Sheryl Cathers talks about her murals big and small

When painting in oils, I use more of an impressionistic style. I prefer to paint in plein air, painting outdoors, looking directly at the subject and paying specific attention to the effects of light on the subject and landscapes. The paintings are more spontaneous. I am trying to capture a feeling of a moment on the canvas. I am less interested in details. These paintings can be used as studies for a larger studio painting later on, but often stand on their own, typically taking about 3 to 4 hours on site.
When I paint a mural the approach is much different. Once I have the theme, I work and rework a design that will fit the space appropriately. I have to take into account the size, the surface (smooth or rough), any structures on the wall or flaws in the surface, such as power boxes, large cracks, etc.  I also have to look at the surrounding area. Once the design is ready, I paint out a scale mock up to fit the space and also to work out colors. I use a grid method, where the surface is turned into a square grid. I scale the grid to fit the wall and then duplicate the grid much larger on the wall in chalk. This allows me to draw the design directly on the wall. I free-hand the shapes using the grid as a sort of map. I work out all the basic parts of the design, and then begin painting. Most of my murals are more detailed. This way the painting is clear from a distance, but when viewed up close, many of the finer details are clear. – SC.