Making a mark with murals

You may not know Tansy Maki by sight, although she certainly stands out in a crowd.

Tall, blonde and striking, she has been transforming canvasses, walls, rooms and buildings throughout the Cayman Islands ever since she arrived here in 2000.

Her work is eye-catching and distinctive, and there is a high demand for her services.

From private residences to prominent offices and top hotels, Tansy originals can be found locally and abroad wherever people appreciate that a two-dimensional space can become so much more when left in the hands of the right artist.

She was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, and was exposed to art at a very young age thanks to her father’s natural talent for drawing and sketching.

Her first job was as a special events planner and designer, creating themed environments and motifs, which led into work in the film industry designing, sculpting and painting set pieces.

Her artwork was so admired that she went on to paint backdrop murals for commercial sets, and murals in private homes and for commercial businesses.

When Tansy moved to Grand Cayman it didn’t take long for her to make a name for herself. She collaborated with another artist to create extraordinary scenes throughout the Hook’s and Athena’s restaurants, located at Treasure Island resort.

Pirates appeared to leap off the walls in Hook’s as Greek goddesses lay on beds in temples at Athena’s next door. It was the first time many on the island had seen murals of such scale and detail and they certainly created a lasting impression.

Since that time, Tansy’s fan base has grown and she has gone on to create commissioned paintings, Trompe L’Oeil murals, ceiling murals and frescoes. And she is known for her expertise in faux finishing, Venetian plastering, marbling, and speciality painted furniture.

One visually splendid example of her work is an 80-foot mural of an Italian landscape scene, painted in sepia tones on the exterior wall of a private residence in East End.

One of her most recent murals that can be seen by the public is a 10 by 12 foot underwater scene that was painted at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman for its Ambassadors of the Environment programme.

It depicts native coral and marine species and is used as an interactive tool for children to learn more about the Cayman Islands.

Tansy is also well known for the work she has done to create nurseries for babies and rooms for children.

One client remarked: “My son is learning about the marine life in this wonderful mural and I see it not only as a beautiful piece of art but an educational tool as well.”

As a professional freelance artist, Tansy draws on experiences of travelling throughout Canada, Europe, Central America and the Caribbean and takes inspiration from the natural world.

The wealth of vivid colours, patterns and compositions found in nature is almost always employed in the pieces she creates.

Her mural subjects are diverse and have featured everything from old world French landscapes to Italian themes, renaissance skies and realistic wildlife scenes.

Utilising 10 years of airbrush experience, Tansy achieves a sense of realism and depth in her murals.

Detailed brushwork creates a lifelike effect that pulls the main subjects into the foreground. These balanced compositions are carefully designed to lead the viewer’s eye through the painting and scene.

She has studied Venetian Plastering at Dundean Studios in New York and is enthralled with the textures and finishes that can be achieved with such Italian techniques, which she sometimes incorporates into her murals and canvas work.

Tansy expertly combines colours such as deep rich tones to create a Spanish terracotta finish, or creams and tans to create a sandstone texture, producing many different effects. A few examples are Trompe L’Oeil marble, sandstone, leather and bamboo panels.

“When it comes to texture, there is no limit to what can be achieved,” she says, “Be it painting, texturing or plastering on a wall with some finish, it always adds warmth, comfort, character and ambience to a space.”

Biology, geography, ornithology and climatology are of personal interest to Tansy, and are reflected in her murals and artwork. She is intrigued and fascinated with cloud patterns, textures of stones, rich colours in autumn leaves and the vein patterns and colours in marble. Even the complexity of a feather can significantly influence her work.

“The beauty and simplicity of form and shape, the way a beam of light touches a leaf–my eye will catch a certain image that instills an emotion of excitement or awe that I want to share and express to the viewer,” she says,.

“I want to accentuate and convey the beauty of our surroundings.” 



Brian Phelps