The walls of the building were pretty run down so the second day was allocated entirely to prepping. We were issued scrubbers and those paper face mask that does absolutely nothing then we were off to cleaning the wall. We primed the walls with four colors for each school. It may not seem like much but this was probably the most labor intensive day. Ironically, as we finished prepping, the municipality decided to put a fresh coat of paint on the other three sides of the building. I’m not sure if this was in their plan all along or if our efforts provoked the municipality but I couldn’t help to think how much easier it would have been had they got started before we prep the wall.
We woke up to heavy rain. We were also using water-based paint. The rain continued past 7 am, our schedule start time, and I questioned if this project has ended before it even began. Fortunately, the rain didn’t cause too much damage to the paint and everyone is always late so the weather cleared up by the time the children arrived. We enlarged the paper drawings into the wall using chalk. Once the drawing were outline, a simple dab of a color in each spot was really all the instructions they needed to start painting. Occasionally they asked me things I don’t understand but most of the time they were asking for colors which I quickly learned the names in Spanish. Whatever I couldn’t say, I’d mime like with brushstrokes.
Two murals down and two more to go, sort of. The clear coat applied to the finished murals to protect it from the weather also made the lighter color bleed through exposing the griminess of the wall. It actually has a interesting gritty texture, but not a look appropo for a happy mural. So we ordered some oil-based paint for the staff and I to touch up the finished murals while the children paint two new murals. 11am was our cut off for working with the children and we were left to apply the final clear coat in the afternoon.
About one hundred fifty children gather for the Earth Day Celebration. The lead artists of each mural were presented certificates for their work and they snapped pictures in front of the mural. I reflected on the many things that could have gone awry and although the mural is not perfect, it’s amazing how much got done considering they had less than four hours each day.