Painting murals on my new canvas

I’ve been wearing a new hat for the past month and a half, and one that has always been close to my heart: that of a teacher.

My family now runs a preschool, with me at the helm.  We’ve been elated at the wide possibilities ahead and also overwhelmed by the new responsibilities that come with them.

I’ve taught on a number of occasions before, and those close to me know that I am a frustrated Waldorf mom (only because I have yet to be a mom!).  This new development on my personal path is resonating quite loudly.  I feel the volume of work ahead, but it is strangely comforting in its demands.  Is this what it means to be on my Christ year at age 33?

One of the main tasks I gave myself the past two weeks was to clear the space (physical, psychic, intellectual) for the school and lay down my mark in some tangible way, much like how I’ve blessed and dedicated other places sacred to me: my first home and my working studio.

I took out my brushes for the first time since art school ended in March, and went for the blank walls in the preschool lobby and bathrooms.

Been working on murals for a preschool for the past 3 days. Apart from my aching feet and arms (12 hours of standing, bending and reaching up each day!), my struggle is the same: I take too long to decide on what to paint. It doesn't help that I haven't d

I wrote on May 25:

Been working on murals for a preschool for the past 3 days. Apart from my aching feet and arms (12 hours of standing, bending and reaching up each day!), my struggle is the same: I take too long to decide on what to paint. It doesn’t help that I haven’t drawn/painted since summer break 2 months ago — but wow what a project to reignite the creative rhythm. I think a mural is much like an installation piece — the canvas or ground for the work is a physical space, and there are so many visual elements with which the mural interacts within this space. There are existing murals at the school, and I needed to think of pieces that would be synergistic.

#mural #preschool #children #creativeplanning

Giraffe Mural

It was difficult to compose a painting around a very prominent and immovable fence. I went over 30 children’s books for inspiration and decided to go with animals. The school uses a giraffe in its logo so I thought it would be nice to give it more visual presence in the welcome area/playground.

#giraffe #mural #school

Mice on the wall

Mural#2 on the adjacent wall: inspired by Leo Lionni’s mice. I finished the giraffe wall in a day so I got ambitious with this next one. There were many lessons learned yesterday.

Lesson#1: Murals need to be planned! No room for intuitive painting here, if only to save paint and effort. I got carried away in the morning and slathered yellow paint on the background, which actually took longer than expected [to cover]. The mice were the first elements I drew in, and the rooster I added later. Bad idea. The image got too crowded and I felt stuck.

Lesson#2: Don’t eat up negative space. I relented and decided the only way forward was to “erase” the rooster and sun. Doing a reset on a big wall is no joke.

Still needs finishing touches…maybe mountains or a house for perspective. My brother suggested a hot air balloon on the right corner. What do you think? 🙂

Mural#3: Fishes in the bathroom. I just found them cute. Inspired by Eric Carle's Rooster's Off to See the World.   #mural #preschool #bathroom #fish

Mural#3: Fishes in the bathroom. I just found them cute. Inspired by Eric Carle’s Rooster’s Off to See the World.

#mural #preschool #bathroom #fish

The chicken that was an alligator!

My favorite so far: Mural#4 on the kinder bathroom walls, showing scenes from Leo Lionni’s An Extraordinary Egg. I loved this book when I first read it and really wanted to use elements from it. Since the bathroom had 4 walls I could actually paint a mural narrative. Took me 6 hours to finish– I wanted to get the character design right. I hope the kids enjoy their bathroom visits more from now on! As for me, it’s time to rest. :p Good night everyone!

#mural #preschool #children#bathroom #frog #alligator #leolionni

* * *

There are many aspects to learn in educating young children, but I put a premium on approaching it with the same loving intensity I give to art-making. I’ve been talking about process in my art for a good while, and how it is just as important as outcome or result, and I hope to sustain this mindfulness in delivering both, in equal measure, to our school’s kids, their parents and families, our teachers and staff. I’ve been asking for a community — here is a thriving, immediate and open one that has already started wrapping me around its fingers.

Is this an uh-oh for my art? We shall see.  The optimist in me says I can wear both hats simultaneously.  And that simultaneously nurturing an educator’s heart will inform and strengthen my art.

A good friend once told me never to back down from work because I feel scared to leave it when the call comes to move on.  Someone will pick up the work.  Always.

Is it too early in the game to be talking about moving on?  I think it’s more truthful to work under no assumption of forever — everything flows, whether good or bad.  It takes courage (and humility) to commit to new things this way: wholly present, todo bigay, now na.

If any of you wish to collaborate on early childhood education (anything from teaching and parenting, children’s health and fitness, to toys, field trips and outreach, etc.), let me know! One of the possibilities I intend to explore is to engage people in conversation about education today (emphasis on today — relevance, context, responsiveness, effectiveness).

🙂

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