This weekend, we finished Our Big Summer Project – Our Outdoor Mural!
Here’s how we got from point B to point Z, with a DIY recap at the very bottom of the page.
Generating the Final Design
Come up with a final sketch (or use an existing image) and print it in both colour and black and white. Earlier this summer, I chronicled the kids’ first attempts to sketch for a planned outdoor (see Outdoor Mural Phase One: Sketching from our Favourite Artists). Drawing on those projects, particularly their imitations of abstracts and of the African masks owned by Henry Moore, the kids continued to sketch throughout the summer. On a trip to Ottawa last week, the kids fell in love with the totem poles in the Museum of Civilization. So, working with their father, the kids came up with a design [drawn within in a rectangle of a ratio of 2w:3h] that incoporated the faces on the masks they’d drawn in a totem pole structure. They also used some of the “abstract” concepts they’d picked up from the other artists they’d sketched to come up with a simple but striking background of leaf-like geometrical objects. Once a Master Design was in place, we scanned it into the computer and printed it out in black and white [to use as a colouring page].
Original Designs, Master Design and a Scanned Black and White Copy of the Master Design:
Measure space. Cut MDO or Plywood to size. Purchase exterior paints and painting tools.
A few weeks ago, my husband and I measured the back of the garden and decided upon the size of mural we would like to place against the back fence. We wanted a 4 foot wide by 6 foot high mural [corresponding to the ratio of 2:3 we'd given the children to sketch within], so we went to Danforth Lumber and asked for 4×8 MDO panel to be cut to size. [MDO is board that is often used in sign-making. Plywood works just as well.] We took home both the 4×6 and the 4×2 panels and set them up against a our shed in the backyard.
Then, this Saturday, with a colour printout of our final design in hand, we went to the paint section of a large, local hardware shop to choose our paints. We set a budget and decided that we could afford both 1 quart of exterior primer and 6 quarts of coloured exterior latex. [You probably need 1-2 quarts in total to complete a mural of this size, but most places won't mix less than a quart of paint per colour. Unfortunately, our shop did not have any rejected/returned paints or we would have been on those like flies!] The kids had a great time mulling through the paint chips and helping choose an array of colours to suit our needs. We came up with a palette of six CIL colours: Lake Simcoe, Shamrock, Kiwi Fun, Red Brick, Egyptian Earth, and, Sun Rays.
As the paints were being mixed, I ran off to the dollar store to pick up a wide array of paint brushes,plastic tarps, plastic cups for holding paint, hooks and latches to secure the board against the fence, and a box of coloured chalk. We came home that night and primed our wooden mural boards before bed.
Supplies and Priming:
Colouring our Master Designs, Chalking-Out and Painting the Mural
On Sunday morning, we got up early. We set the kids to work choosing the final colour placement for our mural. We asked them to pick out a crayon or coloured pencil closest to each of the six paint colours we’d chosen at the store. Then, they filled in the black-and-white copies of the mural design with their “suggested” layout. Together, we conferenced and filled out a third colouring sheet with the final colour placement. We taped this final design to the shed near where we were working to us as a reference for our painting.
Colouring the Black & White Copy of the Master Design:
Meanwhile, my husband spent time laying out the basic design in chalk on the primed panel. First, he chalked a grid of rectangles in light yellow on the panel that corresponded to a grid he had drawn in pencil over the printout of our final mural design. Then, he sketched the outlines of the figures onto the panel in a medium coloured chalk. Bea joined in from time to time to lend an expert hand. Finally, when he’d gotten the drawing the way he liked it, he re-traced that final design with a darker chalk.
Chalking-in the Master Design on the Primed Panel:
Then, we got to painting! We set the panel on the ground on top of several tarps. We had each kid work with one colour at a time, pouring a small amount of paint into a plastic tub for them to use. Before the kids would paint a certain area, my husband and I would spend time outlining the edges of those areas with fine brushes [smaller than 1 inch]. Then, the kids filled in the outlined areas with their own brushes [1-1.5 inches]. We kept a cloth around to clean up the dribbles. The project took several hours. We made sure to take water breaks and to order a few very large pizzas to keep us going! As evening drew on, we stood the finished mural up against the garden shed and applied some finishing touches. This morning, we attached hooks to the sides of the panel and latches tot he back fence so taht we could latch the panel to the back fence to keep it from falling in the wind. Still, it will be easy to move around the garden any time!
Painting the Mural:
The Finished Mural!
Below, you’ll find a basic DIY!.
Creating a Movable Outdoor Mural - A Brief DIY:
MDO or plywood cut to the size of your choosing
Paint Roller [Optional]
Outdoor Acrylic Latex Primer [Optional]
Outdoor Acrylic Latex Paints [3-6 quarts in colours of your choosing]
A Sketch or Printout of the Artwork You Will Paint – We call this the “Master Design”
[The Master Design need not be your own artwork...feel free to copy whatver you like!]
Computer, Scanner & Printer
Coloured Pencils, Crayons or Markers
Tarps or dropcloths
Prime the MDO or plywood with Outdoor Acrylic Latext Primer [Optional]
Scan your Master Design into a Computer
Crop or resize the image so that it corresponds in width and height to your wooden panel.
Print this image once in colour [optional] and several times in black-and-white.
With coloured pencils or crayons that match the 3-6 colours of paint you’ve chosen, fill in your black-and-white colouring page to your liking.
Divide another printout of the Master Design into squares or rectangles in a grid-like pattern.
Tape the gridded-image onto a fence or wall near your wooden panel.
Using a light coloured chalk, divide the MDO/Plywood panel into a grid with an equal number of squares or rectangles as in your Master Design.
With the grid as your guide, draw your Master Image onto the panel using a medium coloured chalk.
