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Community Mural Making

By Leah Samuelson


1. Basecoating


1. Prepping the Surface l  On-site/on-wall mural: Scrape chipping paint off the wall and clean and dry surface. Prime once. Base coat twice with chosen latex/acrylic color. (Medium to low sheen. A bold color works best.) Portable/on-fabric mural: Stretch dry fabric around a frame using a staple gun, or on a wall using a staple gun, or on the ground using 7cm (3 in.) nails. If stretching fabric against a wall or ground, layer a sheet of plastic behind the fabric because paint will soak through. Leave plastic stuck to fabric until final coat of paint is dry. l  If using nails, place each nail through a 3x3 cm (1x1 in.) l  scrap of cardboard as you drive the nails into the ground around the edge of fabric every 15 cm (6 in.). To stretch fabric tight, begin nailing the fabric to the ground at the center points of its longest sides. Apply three nails to one edge, then three to the opposite edge. Continue applying nails in sets of three and alternate sides- moving toward the fabric's corners. Jump to the fabric's shorter ends and apply a nail at their center points as well. Continue to move around the canvas, pulling the fabric edge outward as you nail.


2. Research


2. Pictorial Research lď Źâ€ŻSketch/record colors, designs, and subject matter from local culture's "symbolic universe."


3. Mural Drawing


3. Drawing the Design lď Źâ€ŻIf your group of painters is large or inexperienced, decide upon most of the mural composition before consulting your group. Sketch your design on paper.


4. Gridding


4. Gridding the Mural lď Źâ€ŻDraw a proportionally identical grid over the mural drawing on paper and on the mural itself. Use charcoal or chalk on the mural.


5. Transfer Design


5. Transferring the Design lď Źâ€ŻUse the grid as a guide to re-draw the mural sketch onto the mural fabric in charcoal or chalk. Once a satisfactory drawing is transferred, make it more permanent by tracing over it with pencil.


6. Supplies


6. Amassing Supplies lď Źâ€ŻDecide on a limited color palette and do not allow students to mix custom colors. Pre-pour and prearrange cups or palettes of paints, one set per 1-3 students. Tip: place plastic cups filled with paint into an empty shoebox as a palette holder. Include a cup of water or paint thinner with the palette to rinse brushes. Have plenty of cotton rags or paper towels on hand- one per student per day. Note: DO NOT pile up rags wet with paint thinner- this is a SERIOUS fire hazard.


7. Introduce Mural


7. Introducing the Project lď Źâ€ŻIntroduce the students to the mural wall or mural fabric in the context in which they will be working on it. Explain the role of each student and assign each a portion of mural space.


8. Student Designs


8. Designing the Content lď Źâ€ŻGive a lesson on the theme of the mural. Explain that it is composed of several separate parts that will work together to form one piece. Assign students to groups that will each be in charge of designing the contents of one mural part. Have the groups draw their ideas on paper.


9. Charcoal Transfer


9. Transferring the Content lď Źâ€ŻTransfer each design from paper to the mural via tracing with carbon paper or tracing after scribbling a solid layer of charcoal or graphite onto the backside of your design paper.


10. Demonstrate


10. Demonstrating Painting Techniques lď Źâ€ŻShow class how to use brush and palette and how to apply paint to the mural. Emphasize rinsing and drying the brush after each color use.


11. Paint Groups


11. Setting up Groups for Painting lď Źâ€ŻThe number of students that can be painting the mural at one time will vary according to the size of the mural. I have found each student needs .6 x .6 m (2 x 2 ft) of mural space to themselves. Also, a good ratio of mural students to instructors is 4:1.


12. Alternative Project Step 1


12. Working Painting Shifts lď Źâ€ŻTo accommodate students who cannot work on the mural at once, introduce an additional project that supplements the mural.


13. Alternative Project Step 2


Mixing Colors lď Źâ€ŻThis example is a banner that spells out the title of the mural. This is a good opportunity to allow the creativity of mixing colors.


14. Center Design


13. Calling Out Design Leaders lď Źâ€ŻBased on their pre-assessments and practice drawings, select individual students to execute key areas.


15. Finishing Touch


16. Hemming


17. Signing


18. Hanging Mural


18. Hanging the Mural. lď Źâ€ŻIf your mural is free-standing, design a sleeve for a curtain pole or looped tabs for a rope from which to hang it. In this example we strung a rope through the several, decorated black and white tabs atop the mural and tied the rope to the existing curtain finials.


19. Rehearse the Presentation


19. Rehearsing to Present lď Źâ€ŻHave the class sit as a practice audience. Recruit volunteers who will stand in front of the mural and explain one of its elements. Rehearse good stance and message.


20. Presentation


19. Presenting Your Work lď Źâ€ŻRun presentation as practiced in rehersal so students are familiar with their placement and order of speaking. As the instructor, publically affirm the class's workmanship.

Portable Mural Making Process  

This process, described in images with descriptions, is from a project conducted by Leah Samuelson in Guatemala as part of a BuildaBridge Ar...

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