The Choosing Process and Getting Ready to Paint

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind adventure for us and its only going to get better! We have had the opportunity to meet with so many great people in our community including our leaders, the media, and families of children who have been participating in this project. One question that comes up over and over again is, "How did you choose what drawings will go on the wall?"

One thing we can say for sure is that the selection process certainly wasn't easy. We received thousands of drawings from almost 30 schools in Ouachita Parish. We had children as young as 4 all the way up to eighth grade. We had crazy blobs and stick people along with realistic animals and intricate sports scenes. Ultimately, we made decisions based on how content and style could flow together to create as much of a unified narrative as possible while still representing all stages of childhood development.

First, we went through all of the drawings choosing anything that we thought was well done and represented the major themes that we wanted to showcase such as community, faith, friendship, family, academics, and childhood activities.

Unfortunately, we did not think to take a photo of the huge piles of drawings we started with, but this at least shows part of the beginning stage of sorting.

Unfortunately, we did not think to take a photo of the huge piles of drawings we started with, but this at least shows part of the beginning stage of sorting.

Next, we went through all of those again, grouping the drawings into categories and themes.

A few of our folders full of drawings divided into content categories. Yes, there is a whole section dedicated to foods kids love!

A few of our folders full of drawings divided into content categories. Yes, there is a whole section dedicated to foods kids love!

Then we went through each category, one by one, and filtered out the ones that maybe we had too many representatives of. For instance, we might have had 15 nice football drawings, but we really needed to narrow it down to 5 or less, taking into consideration how they would fit into the greater design scheme. Unfortunately, this meant we had to discard some really great work that just didn't quite fit the vision.

Finally, we were able to start compiling them into the actual mural design. The wall consists of roughly 112 panels. We used four sheets of letter size paper taped together to represent one panel. (Fortunately the proportions work out almost exactly!) Then we transferred every selected drawing, by hand, onto our panel sheet.

Lots of drawings went into making one cohesive scene.

Lots of drawings went into making one cohesive scene.

We tried to keep the art as similar to the original as possible, but in order to make the drawings flow well together, often changes did have to be made. In some instances, only part of the child's drawing would be used. Or perhaps the elements would be separated and rearranged to fit the horizontal layout. Below, we chose to use the girl figure and her painting on an easel, but not the background elements.

This is a great example to show how we did take some liberties in changing the original artwork to work better within the design.

This is a great example to show how we did take some liberties in changing the original artwork to work better within the design.

This sequence shows some great scenes from around a neighborhood, including charming houses, porch swings, and throwing a football.

This sequence shows some great scenes from around a neighborhood, including charming houses, porch swings, and throwing a football.

We needed 112 full panels (which measure about 8'x40' of levee wall), which means we had to tape 448 sheets of paper together to get scale model of our wall. After hours and hours of tag-team drawing and designing, we finally had almost enough panels. We had to get out of our kitchens and to a bigger room to really see what we had!

We headed to Brown Gym at ULM and spread out all of our completed panel designs. Seeing all the different themes laid out made it a whole lot easier to figure out how to get the entire thing to flow together.

Just a portion of all of the drawings we had spread out all over the gym.

Just a portion of all of the drawings we had spread out all over the gym.

Considering and rearranging.

Considering and rearranging.

How to get such different themes to work well together.....?

How to get such different themes to work well together.....?

Like working a puzzle!

Like working a puzzle!

So many drawings! But this really shows how long this wall really is.

Everything got lined up nice and neat, and numbered with the corresponding numbers that exist on the wall. Now we know exactly where everything will go. We just need to make a few minor adjustments here and there, and we will be ready to start drawing the design onto the wall as soon as possible. We will also be finalizing our list of artists and notify everyone whose work was chosen. Letters to the kids will go out next week.

We are pumped! Are you? Let us know if you want to come volunteer!