Photo by Amanda Simmons/Press-Tribune

Bossier City artist brings underwater world to life in new painting

The world is Chris Opp’s canvas.

His hand painted, often larger-than-life murals are adding splashes of color throughout Shreveport-Bossier. Opp’s latest piece at First Baptist Bossier has kids “swimming” through an underwater scene.

Photo by Amanda Simmons/Press-Tribune
Photo by Amanda Simmons/Press-Tribune

The 34ft x 10ft aquarium project began last summer as just an idea. With every brush stroke, though, his design filled the floor to ceiling canvas in a matter of weeks.

“When I started this, there were blue walls…that was it,” Opp said.

In addition to the hand painted walls, Opp constructed 3D dolphins out of styrofoam to give the mural dimension. He also hung 460 four inch plastic balls from the ceiling.

“I wanted it to feel like a dome when you walk through the hallway,” he added.

Kelly Cathey, children’s director at First Bossier, said Opp’s design is the perfect addition to their facility.

Photo by Amanda Simmons/Press-Tribune
Photo by Amanda Simmons/Press-Tribune

“We had this interesting hallway and we wanted something that would be engaging and fun for the kids,” she explained. “When they come here with their families come here, we really want them to feel excited even as they walk through the hallways. We want them to feel comfortable with us.”

There are various species of aquatic life painted throughout the mural. Opp researched each one and based his work on photos from books.

There are scuba divers, a sunken pirate ship, submarines and even a ‘ninja’ turtle.

“I like to do fun little things for the kids,” Opp said. “I always hide things in my murals. If you look around, you’ll see little details spread throughout.”

Cathey added: “It’s fun to see people stand there and look through all the details. There are people’s names hidden in there and even a little creature riding on another creature. Our kids have really enjoyed it and we’re so excited to have it here. [Chris] has an incredible talent and we’re so happy he was able to do this for us.”

Cathey said they will be adding new lights to the hallway to give it a more underwater feel. She hopes to have Opp do another project with them in the future.

Photo by Amanda Simmons/Press-Tribune

The underwater mural was Opp’s 16th of 23 projects in 2015. He owns and operates Chris Opp Art & Construction, LLC in Bossier City.

He hopes his latest design will encourage others to keep on swimming through life.

“I bring color into a grey world,” Opp said. “If I cause you to think or smile at what I do, I’ve done my job. I try to think like a child and be like a child. You can’t help but smile when you walk up to a smiling dolphin.”

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