Putting on the Paint!

With all of the prep work done, the walls were ready to be painted! Drawing on their earlier lesson in color theory, the teens got to work mixing colors. Once they had created their desired hues, the students began filling in the background. After the first layer of paint had dried, they started filling in the other large shapes, working from lightest shades to darkest.


The next step was outlining the forms. The group decided to mix a dark grey color to use for the outlines, because they thought straight black looked too harsh. Outlining the forms took a lot of patience and a steady hand, but ultimately really made the images pop!


The teens also realized the importance of shading to add depth and nuance to their murals. For example, they first painted the claws solid yellow, which they didn’t like because it was too basic. The group decided to add shading in different colors, as well as some white areas to suggest the shine of the claws. The finished product looked more realistic, and the students were really happy with how it turned out!

Another area of the murals that required some finessing was the galaxy. Ultimately, the teens introduced a wide range of colors — including greys, purples, browns, and blues – to the galaxy in order to make it look more complex and dimensional. They also experimented with a number of different techniques – even flinging paint on the wall à la Jackson Pollock! – to give their galaxy texture and visual interest.

While they were painting, the teens were cognizant of which colors were being used where, and tried to keep the color scheme between the two murals consistent. This helped visually tie the two murals together, despite their different subjects and styles.

Stay tuned to see the completed murals!

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Prepping the Space in Five Easy Steps

As the third week of the program came to a close, the teens began preparing the space to paint. Their first step was to wash the walls where the murals would go. They grabbed everything they could find around the school — including brooms, rags, sponges, and more — and gave the walls a good scrubbing!

Once the walls were nice and clean, the students used painter’s tape to outline where the murals stopped and the walls started. This proved to be an important step, as it prevented the bright colors of the murals from getting on the rest of the school’s walls!

After the section to be painted was marked off, the teens got to use their brushes and rollers for the first time and apply two coats of primer. Participant Kelea explained the process,

“We started our first painting session, meaning we applied primer to the walls. This first painting session was pretty easy. All we needed to do was tape down the sections we weren’t painting and cover the ground and chairs with plastic so paint didn’t get on them.”

After the primer dried, the group worked together to create a grid on the walls. Each mural was divided into two sections, and those sections were divided into nine equal parts. This grid system made it easier for the teens to translate their designs from paper to the actual walls.  Once the designs had been stenciled onto the walls, the teens were ready to paint!


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Evergreen High School Students Visit the Seattle Art Museum

DYH participant Carl recounts the teens’ recent field trip:

On Friday, our class group went to the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) to explore different types of art and other types of imagery. Our first stop was the cereal boxes, which were different from what we are used to seeing in our local stores. “How different?” you may ask. Well, they were redesigned from top to bottom, with the mascots being changed to look like Native designs like what you would see on a totem pole. Our next stop was a painting that looked like all different types of images combined together, with a black and white color scheme. Later we learned that it’s supposed be a representation of a TV screen from the era of the Vietnam War. Then, our third stop was my personal second-favorite, which was the rat on top of a person sleeping. Our class thought it was supposed to show fear. Our second-to-last stop was a white Mercedes-Benz coffin, which was my favorite. We learned how in Ghana, people create coffins with designs of what the person actually liked when they were alive. Our final stop was the Elvis painting which was in black and white on silver. After all that we had lunch, made a drawing, and took a photo to remember this day!Group DYH 2Group DYH


DYH Welcomes Muralist Christopher Paul Jordan from Fab-5, Explores Burien Art Alley

One of the best parts of the DYH program is getting to learn from experts in the field and community practitioners. Recently, the DYH teens had the opportunity to speak with practicing muralist and teaching artist Christopher Paul Jordan. Born and based in Tacoma, Washington, Chris also serves as the co-director of the non-profit arts organization Fab-5. Fab-5 aims to cultivate community through urban arts education, as well as to empower youth.

Chris talked with the group about how he got started as a muralist. They were intrigued to learn that he “prefers spray paint over paint brushes!” Chris shared photographs and videos of some projects he has worked on in different countries and communities. He also talked about the power of public art, and how he tries to address critical social issues through his artwork. Finally, Chris took a look at the DYH teens’ two mural designs, giving them feedback and tips on how to achieve their desired effects.

Chris Jordan.jpg

The next day, the group headed to Burien for some real-world inspiration. They explored the length of Art Alley, which was established in 2013 by the B-Town Beat “in an attempt to transform a previously undesirable space into a treasure for the Burien community.” The teens looked closely at five murals and talked about them as a group. Participant Kelea explained, “We wrote down things we didn’t like and what we did like about the different murals. We also talked about the colors and how they went together and what we needed to think about when we come back to do our mural.” After their trip to Art Alley and visit from Chris, the teens also reflected on the role of public art in community building.

DYH art alley


All About Color

Earlier this week, the DYH teens got a crash course in color theory. After making their own color wheels, they learned all about colors and even watched this awesome OK Go video. Next, they looked at different advertisements and discussed why the graphic designer chose each color scheme, and what feelings different colors evoked. Then they went on a color scavenger hunt around the Evergreen campus. It was a close race, and everyone found all of the items! Try playing along at home – can you find the following in your space?

