Thursday, December 18, 2014

In the Art Room: A Legacy Mural

Hey, y'all! I'm super excited to share with you a project that my fourth graders started just last week when their certifiably insane art teacher decided that they outta create a present for the principals of our school. I've mentioned before that our school is participating in a Be Nice campaign. In the art room, I've been trying to post a weekly "Give Nice a Try" idea in my room each week. A coupla times, we've actually had the opportunity to make it happen in the art room. You can read about how we wrote Thank You notes to a local art museum after our field trip, created a Gallery of Gratitude for all the faculty and staff in the school and wrote kind notes to each other. This time, our Give Nice a Try was to give a gift (especially during the season when most kids are thinking about receiving). And this here Legacy Mural is the result of their hard work.
I got the idea for this mural at NAEA during a presentation by Janine Campbell (thanks, Janine! If you guys ever have a chance to see her present, do it, she's amazing). She had her middle school students paint on black canvases that she'd taped off the words ART onto. Then, when the kids were finished painting, she simply removed the tape. So smart, right? Well, being the crazy Last Minute Lassie that I am, I didn't bother with the masking bit. I just let the kids start attacking the black canvases with fluorescent paints.
Well, okay, "attacking" is a bit of a stretch. We kinda sorta did the whole circle painting thing. You know, paint circles and more circles and don't paint over anyone's circles but enhance them with more...wait for it...circles. I did give them the chance to enhance the designs with patterns and lines of their choice. I only had a coupla rules: 

1. Don't paint over anyone's design. You can build upon their painting but you cannot cover it up.

2. Paint on dry areas. Painting over wet areas will muddy your colors because they'll become mixed.

3. This is your legacy as the out-going fourth grade! Do your very best to leave your mark behind. 
At the end of four fourth grade classes working on 17 canvases for an hour at a time, we had this. It's like an acid trip on canvas. And I mean that in the best possible way. I'm dying to get my kitten mittens on a black light, y'all. 
 Oh! In case you are wondering, the black canvases came from Blick (are they just "Blick" now? Like, are the "Dick"less? [heehee, sorry, not sorry]) and the paint was by Sax. Because I'm now in love with Sax Versa Temp. It's my jam. 
The amazing bookkeeper at my school worked out the canvas dimensions and was able to scrap together enough dinero to purchase 'em. She also was kind enough to print off the lettering. I originally had the genius idea to have a sign company print the letters. Then I could just slap 'em on top. However, that was gonna cost us well over a hundred smacks. Plan B was to use the printed letters. After the kids had completed the canvases, I traced the letters in yellow chalk and painted them in with India ink. 
Obviously, it woulda been swell to have the kids paint the letters but I was in a time crunch. In fact, these letters were painted just last night. I did notice that the India ink was cracking on the surface in some spots so I sealed it with high gloss ModPodge. The happy accident there was that it gave the letters a great shine.
 This morning, I got to school at the crack of dawn to hang the letters. My BFF the custodian helped out tremendously. Because this was a surprise to be revealed at the end of the day, he and I "wrapped" the present so the principals wouldn't see it until the unveiling.
During the unveiling time, I had all fourth grade classes gather in the lobby. The wrapping paper was removed and the principals were escorted out blindfolded. On the count of three, the blindfolds were removed, the kids shouted Merry Christmas! and the principals saw this.
To hang next to the mural will be this small golden sign. This was wrapped and given to the principals after the unveiling.

It was a super exciting event, albeit a very crazy and noisy one. I don't do well with managing a crowd of over a hundred kids so it was a pinch cray but a happy kinda cray. 

And now on to the winner of yesterday's giveaway...

Yippie, Rachelle! I'll be in touch so I can ship that stash your way!

And now...for today's goodness...
Four whole rolls of paint-splattered duck tape! Here's how you can enter to win:

1. Leave your email in the comments.

2. If you are an art teacher, I wanna know, what's been your fave group project to do with the kids?

3. Not an art teacher? Tell me what you plan to create with this tape stash!

Good luck and I'll see you with another giveaway tomorrow!

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  1. I LOVE this idea!! What a great project for 4th graders! What sizes of canvas did you use? I noticed you have two different sizes, so I wasn't sure how they compared! And how did you hang them on the wall?? Thank you for your inspiration!

  2. Hey Cassie, super cool mural. Is your contest open to Canadians? (please say yes!) My fav group projects are these giant splatter paintings I do with my summer art camp kids where they get to pop paint filled balloons.

    1. Of course! I'll throw your name in the paint can ;)

    2. One of my favorite projects was making a large mural out of old crayons. the kids had fun, it looked great and we recycled a lot of crayons that would have been trashed. Love your mural!

