Butterfly Wing Mural
A few years ago I went back to teaching after a long break and have been teaching art at a local junior high.
And yes…the classes are large and no…the pay is not great and sure it is a lot of work but honestly….I kind of love it. I get to hang out with quirky teens, work on crazy projects, and talk about all of my favorite artists and artworks.
My current classroom takes up both sides of an older trailer parked behind the school. I call this trailer my Casita (my little house) and her name is Betty. Even though my Casita is old, has seen some things, and has had a rough life…I just love her and have spent hours and hours fixing her up.
And this year it was time for me to move from working on the inside….to working on the outside!
Up until this point the outside of my trailer looked like a good place to….ummmmm….wellllll…..score some drugs…or have a terrifying paranormal experience….and either way that’s not a good look for a classroom! So, the week before school started I decided to do something about it!
Here’s how it started:
The first thing I did was get a broom and sweep down the entire area.
Next I wiped everything down with a rag.
And then I got to painting.
I painted both doors, the trim, and surrounding area a light blue color called “Ocean Sanctuary”.
Next it was time to settle on a design and I went with butterfly wings.
There are lots of reasons I liked the idea of the wings….I had just gone to a butterfly biosphere and the butterflies were beautiful, I thought it would be a visually inviting image to welcome students to my rooms, and as a teacher you hope that you are helping your students to build wings that will allow them to fly….but, to be honest, my favorite reason was the most obvious.
Junior high is a hard time. With changes and uncertainty. Students are going through difficult transitions and growing pains. It can often be a struggle…a struggle that junior high teachers have a front row seat to.
During this time I’m always trying to let the kids know that they are full of potential…and magic!
And as I’m encouraging them to hang in there I’m promising them that they will grow into themselves and one day others will see on the outside the wonder that I can clearly see on their insides.
All this struggle and change, of course, can’t help but remind me of the rolly polly little caterpillar that over time transforms itself into a beautiful butterfly.
Now that I had my design idea I needed to draw it out.
I had large paper in my room and some markers and made a quick sketch of a wing…a wing that I would trace onto each of my classroom doors.
Using just a pencil I traced the wing on each side of the door.
(In the picture above it shows the wing template I made after had I traced it onto the door….where, during the tracing, it had a tragic accident in the wind.)
After tracing the wings I started sketching patterns, inside each wing, directly onto the doors using my trusty pencil.
After the design was completed it was time to start painting!
For this job I recruited some help….both of my daughters!
We used acrylic paints and spent the entire day on the Casita’s porch painting and listening to music. It was a fun day working with my girls….it was so much fun that we even kept working after it had gotten dark.
The next day we finished up the colored spots on the wings in the light of day…while drinking sodas.
And then moved on to finishing off the wings in black.
I toggled back and forth between using white or black…but my love for the Monarch butterfly won out and I went with the black finish.
I didn’t regret my decision and after a few more hours the basic butterfly design was finished!
I was happy with how the Butterfly Wing Mural turned out.
It isn’t finished!!!!
I still want to add a background and shading on the wings.
However, that might have to wait until spring…..
Until then the butterfly made for some fun first day of school pictures in front of my classrooms.
For my students and…me!
I can’t believe what a change this few days worth of work has made.
I love walking up to my classroom now…it feels light, and bright, and hopeful…which is how I want to start my day and exactly how I want my students to feel.
I can’t wait to keep working on it….and talk my principal into continuing the Butterfly Wing Mural across the entire side of the trailer. 🙂
Here’s to another great school year!