Mural design workshops with Rebecca Graves, 3/3/11 and 3/10/11

What does it take to turn an ordinary school cafeteria into a visually stimulating environment? According to decorative painter and Smack Mellon board member Rebecca Graves, all you really need is pattern samples, adobe photoshop, a projector, and paint…and a talented design team.

Measuring the empty walls of the cafeteria at Metropolitan Corporate Academy, to create a scale drawing for the mural.

For the past two weeks,  Rebecca has been working with such a team, of  Art Ready students from past and present years, and former Smack Mellon Summer Arts Intensive students, to create an original decorative mural for Metropolitan Corporate Academy (MCA). MCA is a small public high school in Downtown Brooklyn where several Art Ready students attend. The mural will be painted by students and other community members over two Saturdays, March 19 and 26.

Students help measure

Rebecca demonstrates how to use an architectural scale ruler to create the scale drawing

In these design workshops, Rebecca taught participants each step of the mural process–starting with measuring the cafeteria walls and making scale drawings with architectural rulers. The first workshop was mainly dedicated to selecting students’ favorite patterns from Rebecca’s volumes of books of different ethnically-inspired designs, with the goal of ultimately combining several into one unified mural.

Choosing images from Rebecca's multicultural pattern books. These patterns are all in the public domain; thus anyone can use them for murals without violating copyright. Most books come with CDs to upload the pattern images directly to a computer.

At the end of the workshop we discussed the relative merits of participants’ different pattern selections: some designs were too complicated to be painted over only two days, especially ones with too many straight edges, which are naturally more difficult than curvy lines. Some were too feminine or old-fashioned-looking for a co-ed, urban school. The design had to look good against the existing blue color of the walls, since we were not going to be able to re-paint the entire room. Everyone in the group seemed to gravitate towards including animals, and elements that suggest their surrounding environments.

The group discusses the different pattern choices

At the second workshop, Rebecca brought in her computer with a few different possible mural designs she had begun, based on different combinations of the students’ favorite patterns. These included an African motif and a Japanese motif. They had been generated in Photoshop by collaging jpg files of the patterns onto Rebecca’s photos of the cafeteria walls.

The group discusses different possible mural designs Rebecca had put together on her computer

We liked this African-style pattern best, but thought the colors could be spruced up a bit...

After some discussion, the group decided on the African motif with its freestyle lines and quirky, playful animals as the favorite design of the bunch. We tweaked the colors and wall placement in photoshop. We had to still make sure the amount of painting would be do-able in just two Saturdays so we realized we had to cut some of the background pattern to leave some patches of plain blue on the wall.

The group decided on this brighter, bolder color scheme with different animals interspersed in different parts of the wall

Rebecca completed the final design after the workshop, and emailed the design team and school for final feedback. These images will be projected, traced, and painted onto the walls over the next two Saturdays.

Please visit the November 10, 2010 Art Ready Blog Entry for more information on Rebecca Graves’ decorative painting work, and her past Art Ready mural project in 2008 at St. Joseph High School.

Preview sketches of the final mural


About smartready

Mentorship Program Manager, Smack Mellon
This entry was posted in Graphic/Commerical Design, Painting/Drawing. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Mural design workshops with Rebecca Graves, 3/3/11 and 3/10/11

  1. Pingback: Mural Painting session with Rebecca Graves, 3/19/11 | Smack Mellon Art Ready

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s