When Arlene McLoughlin was in sixth grade, she made her first mural.
Clearly she loved it — the Massapequa-based McLoughlin has run Arlene McLoughlin Murals for 27 years. McLoughlin, an FIT graduate who originally studied fashion illustration, found her true calling after first trying her hand at something else.
“I started a bridal business but I realized that I enjoy painting more than sewing,” she explains, “so when I got pregnant with my daughter in 1994 I painted a mural in her room and it kind of exploded after that. I started and haven’t stopped since.” Since then, McLoughlin has diversified into faux-finishes, exterior brick painting, and even furniture and cabinet painting.
With extensive experience, McLoughlin has a vast and stunning portfolio of work under her belt. Her range is eclectic — some of the projects she’s most proud of are completely different from one another. While her Day of the Dead-inspired art at Dirty Taco in Woodbury and her intricate, stirring recreation of Sicily’s St. John the Baptist Church ceiling in a residential home may seem completely different, the polish and precision on display are uniquely McLoughlin.
McLoughlin works closely with her clients on every project. For the church ceiling recreation, she says, “The client grew up in Sicily and wanted to bring his hometown parish church here. He specifically had a ceiling built to accommodate the mural. I have to say, it really is amazing.”
McLoughlin’s husband, Dale, has also gotten involved with the business. “He is a gifted carpenter,” says McLoughlin. “He sprays the kitchen cabinets and furniture and is also my safety/heights person. So if we have a really high chimney, for example, he’ll be the one who does the whitewashing of the bricks for me. He laid out the entire ceiling on the [Sicily] project. You can see everything lines up perfectly. There was a lot of symmetry on that ceiling.”
The artistic process for McLoughlin involves both craft and research. “My husband and I assess the situation as far as carpentry and heights and then I gather visual resources — other artists’ work for inspiration, my own sketches or stencils,” she explains. “Then I’ll show the visual aids to the client and we’ll go from there.” McLoughlin points out that though she’s had high-profile, famous clients such as Long Island Medium’s Theresa Caputo and fashion designer Jenna Lyons, she treats every project with the same care and process.
A distinguished and respected artist, McLoughlin is a five-time winner of the American Paint Contractors Awards, and a member of the Society of Decorative Painters. Today, she plans to bring her son, Owen, and her nephew, Dante, into the fold as apprentices. “I’m hoping at some point when I retire they can carry the tradition of excellence I’ve been able to give my clients for 27 years.” In addition to her mural work, McLoughlin does beautiful furniture design, faux-finishes and marble work, something she calls “different, exciting projects.”
One project McLoughlin has always wanted to work on is a large-scale outdoor mural that goes along the side of a large building. She recently submitted a bid for a community project to make that dream come true. “I’m hoping!” she exclaims.
McLoughlin believes that a mural brings something special and unique to a home that can be priceless for the client. “People love to have some sort of uniqueness to their home,” she says. “A mural, unlike wallpaper, allows people to really get creative and have something completely custom that no one else has. And if you find the right muralist and can make an artist’s painting or drawing their own, you’ll have something nobody else has.”