ART ACTION TECHNIQUE NO.1:
MCAC ART ACTION TOOLBOX TECHNIQUE NO. 1
INTRODUCTION This guide takes you step-bystep through the process of creating public murals. Mayfield Community Arts Centre has used this technique for over 10 years to engage young people in the creation of public art that communicates messages of importance to them. We learned the technique with the help of our partner in Nicaragua, FUNARTE. We hope you find this guide useful and inspiring!
BEFORE YOU START! • It is great if you can paint a mural on a wall in a public space! Lots of people will see your work and hopefully will think about its message. However, some advance planning is necessary to create art in public spaces. It may take some time to find an appropriate wall and to get permission to paint on it. If the wall adjoins private property you will need to ask the owner of that property. Also, you will need to work with the City or Town Council where you live. It is their responsibility to maintain the public spaces. They will advise you which department you need to contact. It is a good idea to get written permission from this department to paint your mural. They will also give you advice about how to manage the public space around the wall while you paint. • If you don’t have a public space, you can paint on large boards and move your mural when you find somewhere to display it. Plywood boards about 1cm thick, 4ft long and 8ft high are suitable. Prime the boards with 3 layers of white matt acrylic before beginning your mural. Keep them stored safely away from heat so that they do not warp or go out of shape.
WHAT YOU NEED PAINT: •10 litres white acrylic housepaint •5 litres primary red acrylic •5 litres primary yellow acrylic •5 litres primary blue acrylic BRUSHES: •2 large (approx 20cm) rollers and roller basins •6 small (approx 10cm) rollers and basins •A range of strong brushes for house painting, from 1 inch to 4 inches •A range of small artists brushes for details 6 large buckets for water Old paint pot lids for palettes A selection of rags Charcoal Chalk line (you can find this in paint supply shops) Paper and colour pencils for the sketch A ruler Measuring tape Stepladder Plastic sheeting Duct Tape
STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE Stage One: Exploring the Theme. The mural should convey a message that is important to you. So It is worth spending time exploring the theme and choosing a specific message. Use non-formal learning methods such as moving debates, role play and group discussion to share opinions and ideas. Follow by creating small pieces of drama in groups of 3 or 4 people. Use the drama to explore the challenges and to try to come up with ways to overcome the challenges. Taking digital photographs of this process will help the group to come up with images for the mural.
There are 5 stages to the completion of a mural: 1.Exploring the theme 2.Making the sketch 3.Transferring the sketch onto the wall 4.Painting the mural 5.Presenting the mural to the public
Stage Two: Making the sketch Collect all the ideas from the exploration stage. With the group, facilitate a discussion on how to put the idea together. It helps to have a scaled (1:10) sketch of the blank wall, showing any doors or windows. It is the job of the facilitator to suggest ways to combine the ideas. An experienced mural artist should then work with the ideas to compose the sketch. If your group are confident at drawing this can be done by one or two of them. If not, one artist should take responsibility for this. The sketch starts with a series of flowing lines to create an overall composition. The elements of the design (people, animals, buildings) are added along these lines. Perspective should be added, by making important elements large in the foreground and less important elements smaller in the background. When the sketch is ready it is shown to the whole group for their contributions. Then the artist can finish it, adding colour. Finally a grid of 3cm squares is drawn over the whole sketch, with a number in each square.
Stage Three: Transferring the sketch Make colour photocopies of the sketch for everyone. Prepare the wall by painting it with at least 3 layers of acrylic white paint. Use the chalk line and measuring tape to create a chalk grid o the blank wall, making each square 30cm apart. If you have a data projector (and lots of extension leads) you can wait until it is dark and then project a scanned image of the mural onto the wall, tracing it with charcoal. If not you can work directly from the sketch. Assign a number of squares to each person. They should start by sketching the outlines with charcoal. When everyone is happy with the transferred sketch, go over the charcoal with yellow paint.
Stage Four: Painting the Mural When you are happy with the sketch, begin painting the background using washes of pale colours. A wash is a watered-down colour. Use large brushes to block in the major areas of background. Acrylic dries very quickly, so you should be able to build up the colour using many layers of washes. Move onto the smaller details, using stronger colours and smaller brushes. If you have pure primary colours, you will be able to mix any colour you want. You can use a little bit of black if you need to, but it is good practice to try to make your dark shades from just the 3 colours. Keep your space tidy throughout, so that it is safe for you and for curious passers by.
Stage Five: Presenting the mural This is an important stage. You want everyone to see and appreciate your finished mural! Organise a launch event to publicly celebrate your achievements. You can make and send invitations in advance. Invite someone from the local city council to make a speech. You could also invite photographers or journalists from the local papers to come along. Post the pictures, videos and reports on your website or Facebook page. All of these things will spread the message of your mural even further. Don’t forget to thank everyone who made the mural a possibility! And finally, have a party to celebrate together!
More! In this Toolbox: •Theatre Techniques that can be used to explore themes for your mural. •A Case Study of Muralismo •About our partner FUNARTE On the Web: •See video clips on the process. •Read our Resource Pack “Painting for Change” about muralismo •See a video clip (in Spanish) about the work of FUNARTE in Esteli.
Chapter 1 from Mayfield Community Arts Centre's Art Action Toolbox. This i a short guide to using muralismo as a technique in global learnin...