The Den

I was contacted by Jane Boyle, owner of the Manor West Hotel, Tralee asking if I would be able to design and paint a mural for a new children’s play area that she was creating for the hotel.

Jane didn’t want your typical “Disney” playrooms, she wanted something original and unique.  She had seen and liked my calligraphy works and wanted me to design something of similar a style, but of course it couldn’t be scary in anyway.

So, I decided to go with the black white flowing linework, but I removed the brushstroke elements as I thought they might be too harsh for the design.

I wanted to create something with an Irish flare to it as the Manor West Hotel is an Irish hotel.   So I took elements from celtic designs: swirling spirals and triscles and lines that entangle into one another…  



I designed the mural to have an illustrated storybook feel to it and used animals to do this. Animals have been a huge part of children’s stories for years: Peter Rabbit, Winnie the Pooh and even today we have Zootopia.  There’s an appeal that small cute animals have that is irrisitable to most young children.

I felt it would be nice to tie in local Irish animals into the celtic style to add to the overall Irish theme.  It would feel wrong to use giraffes and zebras! (Although that could look cool…hmmm.)

I also used small animals, animals no larger than any child itself, so as not to have the kids feel scared by any of them.

In my initial sketch, the fox looked to scary as its features were a lot sharper than the other animals.  By rounding off the ears and making its limbs more circular in shape I managed to soften the foxes appearance.  Also by widening the eyes and giving them “eyelashes”, suddenly the fox seemd far less threatening.







Getting Started



Getting Started

Getting Started!

After sketching up all of the animals and the initial composition image, I transfered them all onto my computer where I digitally rendered them and recomposed them into the final image which I used for the mural.

I sent Jane on a few different images of the final design in different colour pallets. We had considered a darker colour for the the background with the linework being done in a lighter colour.  However, the dark background made the room feel too small and, well, dark.  In the end we went with the classic black & white. It helped the room to breath and it felt fresh.

Once Jane was happy with the final design, I started sketching up the design onto the wall in pencil and soon after started painting. 

Jane had selected a lovely grey which we used.  The grey was a lot softer on the eyes than the black and brought the whole room together, complimenting the other pastel tones used throughout the rest of The Den’s design.



So far The Den, has been extremely sucessful and many parents have contacted me since, letting me know how much they adore the space and have asked me to design murals for their own children’s playrooms.

Best of all Jane has been able to use the new space as a promotional piece for the hotel itself.

The unique mural stands out really well in promotional photos giving them a focus.  The mural is bold and very striking when used in photos, however, when you’re in the room itself it manages not to feel dominating in any way.

I was absolutely delighted to have created this mural for Jane who was an absolute pleasure to work with.

I wish her all the best in the future.