• Mary Lou Hurley

Creating a Staycation Destination: Part 1


#1: MaryLou's progress shots; #2: her favourite spot; #3: her husband Joe painting the sky

I miss the beach! In the past, my husband Joe and I have been fortunate enough to travel to warm, sunny, sandy destinations during the depths of our Canadian winters. The ever-evolving hold this pandemic has on our lifestyle made me pause and think of how we could capture some of the holiday feelings while responsibly staying at home. I had a spare room that needed painting, some time on my hands and nowhere to go.


So I decided to give us a Caribbean atmosphere we could "travel to" and relive our many past trips. Wasn’t everything being done virtually this COVID 2020 year? Yes, I knew it would take some time and effort but I thought it would give us a therapeutic vacation fix…and so the project got started.


After purchasing more than a few shades of blue, I started by taping an ocean horizon line on three walls. The fourth wall was to be land; I didn’t want to feel like I was in the middle of the ocean! Joe thankfully is always a willing accomplice to my artistic vision; he applied the main wall paint with a roller. Turns out, we picked a perfect sky blue! We used a lighter blue that we conveniently found in the basement. This was also used below the horizon as one of the first base coats for the ocean.


I happily admit to some artistic abilities as a mixed media mosaic artist, but I am not a ‘painter’. Still, I studied the look of the ocean in old photos for depth and colour and just jumped in! Before I knew it, wave patterns developed and a churning ocean. Hmmm…so much for a calm sea! My ocean swelled and stirred with each layer of paint.

Then I realized I had to commit to the direction of the tide. And much more: how do I create flow across 3 walls? Flowing onto a sandy beach or not? I hadn’t planned on a beach. Do I have the right colour for sand? Having seen some beautiful ocean and beaches, I had an idea of what I wanted. Yet painting it I found, was a challenge and a getaway in itself. I had to keep reminding myself that this was MY vision. That was about when I began to get generous with the emerald green and bright aqua blues.


There were many hours and days of what was ostensibly just good old-fashioned ‘trial and error’. I had to constantly remind myself to paint all three walls at each stage, for a look of continuity. I happily discovered that acrylic paint is forgiving in so far as it can be layered and mixed and watered down until you get the look you want. I'm sure a little patience and no deadline helped too! Finally, I was satisfied with my ocean and its curling waves crashing into one corner of the room before gradually rolling onto the beach. I especially loved finishing the crown of the waves with bright white sea foam. Oh, and of course I envisioned that it was a beautiful day! On to the sky...