This is the little mural on the garden shed at Mountain School. It is an ode to the chickens, Poppy, Tallulah and Marie. The outlines of the venerable ladies are based on Chloe’s chicken drawings from a few years ago. Since Seth and I did summer school this year, we took advantage of a warm summer day to bring permanent paint to school with us. We drew outlines of the chickens with chalk and let all the kids paint them however they wanted.
The great thing about letting the kids paint was that the design of the colors was uninhibited. If I was to sit down and fill in the spaces, it would not be nearly as cool. I came back later and used light washes of color to smooth all the sections together. This way it retained the kid painted feel, but allowed me to blend a bit and darken where white paint would go. The last step was for me to paint on the white chicken outlines.
Seth gave me the idea that the children could paint the chicken mural themselves. The summer before last Seth helped me paint the mural in the bathroom hallway. The main parts of the mural were painted in chalkboard paint, but Seth painted all of the colored sections. He actually got up on the ladder on a hot August afternoon and painted the tree and everything. When children paint something their touch adds a sense of whimsy and the unexpected. Although they are serious about painting, their strokes add a sense of energy that I love.
Our three fours class was the inspiration for the mural. First off Seth was / is really into drawing with black on white. I think the sense of contrast is appealing to him. The hallway is rather dark and dingy anyway, so the contrasty black sort of makes a crisp statement. Secondly the kids loved having Teacher Laura measure them. This was the inspiration for the measuring tree. The chalkboard paint was sort of an academic theory. But it was based on the premise that at this age kids like to draw on walls, furniture and in other inappropriate spaces. I thought it would be cool to have walls at school that you could draw on, so that there would be a designated place in a mountainschooler’s life where they could “tag” things and not get in trouble.
For years this quote had been printed on eight and a half by eleven paper and pinned up in the main room. One day Aimee was musing that we should paint the quote in big letters across the top of the wall below the ceiling so that parents could have something to “inspire” them while they composed their observations. This gave me the idea to paint the Sartre quote on the bathroom door (yes his name is misspelled, but I did return with a sharpie and added a carrot with the extra r). Often times I find parents standing in this grimy hall way because their kids have asked them to wait outside-but-not-leave while they use the potty. Why not take advantage of this idle time to hit parents over the head with early childhood propaganda.
I like the markings that started to appear over the year. It looks to me as if older kids have been here writing and drawing too. The beauty of chalk is that it wipes off with a wet towel, leaving the hallway ready for the next year.