6 Questions for Residential Mural Painter Nathaniel Galka

Marshlands, a 12-by-9-foot mural for a home office.Mount Kisco/Bedford–based artist Nathaniel Galka, a graduate of Columbus (Ohio) College of Art and Design who also has a masters in fine arts from Northwestern University, is a storyteller using pens and paint to mediate his natural subjects and internal processes. Galka works in small- and large-scale formats; and his murals are painted on canvas, which enables them to be a permanent part of any personal collection. Sophisticated homeowners looking to add color to their walls find that murals offer a unique solution that’s just one step away from wallpaper. CTC&G recently caught up with Galka to learn more about his work.

When did you first realize you wanted to create? I really never had a choice. I come from a family of artists. I started painting at age three or four. My grandfather was a photographer and my mother, a sculptor. I never saw myself doing anything else. They were very encouraging and saw it was the only thing I liked to do and that I was always honing my talent and craft.

What’s the process of creating a mural for someone’s home? I usually start with helping the client find imagery of what they like on social media platforms like Pinterest or Instagram. Most clients know they want a mural but don’t know the direction they would like to go, so this is where I come in. I can filter their ideas to a very clear concise image. True art is not about the artist’s projection, but about the viewer’s perception. I typically will create two sketches for the client based on these searches.

Whisper Here... a 12-by-12-inch oil on steel with resin coat surface.What do you think a mural brings to a room? Personality and individualism. Living with a painting or piece of art creates an environment that is unique and no one else’s.

Where—what rooms or spaces—do people most frequently want one? Foyers, dining rooms, powder rooms, and children’s rooms and nurseries. I prefer to work in an interior that has already been designed, so there’s no wasted effort in creating things such as birds or detail when a huge china cabinet is going to be eventually put in front of it.

What is the most typical subject matter requested? A landscape of some sort. Most of my murals are based on nature, so I typically include the nature outside the room’s window into the mural. I prefer to create Audubon-inspired landscapes; something that feels very 19th century or early 20th century and has classic elegance to it.

What or who inspires your work? Most of the time, the client or the interior designer inspires the mural. My art is about blurring the lines between reality and fantasy—a twilight moment in one’s mind. I allow the viewer his or her own dialogue with the piece in concept and meaning. As far as personal inspiration, I am still inspired by fine art painting—trips to the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the Frick Collection influence my art.

Does creating a mural fill your creative soul in the same way as a painting? It is different. Both fulfill a creative need, but a mural is commissioned work and, therefore, I create primarily for a client’s pleasure. When I paint for myself or for a gallery, I paint what it is I want to paint, so in reality, painting for myself gives me greater fulfillment.

A version of this article appeared in the February 2017 issue of CTC&G (Connecticut Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: IF Walls Could Talk.