I was so excited to be able to create this mural for our local elementary school! Here’s a post with lots of images and details about the process.
Collaborating with the students was the first step in the process. I wanted to learn what they liked best about the library and see the images they envisioned for the mural. They gave me so many fantastic drawings. After soaking in their ideas, I focused on the power of reading and its effect on art, music, science and community. Here are some of the student sketches I incorporated into the mural.
The Design: One line coming from a book
My main goal was to create a vision that cultivates creative thinking and generates discussion. I leaned toward abstract designs that would allow people to interpret them in their own way. Less information sometimes allows for a greater variety of meaning. In this way, I hope the mural will spark some imaginative discussions. To solidify the metaphor of the power of a single book, the mural design is one continuous line coming from a book.
(Here are a couple of sketches below.)
Finally, I got to start painting!
First off, I’d never painted a mural before, so the biggest hurdle for me was to figure out the best kind of paint to use! I reached out to one of the top mural groups in Portland, Rather Severe. They were so kind and generous, not only telling me what kind of paint to use, but how to thin it, and also to let them know if I had more questions. Thanks for that guys! Portland really has an amazing art community.
Kids are so great. This mural was in the hallway of the school, right outside the library. Even when I just started painting the gray background, a class would walk by and kids would say “Wow! That’s so awesome!” After the background was dry, I used charcoal to draw the design onto the wall. That way I could easily erase if needed. The kids were very excited to see the designs take shape. Then when I started adding color they were even more enthusiastic. I think it was pretty fun for them to see the mural evolve over the few weeks that I painted it. The whole experience was just amazing. Definitely one of my favorite projects ever.
Here are some video clips filmed by students in the “News TV Crew”.
My own interpretation of the design starts with the open book. We are drawn into the world of the book through the door of the library. After we travel through nature, animals, art and music, we arrive at the Tree of Reflection where we can process all of the information we learned from the book. After that we take action, using what we learned to make the world a better place through science, exploration, and discovery. Then we come to the Equity Birds, representing the Beaverton School District’s belief that we all need varying amounts of help to reach a common goal, helping our community grow stronger and more unified. Finally, the line ends at the Sunflower, representing future growth and development.
The Mural Project was made possible thanks to the generous support of these organizations:
West Slope Neighborhood Association Committee and the City of Beaverton Neighborhood Matching Grant Program
Beaverton Arts Commission
Cultural Coalition of Washington County