Muraling at Rock Prarie

Some lively muraling has burst into existence at Rock Prarie Behavioral Health, thanks to the Arts Council and Alisa McDonald for making a connection!

Creating the murals required a strategic approach – a loose but organized plan that allowed self-expression for a number of individuals and would achieve visual resolution.  Instead of creating coloring-book-style murals where colors would be filled in to pre-drawn forms, these murals were made by a series of processes.  If you look at pieces by Conceptual artists such as Sol leWitt or Yoko Ono, you can see examples of instructional paintings or instruction-based art.  The Rock Prarie murals are instruction- or process-based, but not just about process.  Each step helped inform the subsequent step.  There was plenty of room for chance and variation, using instructions that could be interpreted by each painter.

Rainbow palette: We went with the rainbow palette to keep things bright.  Coincidently this palette complements the Rock Prarie values logo – a little square of different-colored puzzle pieces.

Below, are some photographs of the painting stages and the finished murals:




The kids had 3 big murals, each 36×172″.  We went with one rainbow, one cool, and one warm.  Painting groups of 2-5 adolescents at a time rotated.  Each started off with patches of color.  Next, we drew off areas with tape – random shapes. On the rainbow and the cool mural, we added a wash to each new shape.  For these steps, we tried to keep like colors apart.  For the cool mural, we defined the edges for the new shapes and then added some finishing touches. The warm mural did not get any washes; instead we added all species of tiny little symbols to the bigger shapes.  On the rainbow mural, we did not define the new shapes, but added overlapping concentric circles of every color.  On top of that, we created sea creatures to make a rainbow ocean explosion.  And then glitter.  Look:

(rainbow mural) 36×172″
(cool mural) 36x172"
(cool mural) 36×172″
(warm mural) 36×172″

The participants are currently deciding on what to title the murals.

Here is a look at the development of the rainbow mural:

add wash
add wash
add circles
add circles
add sea creatures



The original idea for these 5 murals, each 36×56″, was something along the line of landscapes.  Each lands in one color from the rainbow spectrum, with BIV consolidated into one panel.  We painted these in larger groups (8-12), using a similar process-based painting strategy.  First we covered the plane in patches of pure color.  Next we filled in any gaps with white.  Next we linked shapes of the same color with curvilinear forms.  Each panel was divided into 3 bands by thick white lines that traced the seams of color patches.  After this, we added more: thick curvilinear lines to the bottom band; thin curvilinear lines to the middle band; and overlapping concentric circles to the top band.  We made some straight-line connections between white marks in the bottom band, and then feathered in a vignette for each of the 5 pieces. Finally, each piece received a solid wash, tinting the colors beneath.  You can see that although they are made using the same series of steps, they reveal differences which act as subtle signatures of the many hands that contributed to painting them.  In my mind, they are still landscapes.  Here are the finished paintings:

hallway view
hallway view
(red) 36x56"
(red) 36×56″
(orange) 36x56"
(orange) 36×56″
(yellow) 36x56"
(yellow) 36×56″
(green) 36x56"
(green) 36×56″
(BIV) 36x56"
(BIV) 36×56″

And the transformation that they went through – here is red:




Larger projects involve teamwork. Participants from the adolescent unit, an adult unit, staff & I collaborated in creating some beautiful art on the walls.  The wonderful supervising folks made this possible.  Thanks again to everyone involved for facilitating this!  The murals turned out lovely!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s