The artist in this video is Bernie Mitchell. Back in the early 1990s he was a drywall finisher, and he began “experimenting with raised panels on wall surfaces where natural light had a positive effect as a relief form.”
When he first began creating these interesting designs, he started with simply leaving impressions in wet joint compound using wheat and barley stalks. He was also experienced at carving designs into leather, and this is what inspired him to transfer the idea to wall relief.
He has come a long way with his initial designs; “…he puts his creativity to work designing, constructing, sculpting and finishing specialty features in shoreline homes and cottages. He prefers to use birds as his main subjects – blue heron, osprey and loons – but he also enjoys sculpting horses, wolves and dogs.”
An article about Bernie on JLC Online provides some more insight into his process. He begins with a blank wall that has had a few coats of primer put on. He then creates a customized mixture of “standard drywall mud that’s first thinned with water, then firmed up with dry setting compound.” Though there is no set recipe for what he does, he simply tries to get the mix to a consistency that is wet enough to stick to the wall, but also not so wet that it drips off of it.
He uses a combination of a 4-inch drywall knife and other, narrower knives to carve out the finished design. He even uses an ordinary tablespoon for some of the details, and dry brushes to add texture. Fur on animals is created by dragging “a crumpled piece of plastic bag over an area of still-soft mud.”
He shows off a lot of the amazing designs he has done on his Facebook page and his website. Via his website, he is also hoping to soon provide tutorials so others can do what he does. Watch as he transforms a glob of his mix into detailed landscapes.