When you are happy with the image, colour over that medium coloured chalk with dark coloured chalk [optional].
Lay the mural panel down on a tarp.
Tape the coloured-in image of the Master Design on a wall near your workspace to use as a guide.
Outline the edges of each section of colour in the mural using a fine paint brush.
Fill in the outlines using a finer or thicker brush to suit.
Return the board to an upright position to add your final touchups and let dry.
If desired, attach hooks to each side of the wooden panel and secure against a wall or fence with latches attached to that wall or fence._______________________
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Summer of Funner : The Lunchbox Season : In Defense of Burning
Several years ago, decades ago, as the case may be, my husband and his parents painted an outdoor mural on a piece of plywood and installed it at the back left-hand corner of their garden. Whenever I even think of going over to their house, this is the image that comes to mind: a large face or mask, somewhat similar to one of the great Moai of Easter Island. I’m sentimental about it. I am sure we all are. So, this summer, we decided to paint a large outdoor mural on a piece of plywood and “install” it in our own garden, both as an homage to that first painting and as a newly-beloved object of our own.
The first step has been to come up with an idea of what to paint!
So far, we’ve got four general threads going:
1) Some sort of “tree” related mural to memorialize the very large, very beautiful cherry tree that used to stand in our back yard. (Just now, its final blooms are pictured on the header to this journal.) Just this spring, our 60+-year-old beauty, in full bloom, was taken up by the roots in a gust of wind and crashed down across our fence and into our neighbours’ back yards. No one was injured, thankfully. Although, it caused some interesting neighbourly drama that has been a learning experience for us all. In any case, we miss our tree most terribly!
2) An image of the female lamplighters painted by Paul Delvaux. I have been dying to do this for years, and it will be done regardless of whether it happens in the form of this particular mural or as one of my own.
3) A figure, face, or mask not unlike our inspiration piece across town.
4) A favourite animal.
Over the past few days, the kids have been looking at books featuring the work of some of their favourite artists.
Today, we spent time copying, imitating, and, generally, drawing inspiration from those works towards a design of their own.
Here’s the pile of books they chose to sketch from today. If you are looking to do something similar and if you don’t have anything on hand, it would be easy enough to choose library books:
Klee, A Study of his Life and Work, by Gualtieri di San Lazzaro, New York: Praeger 1957.
Stuart Davis, The Great American Artists Series, by E. G. Cossen, New York: Braziller, 1959.
Henry Moore, My Ideas, Inspiration and Life as an Artist, by Henry Moore & John Hedgecoe. London: Collins and Brown, 1999.
Ancient Egypt, Kingdom of the Pharoahs, by R. Hamilton. Bath: Parragon, 2005.
The Imperial Collection of Audubon Animals, Ed. Victor H. Cahalane. New York: Bonanza.
The World of Henri Rousseau, by Yann le Pichon. New York: Viking, 1982.
And here are the completed sketches beside their inspiration pieces!
Snake. Inspired by Stuart Davis. Still Life with Saw. 1930.
The Tiny Chipmuk. Inspired by Audubon. Colorado Chipmunk.
Marmot Marmot. Inspired by Audubon. Yellow-Bellied Marmot.
The Snake Who Only Reads. Inspired by a page from Ancient Egypt.
The Mask of Strangeness. Inspired by a wooden African mask from Henry Moore’s collection.
“Ah Never Mind!” The Treadmill’s Not Working! Inspiration: The 2012 Olympics.
London with Lights. Inspired by Paul Klee. Town with Watchtowers. 1929.
The Old Tree. Inspired by the landscape that inspired Henry Moore. A tree in the Adel Woods.
Egyptian with Knife and Toy. Inspired by a Relief from the White Chapel of Senusret I at Karnak.
The Mask. Inspired by a wooden African mask in Henry Moore’s collection.
Jaguar. Inspired by Henri Rousseau. Negro Attached by a Jaguar.
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Summer of Funner : The Lunchbox Season : In Defense of Burning
- SUMMER OF FUNNER 2013
- The Lunchbox Season is Back
- Summer of Funner 2012 Film Festival
- Peach Day! Amaretto Peach Jam, Brown Sugar Vanilla Jam, and Giant Peach Butter
- A Movable Mural
- The Imaginary Beasts of Riverdale Farm
- Mad Scientist Day 2012: Ten “Sweet” Experiments
- The Kids Make Street Eats (with Beer!): Pilsner Pretzels & Hops and Robbers Mustard
- Glam Cans 2012: Kid-Designed Canning Labels DIY
- Summer Activism 101: The Kids Investigate the Mega Quarry
- Book Cover Re-design for Kids: Workshop I, Zeppelin Poems
- Knappa Loves Melodi: The Easiest Ikea Hack Ever
- Contractor Cookies [and Bathroom Pics]
- First Communion Fun
- Saying “Thank You”
- DIY Cookie Cutters: The Zeppelin Edition
- Book Fan Shirts
- Making the Movie Monster Video
- The Vanities of the Leaked-Upon
- MARCH breACK! 2013: Spirit Bear Stick Puppets and Finger-Walking Bear Puppets
So This Is Where the Club Meets!: Summer of Funner Categories
Check Out Our Theme Days!
- Chocolate Day
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- Crazy Fruit Day
- Cucumber Day
- Egg Day
- Jelly & Ice Cream Day
- Macaron Day
- Mad Science Day – Candy Experiments
- Make-it-Yourself Days
- Marshmallow Day
- Mural Days
- Peach Day
- Pizza Day
- Pomme Day [Apple & Potato Day]
- Protest Days
- The Day in Condiments [Mustard Relish and Jam]
- Sketch Day
- Soap Day
- Strawberry Day