I always enjoy creating murals with school and community projects. There’s such a lot to get your teeth into.
Firstly there’s the challenge of working on a big scale; most children rarely work on anything bigger than A2, and to suddenly be told that they have to cover a whole playground wall is daunting and thrilling. And because it’s such a big task you have to make it clear from the start that this is a team effort and everybody has to focus on the end goal.
Next is the challenge of realising that a big project needs a lot of research into the subject matter, and that the final aim is to make one large coherent design not a scattering of unrelated images. There’s a lot to do, which means it’s a very good way of involving a large number of children in a given session, unlike mosaic where you can only have so many hands working at the same time. In effect a large mural is a series of projects within a project, and I often break up a class so that it feels like a little factory unit, with one team employed collecting subject matter, one team drawing, one team scaling up drawings, and a final team doing the painting, before they all rotate around.
Above all, and I always hope that this is one thing that I impress on children, a good mural depends on creating a design that will look strong and clear from a distance, and to achieve this you have to do lots of drawing and never accept the first idea you come up with.
Lots of paper, lots of drawing, and no fear of making mistakes!