In May 2006, I was an Artist-in-Residence for one week at the elementary school in the rural community of Frenchglen, Oregon (USA.)
Grades kindergarten through 8th participated in the mural project -- fewer than a dozen students total. The local landscape mural theme was selected by the teachers and students in advance of my arrival. The mural is directly on an interior wall of the school gymnasium. As the week progressed, it seemed there was time for the students to paint a second wall work; The school name and mascot were also painted as a "mini-mural" in the gymnasium.
As with all my residencies, I place as few marks as possible so that the final result is, in fact, the students' work.
LEFT: Blue painter's tape masked off the mural's outside edge.
ABOVE: Painting is underway as major areas are blocked in with expressive brush strokes.
RIGHT: Students researched and made preliminary drawings of elements to be placed in the mural. Then, using each other's drawings for reference, they drew with paint&brush directly on the mural wall.
RIGHT: Getting close to completion, students begin adding details to the work. Here a student is dabbing in juniper berries. Many of the details that were added were based on the students' personal observation and recollection of the diverse natural environment in which they live.
ABOVE: While the main mural was free-hand drawn directly on the wall, the "mini-mural" gave students the opportunity to use an overhead projector. Use of the projector facilitated the work on this smaller mural, as the residency was only one week and most of that time was required for the main mural.
More details to add - here a student uses his fingers to create the highlights on the cougar's paw knuckles.
ABOVE: Another view of the works in-progress. Here the main mural is very close to completion - the blue painter's tape has been removed and one of the students in this photo is adding marks to the gold border to suggest that it is rope.
ABOVE: Work progressing on the "mini-mural".
LEFT: Click on image for close-up of detail of the cougar's head in the main mural. There are several passages like this throughout the mural where paint is as much the subject as the topic/theme. I find that often students' work presents a sophistication that is very refreshing and satisfying.
LEFT: Click on image for detail showing the geese. Notice the expressive twisting or undulation in the necks and heads of the geese.
RIGHT: Click on image for detail showing the sandhill crane's head/neck. The areas where a student change his/her mind about positioning the head and neck are still visible and greatly add to the final quality of this element. Again, a level of sophistication is achieved. The most important lesson for the student in this instance is that it is okay to change one's mind but the traces of that change continue to play a part in the final product.
RIGHT: Click image for close up detail from the mini-mural. Students used scumbling brush strokes that allowed the gray underpaint to simulate shadow and build form.
BELOW & Right: The completed murals.
LEFT: Click on image for detail showing the redtail hawk. Note the blue juniper berries created with paint and fingertip.
At right: Click image for larger image of one of the many awesome sunsets I saw during my residency! Frenchglen is located in perhaps the most interesting environment I've seen as an artist-in-residence.