Monthly Mentor

Shelly Breaux (December)
Each month, a different member and NAEA awardee is the guest writer for the NAEA Monthly Mentor Blog. Shelly Breaux established the Art Program at David Thibodaux STEM Magnet Academy in Lafayette, LA. In her classroom, Breaux focuses on inquiry-based learning, problem solving, collaboration, conceptual thinking, and constructive criticism. She believes in using art as an educational tool, and that art provides her students with a voice and an outlet. Click "GO" to read her full bio.



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August 16, 2018

Mural Making: Pride of Place

From Don Masse

Which wall provides more visual impact and joy for your students?

Screen Shot 2018-08-16 at 10.51.20 AM

Screen Shot 2018-08-16 at 10.51.27 AM

Hopefully, you chose the second image!

Across the world, it seems that there is a much deserved rise in recognition of murals in public places, bringing art and inspiration to the masses. Murals create conversations and bring a renewed sense of purpose and pride to the communities that they are created in and with. Murals on school grounds can reinvigorate a sense of school pride and provide students opportunities to leave a lasting, positive mark on their campus.

At Zamorano, we have had an active mural program for the past 10 years. Every year, all of our 5th graders participate in an end of the year legacy mural project. Since it’s inception, this program has been something that students look forward to participating in. In recent years, we have also worked with local artists to add additional murals to our school campus as well.

If your school does not have an active mural program, I highly encourage you to get one off the ground. This post outlines a few of the steps involved to add color and community to your school campus.

1- Create interest. Gather examples of murals at other schools and/or places to share with your  administration and school staff to activate support for the project.

2- Find a suitable location on campus. It should be visible and accessible for people to work on and then view. Be careful about making it too accessible, though. At Zamorano, we did one on a wall that is around the corner from a bathroom where young students line up after recess and the mural has not aged well due to feet and bodies coming in contact with the wall on a daily basis. As part of this step, take note of the nature of the wall surface- interior/exterior, smooth/textured, concrete/wood, etc.

3- Develop a plan for the design of the mural. This could take different forms. It could be a lead artist/teacher on site developing a concept and design. It could be put together by a small team of creatives on site that seeks out staff and community input in the ideation stage. It could be a student designed concept that focuses on attributes of the school. It could be designed by a local artist who specializes in murals and this artist works with the school community in the development of the concept. Really, this process comes down to being aware of the school community’s strengths and capabilities in terms of collaboration and visual design. No matter what approach your school takes, there should be some level of collaboration, so that members of the school community feel included and respected.

4- Secure funding for paint supplies and materials. This could come from an art department budget, ptf support, donations from companies whose products you will use, writing a grant, or creating a fundraising campaign through the likes of gofundme or donorschoose.

5- Based on the size and surface of the wall, secure enough paint to make it happen. When planning our annual mural budget, I estimate $300 to cover walls approximately 9’x25’. We use stiff bristle brushes that range from 1/4” to 1” primarily for painting. Purchasing a bundle of those was about $100 years ago. Since all of our murals are outside in the SoCal sun, we have learned to use exterior semigloss latex house paint. Depending on your schools location and climate, you may use different types of paint, but we have found house paint works quite well and lasts quite a while.

6- Managing the drawing of the design on the wall. Depending on your approach to design development, the drawing may be done by an individual mural leader or with a small team. How you go about drawing, is again, dependent on school capacity. It could be drawn freehand, done with a grid method, or with the assistance of a projector. After drawing the mural out, I have found it extremely helpful to trace the lines with a sharpie marker, so that they are more visible to the painters and they hold up to unexpected weather conditions.

7- Painting the mural. Again, this may be approached in a variety of ways, depending on your individual school site. At Zamorano, I am fortunate enough to work with the 5th graders for a week at the end of the year- working with small groups for 20-30 minutes at a time. You or another school community art leader may be able to do something similar. It could be created on a school beautification day or days. It could be done in stages throughout the school year with different groups contributing at different times.

8- Celebrate! When the mural is finished, celebrate the experience somehow. You could do a community unveiling, a gallery walk with your art classes, invite school district officials to your site, and promote the experience through social media.

9- Reflect and plan to do it again!

- DM

Image above is our completed 2016 mural that used the 3 elements of our “Zamorano Way” as inspiration

September article in Arts & Activities on mural that local artist Monty Montgomery led at Zamorano last spring:

Gofundme page for the Monty Montgomery project:

Blog post documenting our 2016 mural, including a time lapse video:


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