  • An item with two shades of red
  • An item with two complementary colors
  • An item with all three primary colors
  • An item with a warm color
  • An item with no color
  • A black item
  • A white item
  • A natural item with an unnaturally bright color

The following day, the students learned about mood and tone in literature. They brainstormed words to describe the tone and mood of their mural designs. Then, they thought of ways to illustrate those words through color. Try this exercise at home – how would you illustrate these words through color?

  • Summer
  • Excitement
  • Anxious

Together, the DYH teens discovered the power of color to make people feel certain ways, and how to harness this capability to create the mood and tone they want in their murals.


Making a Mural: The Planning and Design Process

The DYH teens are hard at work planning and designing their murals! They began by measuring the walls where they will paint their murals, as well as diagramming the space. Next, they paired off to create their mural first drafts. The students created designs that embodied their ideals of being unique, inspirational, and welcoming. Some strategies they used to accomplish this were incorporating bright colors and symbols for community, like globes and flags.

Flag mural draft.jpg

Globe mural draft.jpg

The next step was pitching their proposals to their classmates. The teens discussed design elements such as color scheme, symbols, and what made their murals timeless. The next day, the group reconvened to discuss what aspects of each mural they liked best, and how they could combine them to make two cohesive designs. Participant Margarita explained her group’s process:

“We focused on the final designs for the two murals that will represent our school and say what our school is about. We divided into two groups and focused on what each wall would have for our murals. My team focused on the EHS logo for our school, Evergreen High School, and on representing the school’s mascot, the wolverine. We included the wolverine by making it seem like the wolverine claw is ripping through the wall and the EHS logo, but not taking away that it says EHS. We also wanted to involve a sapling or tree branches and a shovel, because our school motto is “dig deep, rise up, branch out.” At first, we decided to place the branches growing behind the EHS logo. It took the focus off the logo and made it hard to read, so we decided not to include the branches.”

Through this collaborative design process, the group was able to finalize their mural designs and submit them to the school, all in the first week!

Mural 1 draft.jpg

This mural includes the EHS logo and school colors, as well as the claw marks of the school mascot, the wolverine. The sapling and shovel symbolize the school motto.

Mural 2 draft

This design features a globe to symbolize culture and diversity, superimposed by a wolverine to represent the unity and spirit of EHS. In the background is a road representative of the students’ journey, and a sign that stands for friendship and guidance.


Dig Deep, Rise Up, Branch Out: Creating Murals for the New Evergreen High School

The summer session of Design your [Neighbor]hood (DYH) is now in full swing! This year, we’re working with students from the newly-reestablished Evergreen High School to create not one, but TWO murals in just four quick weeks!

This fall, the formerly autonomous Arts and Academics Academy (AAA), Technology, Engineering, and Communications School (TEC), and Health and Human Services High School (HS3), will join together to become Evergreen High School (EHS). In an effort to bolster school spirit and encourage campus unity, the DYH teens will be painting two murals outside the main entrance of EHS.

The teens decided that they want their mural to be unique, inspirational, and welcoming. Participant Kimberli explained, “This project is important because we can show what we want for our new community and environment, for people to visualize it. By us participating in this program, I believe that we are showing that we care for our future, and that we all are here to support each other and build on and make a stronger community.”

The theme for this first week of the DYH program is discovery. The teens explored the Evergreen campus to check out the existing murals and record their observations. Then they debated the strengths and weaknesses of each mural, and how that might inform their own project. The students also discussed what makes powerful imagery, drawing parallels between visual metaphors and figurative language.

AAA mural

The group thought AAA’s mural was highlighting creativity, by showing different types of arts.

TEC mural

The theme for TEC’s mural is individuality, which showcases the unity present within the school.

HS3 mural

The teens identified the theme of HS3’s mural as diversity – celebrating everyone’s cultures.

Participant Mark described his first few days with DYH:

“We went to go see the three murals from the three different schools at Evergreen, and that made me realize how important art can be to someone, or how much it can impact someone. I never really focused on the murals as much as I did yesterday, and when the class analyzed it, it made it clearer to me why people do art. I feel like this program is going to give me a bunch of new experiences with art. Today we were discussing our ideas of what our mural should have, and we came up with three ideas: the first was to be unique, the second was to be inspirational, and the last was to be welcoming. My partner and I are focusing on an idea for creating a feeling of welcome because we think people need to feel that or see that when they walk around the Evergreen campus. A welcoming feeling should be the first priority for a school. Now we are designing ideas of what our mural should look like, and then later we are going to present it to the class to persuade them that our idea could be the one to be put up as a mural.”

The whole group is approaching the project with enthusiasm and earnestness. The students are, as Kimberli described, “looking forward to meeting new people, and hearing their ideas of what they want the mural to be, and getting started on it!”

Evergreen crest mural