As someone who loves art, I was absolutely honoured (and a little nervous) when the headteacher of my daughters’ school asked me to create an outside mural. I’ve painted pictures for as long as I can remember but I couldn’t help being anxious about whether I could pull off something of that size. I was certainly up for the challenge though, so the planning and painting began.
The idea was to tie in the design of the wall with the school’s garden area and field. Being a village school, it is very fortunate to be surrounded by greenery and nature and I was excited to incorporate that so I decided that a floral scene would fit in perfectly. I used Photoshop to create a basic mock up, featuring sunflowers, echinacea, poppies and daisies, all of varying heights. Once I was happy with that and had received the go ahead from the head teacher, it was time to start on the wall.
The wall in question was cream to begin with so, after a wash down using water and sugar soap, I was able (with the help of my very kind husband!) to paint a background of beautiful pale blue, to provide the backdrop for the scene. I used Granocryl Masonry Paint by Leyland in Spray Blue. It took three coats in total, but the finish was just right.
Next, I set about drawing the flowers on the wall. My idea was that the transition from cream to blue on each side would be covered by tall sunflowers, with a variety of slightly smaller flowers in between.
Painting the flowers and plants itself was so much fun and was something that the Year 6 children were also able to get involved with. After a lot of research I had decided that acrylic paints would be the best to use for the mural. The colours are so vibrant, it’s easy to create texture (for example by using a cork to dab the paint into the middle of the sunflowers) and the paints are pretty forgiving - if you make a mistake, just wait for the paint to dry and then paint over it! After drawing and painting the initial sunflowers and echinacea, the children and I filled in any remaining gaps with daisies, poppies and foxgloves (boy, were the foxgloves tricky to paint!). There may also have been a few wayward finger prints/smudges which may or may not have been disguised with a few carefully placed butterflies!
As well as the flowers, each child in Year 6 painted their own little bee somewhere in the scene. I love the idea that their bees will remain on the wall after they’ve moved on to secondary school, as a lovely reminder of their time in primary school. In addition to that, every child that was present in school on the final day of painting came to add their finger print to the middle of the sunflowers. Explaining that their finger print was going to stay on the wall for years to come was so exciting - I loved seeing the looks on their faces!
It was really important that the school values were included in the mural and I decided that they’d work well as the trails left by the bees. To create the wording I used Posca pens - I just love the flow of the pens and how crisp the font looks. Finally happy with the whole design, it was time to move on to varnishing.
After all our hard work painting the beautiful scene, varnishing the wall to preserve the mural was a must. However, I’ve had experiences in the past of varnish smudging Posca pens and certainly did NOT want it to happen here…can you imagine?!! Thankfully I happened to have some Rustoleum Laquer spray. Once the Posca pen writing had dried I gave it a light spray of the laquer and left it overnight to dry fully.
The next day, I was able to varnish over the whole wall and guess what…no smudging from the Posca writing! Massive sigh of relief and little happy dance while nobody was looking! On went two coats of Rustins Quick Dry Outdoor Varnish (leaving four hours in between each coat). It went on beautifully and provided the perfect finish.
Finally, it was time to sit back and admire our hard work. I’m so honoured to have been asked to create this mural, and over the moon at how bright and cheerful it turned out. I hope that children, school staff and parents are able to enjoy the art that we have made for years and years to come.