By Emily Harrington
If you are a parent in Champaign-Urbana, you’ve likely been to a place that features his art. It’s big, it’s colorful, it’s happy and it’s hard to miss.
His work in popular kid spots, local hospitals and schools displays fantasy lands on a large scale. Animals, books, butterflies, bright skies, green grass, happy trees, hot air balloons and flowers often adorn his paintings. If you keep looking—you keep finding new details. Take a moment and dive into the painting. You may discover a mouse with a picnic basket, a heart carved into a tree or a spider in a delicate web—little moments you may have missed at first glance. His style is obvious and identifiable: colorful, bold, happy and youthful. His style isn’t surprising when you learn he started his career traveling with circuses and carnivals while painting rides and funhouses!
It’s easy to see that his subject matter echoes his own theme preferences: rainforests, undersea scenes, castles and dragon and imaginary landscapes.
“Children’s murals free me to explore my inner child. I like to make murals that explore fantasy worlds and provide children with safe havens for their imaginations,” Davies said.
For inspiration Davies usually goes to the prospective mural site and imagines what would look good on the wall. He, of course, takes into account who will see it most often and where the mural is located.
“I sometimes go to the children’s department of the local library to look up themes, characters and images that I may wish to work from,” Davies said.
Much of Davies work features an artistic technique called “trompe l’oeil.” This French term means to “deceive the eye.” Many of these types of murals involve images so realistic, they create the optical illusion that the depictions are 3-D. Check out some of his trompe l’oeil work in Urbana behind Main Street, on the east side of the Habitat for Humanity building on University Avenue and in the south lobby of the Illini Union. In Champaign, visit Ikenberry Commons on campus and The City Building.
Typically, Davies sketches out a rough drawing then outlines the mural on the wall. If he needs to be more precise, he will measure from the drawing and translate inches into feet to create a scale mural. And we aren’t talking tiny spaces here that can be captured in a picture frame. Davies work can span the sides of buildings and entire walls.
“The time spent working on an average interior mural depends on the size of the wall and the degree of detail required to finish it. If the client isn’t too concerned about time, I can usually finish a children’s mural in 4-5 days. If I am in a hurry or the client is working with a timetable, I could probably get something finished in 3 days,” Davies said.
Lucky for us, this provides time to watch Davies at work and see the progress. Davies said parents often engage the children and ask them to describe what they see.
“It is wonderful to see the reactions—young and old,” Davies said.
If you are interested in commissioning one heck of a playroom or nursery, Urbana-based Davies can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Emily Harrington is a Chambana townie that left her 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. job to be a 24/7 mom to a dreamy son. Still interested in writing, Emily uses some of naptime to practice her passion and keep her mind right. Emily is a happy wife with a happy life because she fell for a fellow townie. Oh, and let’s not forget her other son, a degenerate canine named Heppenheimer.