“Okay, let’s see here… about 2 meters by 7 meters… that’s 80.7 inches by 283.5 inches…”
I’m standing outside near the front wall of Conserve School’s brand new “carport” – a garage of sorts for our vehicles. Fumbling with a rather large tape measure, I’m trying to figure out how big the CS19 mural is going to be.
The first thing I realize is that I’m in way over my head. The initial measurement is almost ten times the size of the biggest painting I’ve ever made before. That painting wasn’t very good, and I threw it away. I haven’t picked up a paintbrush since 2015. Good grief.
Back in early September, I was preparing for my first year as the Art Teaching Fellow here at Conserve. Robert and Nancy, our wonderful art teachers, proposed I start an Arts Club. I jumped at the chance, thinking I could host all kinds of cool activities that we couldn’t fit into the art class curriculum. But paint a mural? I’ve never done that before. When I think of muralists, I think of those painters I used to see back in college, hanging hundreds of feet above the streets of New York City precariously. It’s windy and cold up there, and they would work for hours inside flimsy metal cages. It didn’t look enjoyable.
I reconsider. Artists succeed when they aim high, beyond their capacities. Sure, let’s do it!
The Arts Club jumped right into the mural project during our second week of school. From start to finish, it was a team effort. About 22 people helped out, at one time or another during the process. And what a process it was!
First, we had to measure the dimensions, scale them down, and create a rough draft of the design.
Our plans then changed to work on large wooden panels, which would be mounted onto the carport wall. We cut down the wood panels, sanded them, and primed their surfaces.
We borrowed the Community Room projector and traced the design in pencil.
And the painting began.
It took us over 25 hours and layer upon layer of acrylic. But we finally finished it. After three months of work, it’s done!
The Arts Club had just one more idea before the mural was installed. After lunch one afternoon, our artists invited every student in CS19 to sign the back of the panels.
With help from a few volunteers, the mural was installed the next morning for the whole community to see!
As the semester came to a close, it was sad knowing everyone had to say goodbye. But I hope that, as CS19 headed home, seeing the mural on their way out provided a sense of closure. After all, every CS19 student is connected to Conserve School forever – the proof is signed on the back of the painting.