I just wanted to share my experience with making a mural last summer when
our community had an ART IN THE PARK week. I was in charge of a mural on a
wall about 15 meters long, along the road that led to the playground/park
where the other activities were being held.
The wall was prepared ahead of time by the community maintenance men and
given several coats of white paint. A local housepainter donated cans of
waterbase housepaint in red, blue, yellow, green, white and black. The
local supermart donated plastic cups and plates and the hardware store
donated a good supply of paint brushes and masking tape and sponges.
Traffic was blocked off that street for safety reasons.
Since the wall was so long and I would have a different group of kids each
day (they rotated activities) I divided the wall into five sections of
approximately three meters each. That way each group would have a white
wall to start with afresh each day. (Important because nobody likes to
paint on something that someone else has started.)
The kids were mixed ages, mostly elementary school age, a very few
pre-school. I started each morning by explaining that everything that we
see is made up of three elements; curves, lines and angles. I asked them to
look around and point out the curves, lines and angles that they could
see...for example the light pole is a vertical line, car wheels are curves,
windows have angles, etc. etc.
Then I had them make curves in the air with their arms using their whole
body in the action...then angles, then lines...I asked them how a curve felt
different from an angle...etc.
Then we started to work. I asked one of the children to go up to the wall
and with a permanent black marker make a big curve that started at one of
the four sides of our area and ended at any of the other four sides. Then
another child drew another curve starting from a different side and ending
at one of the other four sides...Several more children divided the space
with a curve...I encouraged them to make different size and different kinds
Then we did the same thing with angles, one child at a time drawing an angle
that divided up the space. It was interesting to see how instinctively they
divided the space in a balanced manner.
Then we did straight lines connecting those that made up the curves and angles.
Next we used masking tape applied to the wall to connect up some of the
spaces from one line to another. Masking tape was also applied to create
stripes in some areas.
As all the above was being done, we discussed balance and composition and
variety of shapes that were being created.
Meanwhile, my assistant poured out paint in paper cups diluting it to the
right consistency with water. Each color was placed on a paper plate with
several brushes to be used for that color only. By using different brushes
for each color there was no need to wash brushes inbetween applications of
Each child was to choose a shape that had been created on the wall that
particularly appealed to them and paint it a solid color of their choice.
This was to get them used to painting on the wall and using the brush and color.
After they had each painted a solid color shape they were to choose another
shape that they liked and do blended colors by starting with a different
color from each end of the shape and blending the color in the middle. In
this way they discovered how to mix colors.
Those who finished with the above, could then pick another shape and paint
it with a pattern of their own invention. Could be dots, stripes, flower
pattern...geometric shapes, whatever...experimenting could be done with sponges.
Experimenting was also done in mixing colors.
Those who finished with the above, could then pick a shape that reminded
them of something and make it into that something...could be a profile, an
By this time it was cleanup time (the activity lasted from 9:00 to 12:30
every morning). Everyone helped clean up and then we pulled off the masking
tape to reveal white lines where the paint hadn't gone. This was an
exciting moment and the well distributed white tied the whole thing
together. Spaces that had not been painted were also white, although by
this time there were very few. The whole thing had a coherence because of
the curves, lines and angles in the composition, and although each daily
group did the same exercise, the five different areas each had a different
'personality'. The finished wall is really beautiful! After it completely
dried we gave it two coats of sealer. After a rainy winter it is still as
bright as ever!
The kids were all pleased with what they had done, and even though they were
of mixed age, no one felt pushed aside or left out, because each had their
own shape to work in. (One of the rules was 'no painting on someone elses
shape') The little ones did the lower shapes and the taller kids the higher
ones. Its a wonderful abstract wall with an occasional recognizable subject
here and there.
Mark, if you would like a photo of the wall, I can send it to you if you
send your snail mail address.
Monte Porzio Catone, Italy