Artist in Residence
Humbolt Elementary, LaPine Oregon
In late January 2010, I was an Artist-in-Residence for one week at Humbolt Elementary in Canyon City, Oregon (USA.) Canyon City is a small community immediately south of John Day.
All First and Second Grade students participated in the mural project. The mural theme, "A Nice Day - From Garden to Forest" was determined by students in classroom discussions. The final mural size was approximately 4 ft high by 26 ft. As with all my residencies, I place as few marks as possible so that the final result is the students' work.
The teacher-selected site for the mural was too high for students to reach and ladders or scaffolding were not options. Initial teacher suggestion was to have students paint on paper that could then be installed. However, paper is a surface students use on a regular basis and I wanted them to experience something different. My solution was to use 1/4 inch plywood (good on one side).
ABOVE: Shown are most of the plywood cutouts I produced the second evening of the residency. (The first evening I spent priming the 4 x 8 ft sheets of plywood.) The first two days of the residency I had the students create preliminary drawings so I could get a feel for how I might shape the cutouts to match their overall drawing styles.
Students begin blocking in the basic colors of each section (or, in the case of the rainbow shape, the lightest color, yellow, first--which was then taped out and each successive color was painted and taped out until completion)
Some of the cutouts at various stages of color blocking.
Sometimes, as with the sunflower stalks, the complementary color was used first, to be followed by the final color (for example, red first then green over top.
Students begin to create shapes within the cutout shapes---this allowed their particular drawing/painting mannerisms to be the focus.
In this photo, you can also see students in the background sitting on the floor---they are drawing an object I often bring with me for still-life drawing sessions: a horse skull (visible on the stand). Drawing something they are not very familiar with helps to sharped their observational skills.
LEFT and RIGHT:
Students add more and more details to the forms they are creating.
Bumblebees, salamanders, morel mushrooms, insects---
even huckleberries for the bear (right) become part of the scene.
LEFT and STAIR-STEP DOWN TO RIGHT (you may have to scroll left to right and/or down:
The mural is completed!
The wall where the mural will be installed was not ready by the end of my residency (volunteers were preparing to paint it a sky blue.)
So I photographed the mural in segments laid out on the floor in the arrangement it will be in once it's on the wall.
Often, I add something to the mural after the students have finished and gone home on the last day of the residency. My addition to this mural is the black cat, representing Canuck, my 25 yr old cat who'd passed away in December 2009
There were a lot of interesting details added by the students. And had there been two weeks instead of one in which to create the mural, I'm certain there would have been no shortage of even more additions.
Notice the bittern (bird) standing among the cattails in the segment in the photo to the right of this text box.
The mural as installed on the wall of the school lunch room. I returned to eastern Oregon in April for another artist residency and so had the opportunity to stop in at Humbolt School to photograph the installed mural.
Bottom edge of the mural, which rests just above the wainscotting (the edge of which can be seen in the photo below), is about 7 to 8 ft above the floor. The sunflower, clouds, sun, soaring hawk, and top of the pine tree all extend up into the window area. The wall immediatly behind the mural parts was painted blue to suggest sky.
All the parts of the mural were individually screwed securely to the wall and/or parts of the mural pieces that overlap. Photos of the installation process will be posted as soon as they are obtained from the school.