My primary area of expertise in a residency or workshop environment is large scale, figurative/landscape mural painting. My background as an itinerant circus and carnival “showpainter” and traveling professional muralist has given me a great deal of experience with techniques for painting large scale work.
Since mural work often involves a montage of subjects in a single picture plane, I encourage student artists to pool ideas into a collage of experience, helping to clarify a larger theme. Techniques for enlarging, patterning and transferring are employed, as well as demonstrations in acrylic paint mixing, blending and brush use.
My preferred method of working involves making murals on 4 X 8 ft. sheets of shaded and primed Masonite paneling. These individual sheets can be easily combined to create murals of various sizes. This material makes it possible to paint with the panel propped up or laid on a table. This also maximizes the amount of painting surface available to student artists who are sharing equipment and need personal space.
Murals mounted on the wall in a public area can be given a protective coating of clear varnish or polyurethane to help prevent some of the usual wear and tear. The mural panel format also provides a way for it to be moved more easily if a change in location is desired.
During my mural painting residencies, I prefer to work with smaller groups of students whenever possible. This is especially true at elementary and middle school sites. The types of skills emphasized in my mural classes need the one-on-one instruction that comes from smaller groups of 6 or less.
If a core group involves a whole class and includes 20-30 students, I encourage the teacher to break up the groups and stagger their contact with me. Non-core students can be shown certain demonstrations, slide presentations and explanations of painting procedures, while the core groups can be given individual painting instruction and personal help with technique and materials.
High school students can be broken into smaller groups and still work together in the class. If a mural on Masonite has several panels, these smaller groups can be spread out in the classroom and assigned certain sections of the mural to design and paint to completion.
During a mural residency I use scheduled non-core activity time to visit classrooms for my talks and demonstrations, encourage classroom groups to visit the mural site for walk-throughs and arrange for any community outreach activity or presentation. I encourage residency sites to maximize the amount of core group painting time. At least three hours per day is required to facilitate the completion of an average mural project.
I approach a mural site and core group from a perspective of co-creation and shared experience. The completed mural reflects the goals of both combined ideas and individual talents, melded to create a statement of greater relevancy.
Glen C. Davies/ Muralist