In April 2003 I was an Artist-in-Residence at LaPine Middle School in LaPine, Oregon (USA.) I instructed nine classes of 5th and 6th grade, with close to 30 students in each class and the overall total number of students ranging between 250 to 270.
During the initial in-class session, students explored the visual vocabulary of expressive line. Using music as an inspirational source, students created non-objective descriptions of the music using compressed charcoal on paper.
For the second session, students primed pre-cut half-inch thick squares and rectangles of particle board. At the third session they were given rectangular or square segments from various aerial views of the nearby Deschutes River. Students drew these individual non-objective pictures onto the particle board panels.
ABOVE: Students team up to assemble the panels their class drew. It was interesting to see how closely (or not) the drawings on each panel matched up with its neighboring panels.
ABOVE:The first segment of the nine different aerial views, completed and installed on a hallway wall. A minimum of 1 1/2 inch space was left between panels. The space echoes the meandering river. Reddish orange indicates where an image segment ran off the page and also serves as a complementary relief to the greens. Reddish orange squares also served to visually divide the nine aerial views (which were not necessarily contiguous.)
BELOW: The second segment aerial view. This mural's location made it difficult to photograph with a digital camera.)
Murals don't have to be "just" a pretty picture.
This river mural
can be the starting point for discussions about local river ecology or geology. It can inspire poetry or short stories. Teachers can use it as a visual aid when talking about elements of art such as line, texture, composition, complementary color, objective and non-objective art.
and discover how an unconventional mural
your school's environment!
RIGHT: Once the painting began, things moved rapidly. Every panel had input from at least three different students. In addition to emphasizing the teamwork aspect, this approach also has the effect of evening out the overall look of the completed mural. It also helps every student -- even those who are less confident -- to feel ownership in the entire work.
BELOW: Segment three and four of mural turn a corner and the mural continues nearly the entire length of a second hallway. The panels were installed using one inch ribbed panelling nails. Whenever possible, only two nails were used--top and bottom.
BELOW: Because of the large number of students, I also had them create a mountain mural based on a grid of Canadian artist A. MacDonald's painting titled, "Rain in the Mountains." As with the river mural, this was created on individual squares (in this case, all were the same size--12 inch by 12 inch.
BELOW:I photographed the mural in segments, taking in all or nearly all of the composition of each segment (when necessary, photographing segments in two parts.)
CLICK ON EACH IMAGE BELOW for a larger view of that image.
The images below appear in the order in which they were installed on the wall, from left to right.
CLICK FULL VIEW to see all images presented in a left to right format that can be scrolled left to right. Because of the limits of space and camera angles, the full view does not show each section completely (some overlapping of image is apparent. The stitched together photos does not present a straight line even though the actual mural is installed with a common upper edge.) However, the stiched photos do convey a sensation of the visual impact of the approximately 100 foot mural.