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Creating a School Mural: Jackie's Garden, Glenavon School

Here's a step by step account of the mural making process - I hope it's useful!

The creative process and approach for this mural project at Glenavon School in Blockhouse Bay, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, was really successful and easy to manage and was great learning for the children involved.

1. Coming up with the design and concept

I worked with Jackie Miru-Fransham on the design idea for this mural. Very sadly lovely Jackie passed away after a short illness before the project was started so the school decided to go ahead with the mural in honour of Jackie, a much loved staff member and friend of Glenavon School. Abstract Garden became Jackie's Garden. It was an honour to bring this project to fruition to celebrate Jackie.

The theme of abstract garden was decided on with Jackie as we felt it would be achievable for the children to create and would result in a mural drawn and painted to a high standard. We adapted the design to include a midnight blue in the background (Jackie's favourite colour) and cherry blossoms (one of Jackie's favourite flowers).

Children with special abilities in the visual arts were selected to work on the mural.

2. Initial discussions

In the first session we talked about considerations we needed to be aware before starting the mural, such as the purpose of the mural, the audience, the location, the school as a whole, the theme and the context.

3. Exploring the theme and drawing

I printed out images of abstract garden ideas and had many images collected on my Pinterest page for the children to access. The children did a lot of drawing on paper initially focusing on composition, shape, pattern, space and line. This was an important part of the process and helped children develop their ideas, practise drawing abstract garden shapes and to start thinking about composition, balance and scale.

4. Developing painting techniques and skills

It is very important to make sure children can paint well before starting the final mural. I taught painting techniques, in particular painting straight lines, painting within a shape with a sharp edge and applying the right amount of paint. They practised these skills on their drawings. Their drawings also proved to be a good reference for starting the mural.

5. Applying sealer and background colour

One coat of white outdoor sealer was applied thickly and one coat of background colour (Resene Lumbersider) using a roller on a stick. I knew we would apply the second coat of blue background colour at the end.

6. Laying down the first shapes

The children decided on what they'd like to draw, one shape at a time, and talked to me about their choices and where they thought the shape could go on the mural. I gave them feedback and helped them decide on position, size, final shape, colour etc. This was an important part of their learning and it helped them understand considerations and decisions that an artist needs to make around balance, overlapping, space, colour, overall composition and responding to what is already there.

We used chalk to draw basic shapes and a wet cloth to wipe off lines when necessary. This did get messy at times as children found it hard to apply the chalk lightly. You can paint over the chalk and it does come off easily so is the best medium for drawing up shapes before painting.

At this point we just wanted to get the first shapes in, knowing that we would come back to them to apply the second coat and pattern later. Once we had a number of shapes down we started to carefully overlap and underlap shapes.

7. Adding pattern and details

Once we had the second coats applied on the shapes we decided on the pattern to be added, discussing as before with each student and allowing them some creative input. Most of the time we didn't draw the pattern but went straight in with paint. The children were getting more confident by this stage!

8. Adding final touch ups

10. Putting up the mural

Our surface was corrugated metal on the end of a classroom building so we needed to screw in wooden frames first and then the pieces of plywood were screwed in.

11. The final result

Thank you to Suzie, Rachel and John from Glenavon School for giving me this wonderful opportunity to work with your talented, committed students.

If you need help or advice on your mural project get in touch with Mandy

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