home, at every price point.
“Prices are based on time. I figure out how long it’s going to take and I set a price based on that. If it takes me longer, that’s my problem,” he explained. “Designs are approved before I start, and everyone just relaxes. I just turn up.”
Depending on the size, he can complete a mural in a few days. A typical work day is 10 hours. It sounds grueling, but it’s anything but.
“It certainly doesn’t feel like that. It flies by,” Eccleshall said. “It’s like therapy.”
Eccleshall also does paintings and commissioned portraits. His work is featured in magazines, galleries and on studio tours. He conducts painting workshops at the Cole Gallery.
Eccleshall’s mural gallery and fine art can be viewed at www.themuralworks.com or on Facebook at The Mural Works, Inc.