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Before and After: A Group of Friends Turn a Rental Wall Into a “Monet Meets Pollock” Work of Art

published Mar 23, 2023
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Living room with white walls , furniture, musical instruments before a painting project begins.
Credit: Ethan Abramson

As a renter, I’ve always been afraid of painting the walls. I love getting my security deposit back, and the idea of having to repaint before I move out seems unnecessarily stressful. So when my friend Ethan Abramson reached out to say that his building manager approved of him painting an accent wall, I thought, “Amazing, a fun group project that won’t affect my deposit!”

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Credit: Ethan Abramson

My friends and I are all writers and indie filmmakers who are used to taking on low-budget projects and adopting an all-hands-on-deck mentality to bring our visions to life. So we had a lot of ideas every time Ethan would send us pictures of new paint samples, demanding to see them at different times of day so we could “get a full picture.”

Credit: Ethan Abramson

Finally, the color was picked. The date was set. Ethan purchased brushes, trays, canvas, and tape. We were ready to go, when suddenly, Ethan sent us all another message. This time, it was a painting he made with his little cousin. “Scratch everything,” he said. “I want to turn the wall into a mural based on this painting.” It was abstract, with thick brush strokes as a base layer and small splatters of paint on top. 

Credit: Ethan Abramson

After a decade of friendship, I was very confident that none of us knew how to paint a mural. And I was even more confident that none of us were going to admit that to one another. 

I headed to Ethan’s place on a Friday night. He set up lights, a drop canvas, and paint trays. We made cocktails and put on jazz. And rather than saying out loud that we were clueless, we started analyzing a painting he made with a child and sharing comments like, “I think it needs to start Monet-esque. From there, we can take a Pollock approach with the splatter.” Needless to say, I’m so glad I took two art history classes in college.

Credit: Ethan Abramson

We started by painting the base layer in thick brush strokes of blues and greens. When our friend Chris Tse came over, we switched from jazz to pop music, and things started to go wrong. The wall went from Monet to a mess in an instant. We were worried we’d have to abandon the whole thing and mask it all with a single color. So we did the only thing we knew how to do in this situation, or any situation for that matter: We put on more jazz. We started to blend the mess into the base, and it worked! 

Credit: Ethan Abramson

We let the base layer dry overnight, and the next day, we splattered. Did we originally envision this as the scene from the film “The Princess Diaries” where Anne Hathaway’s character and her mom throw darts at paint-filled-balloons? Yes. Did we immediately realize we had no plan to turn that into a reality? Also, yes. 

After we splattered the last of the paint, we took a step back and assessed. Ethan loved it. It gave the room so much more life than a solid color. Our biggest takeaway was learning that with paint, a vision is worth the risk. Any mistake we made could be blended into the overall finish, and we always knew that we could paint over everything if the entire project went wrong.

Give yourself that safety net to fall back on, and if you’re not sure how to bring your DIY to life, do what we did: Fake it ‘til you make it!