C.S. Poppenga
Rocky Heights School, Hermiston, Oregon (USA)
In May 2001 I was an Artist-in-Residence at Rocky Heights Elementary School located in Hermiston, Oregon (USA.) The residency spanned two weeks, during which time I conducted art activities with students in first through fifth grade and kindergarten (students ranged from 5 to 11 years of age.)

In addition to the drawing activities, which all grades participated in, I also instructed and guided the fourth and fifth grade students through the process of creating a permanent wall mural.

During the first week, each class visited the mural site. There, they discussed safety issues, materials and audience concerns. Next, they brainstormed ideas for a mural theme, elements, and composition. Approximately 150 students participated in the mural project.
ABOVE:  The mural at the Rocky Heights Elementary School was created on a heavily textured exterior wall in a courtyard next to the school library. Mural size is approximately 30 feet by 10 feet high.

Students collectively determined the various elements and images that appear in the final work. Problem solving skills came into play as the ideas of 150 individuals were combined into a single composition.

The racoon, a prominent motif in the mural, is the school mascot. The bluff in the background is derived from an actual formation practically adjacent to the school grounds. Time passage is symbolized in the sky: evening, day, and dawn or sunset.

The mural's size and location prevented a single photo taken straight on. The small images below break the compostition into three segments.
Click on the images to view enlargements of each.
Details from the mural.

Click on the images for larger view of each.

Each detail demonstrates how the heavy texture of the wall affected the paint application.

The wall's texture was put to advantage by scumbling colors over colors, the layering building a rich color texture to complement the rough wall surface.

I encouraged students to invent their own character style rather than copy styles that are pervasive in today's culture (such as that of the Walt Disney Studio.) This led to personal and more satisfying images.

I was especially pleased with the lyrical quality that developed in certain passages of the mural, The detail of the watermelon slice next to the racoon tail is an example of this quality.
Email me for information about an Artist in Residence program for your school or organization.
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