Thursday, October 12, 2017


junk mail, gesso, watercolor,  & Sharpies

Famous last words, right?
Wanting to please our new Principal ,
John Briquelet,
I gladly told him I'd have my Intermediate 2-D art kids do a mural on one of the walls
 in the new student union building for him,
 the new idea he was hoping for.
I had to figure a spot large enough to put it into
inside my already tightly packed Tentative Schedule. 
1st Quarter Final,
which was to be their Junk Mail Book,
 was the only place I could work it into,
So I renamed it the Junk Mail Mural.
 as an artist, 
I have never enjoyed working on assignments together with others.
There is always a slacker,
and then there are the procrastinators.
I used to get too anxious that we wouldn't finish on time.
Not for me.
But I had faith in this Intermediate group that they just might be able to pull it off.
To please the new Principal...
Let's see how it worked out.
We had six kids in this group,
5 seniors and 1 junior.
All of them wanting to be art majors of some sort.
Now we needed a thumb nail design to work from and I wanted it to be an original student design.
For homework I had them all draw up a couple of ideas then they voted on their favorite.
Senior Malaya Sithichai's was chosen of a sweet little astronaut floating in space.
Now the fun begins!

Above are the kids spreading out all my junk mail from the last year I had saved for them.
A ridiculous amount!
Each student picked one favorite visually pleasing piece first,
then auditioned it next to all the others they picked for Visual Flow
(color scheme, text, envelops).
Next they divided up the wall in 6 equal vertical sections,
then lotteried off each section to make it fair.
Can you see the pencil lines?
The wall we chose was small and narrow as you can see,
we didn't want to overextend ourselves.
Next each student had their own brayer that they used to roll on  "YES" glue
onto the back of each junk mail piece to attach to the wall
(we experimented with many glues,
and this one was the strongest to attach those thick mailers with).

Look at those cuties go!

Almost done with this portion.
Honestly I kinda like it just like that.
Could we have called it done at that point???????????
For me personally,
Notice the visual flow thru each vertical section??
Kinda feels like a rainbow effect.
Next came the gesso over top the junk mail.
Two things were not quite working.
When we build the books 
they were required to have at least on piece of mail that opened up like a flap.
We tried it on the wall but it seemed a little too much.
the kids over applied the gesso too thickly and not enough of the mail parts were showing.
What to do?
We ripped off several of the flaps to calm down the distraction,
and I had them sand off some of the gesso.
much better.
Up close.

Next came the watercolor.
Each student chose a color scheme to work in and lightly brushed watercolor over the gesso areas.
What I forgot to take a pix of was what that looked like before the Sharpie drawing was applied.

It didn't look good at first 
because the color schemes were so different and created a hard edge separation.
So then I made the kids go back and overlap their watercolored section edges
 and use a wet sponge to blend them.

Next came using the overhead projector to enlarge Malaya's image,
and each kiddo had a Sharpie to draw over the design lines.
More gesso was then added into areas that needed popping
 like the astronaut and his safety line,
and all the little twinkling stars,
and of course the planets.
Pattern that reads as texture from a distance was added with a Sharpie as well.
Used to be called doodling now is called Zentangling.
You can see that better in the pix below.

Here is the gang standing in front of each of their sections.
From left to right we have Ayesha, Eileen, Kevin, Malaya, Jazzarie, and Samantha.
And sadly below we have the chairs back in place that belong in front of it.

And it wouldn't be complete without their signatures.
We have Senior Ayesha Durrani,

Senior Eileen Lee,

Senior Kevin Ma,

Senior Malaya Sithichai,

Senior Jazzarie Lo,

and Junior Samantha Tun.

What I totally forgot to mention in the post 
is that it took almost the full school year to completely finish it.
Much of that extra time was taken away from their regular class assignments.  :(
So I really admire their sticktuative-ness in bringing this mural to fruition.

What a wonderful legacy these children are leaving behind
at a school they spent 6 years of their lives at,
their Alma Meter,
Whitney High School.


  1. I totally wish you were my granddaughters art teacher...

    1. Wow Tina, what a wonderful compliment. Thank you for that!

  2. a HUGE undertaking and the stamina to work it through...Love
    reading this, so much....thank you and thank you to Them!

    1. I will pass on your message to them Grace, thank you!

  3. I was gazing at some accumulated paper recently ... wondering if I would ever have the gumption to do something with it. As always, you and your students are an inspiration and I've filed this post away for future consideration.

    1. The gessoing over the junk mail leaves such beautiful textural marks. I hope you give it a try Liz!

  4. This is Wonderful! Kudos to you and your students!