Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Collaborative Mural Painting!!!

I am so excited to share with you my first ever TIME-LAPSE VIDEO of my Annual Collaborative Mural Painting!  This year the theme was " Hot Air Balloon Magic".  I looked at many images for inspiration. Most ideas came from three main artists; Joey Chou, a current Disney Illustrator, Mary Blair, a Disney Illustrator from the 50's, and Ton Schulten, my favorite abstract landscape painter.


I have done this for about 10 years now.  I used to have students paint a flower garden. They could paint any kind of flower, anywhere, any color. Doing a mural that way is more creative for students but it runs into some issues.  It is not a smooth process, there are arguments about location, size, colors. Then if someone does not finish, they are upset when someone finishes it differently than they planned. You can see the headache it can become.  

I started 6 years ago drawing a mural around a school wide theme.  First year, I let students paint in certain areas with warm colors, other areas cool colors. It was okay, but looked very unorganized.  Then, 3 years ago, my classes were taken from 60 to 45 minutes.  Game changer, I began creating a large paint by number.  I mix lots of colors, this year 21 color wheel colors. 

I tell students, "I get to be the artist! My vision, my work of art, you are going to help me paint it!".  THEY LOVE THIS!  It has made this experience so fun! Everyone likes having a color with a number. No arguing, no issues!  They have a blast and feel proud of being a part of something huge.  

I number part of the mural first, let the colors get filled in, then decide how to number the rest of the areas.  Students paint way faster than you expect! If yo see me in the video working, I am numbering, not painting. I try to keep up with their pace!



  1. LOVE! I HAVE to borrow it. Great work with the video... I'm going to show my kids!

  2. Stunning! Three questions... What do you attach the paper to the walls with? And what brand of paint is that? Do you mix a little white into the colors to get them to bright? Your website is full of beautiful work!

    1. Thanks for the kind words! The paper is on a long section of bulletin boards, so just stapled up. Paintings get heavy, so I stable all over to hold it up as we add the paint. I use Dick Blick Premium Tempera. It is my favorite, for the price, the colors are always perfect, it is always the perfect consistency. It goes a long way! I do add a little white to make sure the colors are opaque. I have done this on just tack strips before, I rolled the paper over twice and stapled it up to be strong enough to hold against the wall. I would use the stronger command strips in the middle too. They cost some money, but you would not need too many... just depends on the space you have. But I HIGHLY recommend it! Once of my favorite things to do each year!

  3. I have wanted to try creating a collaborative mural with my students, but wasn't sure how to start. My class time is limited to about 45 minutes as well. Thank you for sharing your preplanning as well as the progression of students working on the artwork. Very cool!

    1. It is way easier than you think... Being super organized helps. Before we go out in the hallway, I give them "the talk". I explain collaboration is one person's vision, and everyone works towards the same common goal. I also add that only mature, serious students are allowed to do this, the minute someone sounds silly, they have to sit against the wall and watch. They all want to paint so bad, they all behave! I have had a few in the past that could not handle it, but in recent years, no real problems. I let them take off shoes, (and socks! or socks get paint on them), and then we use wipes to clean any paint off the bottom of feet.

      To keep the quality high, I demonstrate taking a paint cup, pulling the brush out, wiping all the paint off so it will not be drippy. Then dip the tip in, OUTLINE the shape, even the smallest shape, and paint in. You will learn after the first time what to do and not do the next time!

      We are in the hallway...20-30 minutes depending on size of class or what I feel is needed for clean up. You can't believe how fast it gets painted in! Once all classes have had a chance to paint, I have a few super skilled students will come in for recess a couple times to fix anything that got out of hand, or re-outline any sloppy areas. I hope you are able to do one, you will become addicted! :)

  4. Love this project. Wonderful colors :)

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