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Oversized art – Xana Denruyter's paint by a thousand litres

02 Dec 2021

Xana Denruyter uses paint by the truckload - but then her creations do span whole city streets. The Belgian-born mural artist has turned her designing talents into a fulltime career.

“There is nothing more beautiful than seeing your work come to life and the paint is probably one major factor playing in that,” she says.

She lives in Brisbane where she specialises in large-scale mural work. Resene is Xana’s choice of paint, and she says the colour palette is so huge she never specifies a specific colour – the possibilities are limitless.

“Resene’s colour palette is immense and it’s almost impossible to not find the colour you originally wanted to work with. I don’t design anything to a specific colour, because I don’t have to be worried about it not being in the range or finding a very similar one.”

Xana studied art as teenager in Belgium and moved to Australia in 2016. It was through working with her artist partner, Sam Leans, that she developed her talents into a full-time job. 

“Sam got more work and bigger work and I became his helping hand. It taught me a lot about the industry, how to even begin planning such large-scale projects and most importantly how to show yourself in your work.”  Collaboration turned into commissions of her own, though they still work together depending on the project. “The past five years it has been my full-time job. Honestly I still can’t believe it .”

The intense colours of the Australian landscape are reflected in her work, and they are a world away from Europe. “I grew up in a concrete jungle so when I moved to Samford Valley, I was amazed by all of the new fauna and flora that I had never seen before. It sunk in automatically and translated into my designs. When something feels natural, you definitely know you need to keep working in that direction and that is what I did, “ she says.

n a single mural Xana will use dozens of colours. Essentially Australian ochres and oranges are some of her favourite colours, such as yellow ochre Resene Apache or an orange like Resene Moroccan Spice. “I love warm and earthy tones,” she says.

She sketches her designs using a digital illustration app, Procreate, that allows her to project the work onto the final canvas which is often a building or a wall.

“You will know straight away if it will work and seeing the surroundings of the location of that specific wall helps with your creative process. It’s also a plus for the people you are designing for because they can immediately see what it’ll sort of look like. 

The murals use basically the same materials as an interior or exterior painter. Which means a trip to the local Resene ColorShop where she’s well-known.

“There is nothing more beautiful than seeing your work come to life and the paint is probably one major factor playing in that. Also every single time I have been into a Resene ColorShop, I don’t know how but a 10 minute in and out, usually takes 30 minutes, because I keep chatting with the lovely employees. Our go-to shop is the Paint Place in Milton and Resene Geebung and I always walk out with a smile,” she says. 

Xana begins her works on a programme called Procreate, a digital illustration app. She takes a photo of the wall or ‘canvas’ to be painted on and adds that in Procreate.” It just shows your design straight on the wall and it makes things a lot easier,” Xana says.

Xana says it’s the quality of the paint that allows her to tackle huge canvasses.

“The coverage of the paint is just unreal and it means that instead of three or four layers of paint, you only need one or two. If anyone knows me, I love sufficiency and Resene is better than that.”

In a single mural she will use dozens of colours. “I don’t think I have one specific favourite colour, because there are just so many I have loved working with. If there is one thing I can say, it’s that the vibrancy in the Resene colours is why I always pick Resene. It creates this dynamic in your work, that I haven’t been able to find with other paints. If I truly would go with one it would probably be an ochre yellow like Resene Apache or an orange like Resene Moroccan Spice. I love warm and earthy tones.”

Xana says Resene paint allows her to use less volume for the same impact.  She applies two coats and finds that’s enough.” If there is one thing I can say, it’s that the vibrancy in the Resene colours is why I always pick Resene.”

Xana has recently started her own shop @muskandmallow which showcases her love of entomology, butterflies and insects. These are frequent motifs in her artwork.  Being creative every day is, she says, the ultimate for an artist.

“I am driven by knowing that I can do my own thing for the rest of the day and have that as my job. Doing what you love and living of that is the most fulfilling thing I have ever experienced. It has definitely had its ups and downs, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.” 

Nature inspires Xana’s work – and she puts it to good use in the urban landscape of  Brisbane. Butterflies and insects are a recurring theme.

See more of Xana’s work:

Published: 02 Dec 2021