A Movable Mural

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:
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Gathering Supplies
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 our local 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 our local Home Depot Canada [at Gerrard Square] 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. Our shop did not have any rejected/returned paints or we would have been on those like flies! In any case, the kids had a great time mulling through the paint chips at the Home Depot 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 around the rest of the 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:
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Painting Day!
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:
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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:
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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:
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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
Praint Brushes
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 Latex 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 exterior paint and 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.20120827-210212.jpg

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