    3. Hi Cassie-
      I am not sure if you addressed the question about the size of the canvases? Thanks!

  3. Those letters look awesome! My favorite group project is stop motion animation (6th grade). My email is I scored that fantastic email address the very first day google opened up their beta version to the public over 10 years ago. I'm never giving it up (just in case anyone is jealous.) -Marsha

  4. I taught high school for 7 years and it's only my 2nd year at the elem level. So between all my years teaching, my fav project was the yearbook I made my last year. I taught yearbook for 4 years and the last one was the absolute best ever!! I went out on a good note. :)

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  7. This recent mural was WONDERFUL! However, we are working on a group installation that I think will be just as wonderful in the end. :) -kelly

  8. Hi cassie

    Just simply loved the 4th graders gift to the principals. Gorgeous!
    Ohh yeah. My email is

    Being in a position of hunting for the next teaching Gig for next fall, my time is spend learning new skills and media!! For this giveaway I planti learn how to make bags, wallets and other wearables with duck tape. 😁

    See ya

  9. Hi! I LOVE YOUR MURAL!! How thoughtful and awesome! Now I feel guilty I didn't do anything for my principal! ;) I'm an elementary art teacher from NE Florida- and I would love to use the duct tape to work on one of my new favorite fifth grade projects- The Art Robot! (scribble machine) :)

  10. Very "nice" and thoughtful (and creative, obvi) gift!

  11. The school mascot was an Indian so my 8th graders made 3 huge dream catchers on huls hoops and the hanging papery feathers had a hope or dream from one of the outgoing 8th graders. The custodian and I hung them in the entry way of the school. It was their swan song and mine as I was transferred due to furloughs from middle school to elementary right after they were hung.

  12. Opps.

  13. My favorite group project I did so far, Is a 1,000 paper canes project. I did this with 5th grades. It took for ever, but was so rewarding once we finished. We also donated it to a local children's hospital.

  14. The collasal collaborative color wheel collage. Over 8 sheets of poster board taped together and then cut into a shape. 7th grade -

  15. erixalm at gmail dot com

    Two projects: A dot mural (all the kids in the school contributed by painting dots on a canvas (similar rules to your legacy paintings) and they turned out so well (also similarly to your legacy paintings)!

  16. Great post! One of my favorite projects was part of a grant I wrote that incorporated the pillars of character from 'Character Counts'..I brought in a local graffiti artist as a speaker and to do some demos...then the kids chose one of the character words that they felt most connected to and created graffiti style paintings (acrylic, paint pen,spray paint on canvas board) ...they LOVED then project. Oh, It was MS level.


  17. Love it!! Could you use contact paper to mask the letters? BTW- I'd like to enter the

  18. So amazing!!!! I am loving my wee ones work this year , second grade!! My first and second graders are ecstatic when they have art and get super excited to do anything!!! ( they love anyyyy painting lesson!)

  19. Cassie, I enjoy your enthusiasm about your passion for teaching! I love to teach students about the weaving process. To me, it is very relaxing and I could do it for hours. Your project is absolutely wonderful. Your students are very lucky indeed. Marsha S.

  20. Anonymous12/19/2014

    The bottlecap mural my students made a couple years ago- K's and 1's sorted caps into color families, gr 2 designed and painted a background, and 3's and 4's worked in groups to drill in thousands of caps to create an amazing Vermont landscape! joanna.elliott@cesuvt dot org

  21. Oh my gosh, I have been looking for that exact pattern to finish weaving into one of my crap-tastic plastic in-box-style baskets. One of my favorite group projects has been the mitten garlands we made and hung in the office/hallway. The kids loved seeing their work on public display! ~liz

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  23. That is a super great gift to give the principals! They look amazing and I bet the artists are very proud of their work. My favorite group project was the bottle cap mural the school did 2 years ago. Our mascot is a Cardinal and the library is decorated with fish so we did a 4'x4' mural of our mascot for the cafeteria and a large bowl with a "Nemo" looking fish for the library. We are still getting compliments on the art work. My email is-

  24. I love the awesome bright colors in the background and the black contrasting letters! My favorite group project was a neighborhood mural. My 2nd graders worked in groups of 3 and 4 to create a section of our city mural which hung in the entrance of our elementary building.

  25. Anonymous12/19/2014

    Cassie, my dear, the Legacy Mural is amazing, just like you! Please tell your 4th graders that there is an art teacher in Iowa that is also exremely proud of them too!

  26. What a cool mural. I'm a mom and crafter so I plan to let my kids have at the tape and maybe make a folder or wallet!

  27. This is AWESOME Cassie!!! I will definitely need to try this out at my school. I may try to incorporate all my art classes k-5
    I know the tape thing is over but just incase you ever want to write me now you have my email. Hehe!


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