Painting a School Garden Mural

In May 2023, I partnered with Maxtivity Art & Crafts Creative Space, and Philomath Elementary School for a special mural project with students! This project was a spring residency program, in which I worked with students on arts education and practice.

Oregon State University Extension’s Food Hero Program planted a new garden in the school’s courtyard. We thought a colorful garden-themed mural would match perfectly! The goal of the project was to engage the students of the school in thinking about healthy food choices, learn about the mural painting process, and to create lasting memories for the school.

Maxtivity’s amazing art educators went into the school to talk with students. They collected ideas for what could be represented in the mural. Students created a list of colorful foods, plants, and insects, plus the school mascot (a blue falcon), and some key school symbols like golden tennis shoes.

Painting Mural Process

I had taken measurements of the walls to be painted. Then, I created digital sketches based on my measurements and the students’ ideas. We presented those sketches to the school staff and administration and got further input. When we’d finished the revision process, we had a design that included a colorful garden of flowers, veggies and fruits, plus wild foods that grow along our rivers, trees, the falcon mascot, a scarecrow sporting some golden shoes, plus an interactive tree swing!

Then the painting began!

Philomath Elementary school hosts grades 2nd through 5th. Each class got to participate in the painting in two sessions over a whole week. That way, they got to see the full development of the mural from sketch to finished design. 

Students contributed their hand prints placed along the border around the mural.

The finished mural features green beans, marigolds, tomatoes, rainbow carrots, cabbages, rainbow chard, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and apples. This project was made possible through generous donations and support from Maxtivity Creative Space, Philomath Elementary PTO, Philomath Open Studios, OSU Extension Food Hero, Republic Services Charitable Foundation, and Philomath Community Foundation.