OUTDOOR BEAUTY: Meet a Mural Painter Who Makes Buildings Better

Have you ever noticed how outdoor art can make a neighbourhood so much better? This article is about a remarkable outdoor artist who is making great things happen on building exteriors in southern Ontario, Canada.

Tim Nijenhuis (ninehouseproductions.com) began painting outdoor murals in 1997, soon after emigrating to Canada from the Netherlands and he’s still at it.  “After being commissioned to do a major mural in the north end of Hamilton, Ontario, my mural business really snowballed”, explains Tim. “I’ve done more than twenty exterior murals over the last four years. I also build and paint film sets, and I did all the interior set building and scenic painting for CityKidz – a non-profit kids’ theatre. I’ve restored an historic theatre in Hamilton called The Playhouse, and I’m working on a major facelift of a martial arts building here in town. Right now I’ve got two full-time employees and a sales rep.” 

“Most ideas for artwork come from interviews with potential clients”, Tim says. “Sometimes they have existing images that I incorporate in my design, but most often I have complete freedom to come up with my own design.” “For outdoor murals, prep work is super important. I power wash walls, remove flaking paint, then fix mortar before priming. I use PPG Seal Grip to prime brick and PPG Sun Proof paint for the actual mural. It’s important to use the most vivid pigments, yet have paint that covers in one shot. Multiple coats don’t work for art.”

“Perspective and 3D illusions are key in my murals, so I determine where the horizon line and vanishing points should go based on the average viewers’ point of view. I usually put a screw in the wall and use a wire to help me get the desired effect. The design is always made with the proportions of the wall in mind, and I try to use the entire building as much as possible.”

Tim and his team paint mural projects across southern Ontario each summer. One season included the painting of the entire side of a 13 storey apartment building. You can see examples of Tim’s work below. Have you ever seen outdoor murals nicer than these?