Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Middle School Mural, Part Three

Our mural is complete! HURRAY! 

Here are a few suggestions/learning moments I would like to share for those of you with a yearning to mural, or to help your next mural go more smoothly.

We used Sax True Flow acrylics and they worked well. We mixed a little white into each color to give them better opacity. The lightest colors did need an additional coat— and go figure, I realized later that Sax makes a Blockout White, which probably would have been a better way to go! Live and learn. The kids used restaurant cups to carry their paint over to the mural. And I just snapped the lids on and saved them for the next week! Unless there was near nothing left in the cups, the paint stayed moist and usable throughout our five weeks of meeting to work on the mural.


Once we got rolling and past just filling in large areas of color, my students were so motivated that I became a little overwhelmed with many of them asking over and over and/or simultaneously "What do I do now? What's next?" I had about twelve students, for a 6 foot by six foot space. Not everyone could work at the same time, and sometimes with so many working, I could not look to see what needed to be done! So, at the end of each work day I would take a shot of the mural in progress, and before the next meeting, I would mark all of the areas that needed work with a post-it note. Voila! Students could pick an area, pull off a note, and get to work. I also had students washing brushes, filling paint cups, and mixing colors as we needed them. And lets not forget the emergency clean up crew! Damp washcloths at the ready just in case of spills, paint on clothing etc. 

 We had the printout of the image hanging nearby for reference as we worked. For circles and stripes I hung up sheets to practice on. Having a chance to try filling in these areas before heading to the mural gave the kids confidence, and helped their work to be its best. I still found that straight lines were tricky, barring masking every line with tape. So in smaller areas, we opted to make free-form lines, and dab dots. The kids could practice them on the practice sheets as well, and they still gave the look and feel of Britto's original work. They also painted the free-form scribble patterns free hand.

For the final stage of adding black outlines, I painted the outside borders for the kids to fill in, and painted some areas myself. Once you get so close to the finish, you don't want anything to go horribly wrong. And at this point, precision is key!  We managed all of the final touches with success.

This really was a great learning experience for the kids, as well as for me as a teacher, artist, and life-long learner. I also enjoyed the many students and staff who walked by and stopped to give encouragement, thank me for contributing to brightening up our hallways, and find out who I am! Being a part-time teacher who travels to two different schools, I don't always get to feel as much a part of each school's community as I would like. This was a wonderful opportunity to get to know everyone. And I'm glad my students will be able to walk by our mural and know they were part of it for their years at middle school. Great job young artists!

 To see the other stages of our Romero Britto mural, check out these previous posts...

Middle School Mural, Part One

Middle School Mural, Part Two


syllatham said...

Was it a sheetrock wall that you painted on? We have painted cinder blocks and I'm wondering if I need special paint?

Renee Collins said...

Well the quick answer is, maybe? I would think if they are primed and painted, that acrylics would work just fine. When I was in high school, my art teacher had square sections of cinder block wall that she allowed advanced art students to create paintings on. We didn't do anything but take our acrylics and paint our little hearts out. But I haven't done a project on cinder block wall as an adult. My suggestion would be to test it out. Pick a spot close to the floor, in the corner, or behind a cabinet and give it a whirl. You may be pleasantly surprised. You may want to do a coat of primer, to give the paints a longer life on the walls. And I'm assuming that the walls are inside, and not exposed to the elements. Good luck. And please share if you come up with something.

jackaaronfleming said...

syllatham, For more than ten years before I became an art teacher I was a residential/commercial painter. If you are working on cinder block walls that have not previously been coated with paint, then you will have to coat them with primer first. For mural painting, I would recommend not only priming the wall first, but putting a thick coat of paint on first, unless you have money for block filler (thick paint made for block). If you can roll them with paint first use a heavy nap roller, this will fill in the pores of the block better.

Jack Fleming