TAPE RESIST MURAL   |   6th – 8th grade

In early 2019 I was approached by a local school and asked if I would be interested in covering the art program for their summer camp. 

I did, and what a ride it was! 

For one of the programs, I proposed a tape-resist mural. I thought this would be a fun and interesting project the kids would enjoy.
This class was 1 week-long and 6.5-hours/day.
I had (9) campers entering grades 6th – 8th. I'm hoping that by detailing my process here, this 
awesome project will inspire art teachers to try this with their students.


The school thought the waiting area outside the nurse's office needed a boost and proposed (3) 48" x 60" panels that could be painted and installed to give the room some energetic aesthetics. My goal as an instructor was to help them understand the space for the install and how we needed to convey a message within that given space. The overall theme was wellness, and we sprinkled the mural with details of sports, nutrition, and mindfulness using illustrations, text, and color. 

I created 3 teams. The teams were divided into 3 campers per panel, and I encouraged the kids to work through their creative process and challenges together, only leaning on me for direct guidance on technique/method details. This was an opportunity for them to practice their painting skills, color theory, and naturally, teamwork. Each team was given a section of the color wheel and create geometric shapes with painter's tape, and then fill those shapes with as many colors as possible without going outside of the spectrum they were assigned. Where one team would end with a color, the next team would begin with an analogous color, and so on. Team A started with red and flowed to yellow, Team B started with yellow and flowed to blue, and Team C started with blue and continued to purple.


Along with the obvious supplies needed (drop-cloths, brushes, paint containers, etc.) I have highlighted a few we used and that I found to be optimal for this mural project.
•  Valspar Signature Paint & Primer
•  Craft Smart Acrylic Paint - 1 quart each of red, yellow, green, blue, black and white
•  Frogtape - 1.41" and 1"
•  Artist's Loft Canvas - (3) 48" x 60"


We had one extra panel that we used as our 'practice' panel - basically a canvas to test taping techniques, color, and detailed illustrations that would allow us plenty of opportunity to iron out any issues we encountered as we moved through the project. This was a life-saver for keeping the students engaged in the project while we waited for dry time during the priming stages. I highly recommend spending the extra money and having a back-up canvas for this purpose.

The first day I spent 15 minutes at the beginning of the class showing the campers a presentation I prepared that gave a very basic overview of mural artists and their craft. In addition to letting the kids paint, it was important to me that they understand the basics of this type of artwork and what an amazing impact murals can give to an empty environment.


After the class watched my presentation, I introduced our first step in the process – priming! We used small 6" rollers and I invited each camper to contribute to the priming, allowing them to get the feel for the paint on the canvas and to understand how very little paint was needed to give the canvas a nice, smooth coating. I explained how important this step was - that the final art is only as good as the prep.


As with any project, I learn from my mistakes. I projected we would only need 1 roll of the 1.44" Frogtape. And, my projections were wrong. I scrambled to located a spare roll of painter's tape which was only 1". I told them to combine the 2 sizes in their design as they taped their canvas, to provide balance and hopefully save us from running out of tape. It worked! I demonstrated how to burnish the edges of the tape after laying it out and to smooth out any folds or lumps. They all did a fantastic job achieving balance in the variety of shapes and sizes.


After the design has been laid out with the tape, the panel needs to be primed again. Priming the panel again over the tape allows the paint to seep under the tape, forming a nice barrier to any color you add over this. When you remove the tape after you have added your colors, the lines are nice and clean, and super sharp. Don't forget this step! It will save you lots of touch-up time when the project is complete.


I suggested that each team create a code system for their palette of colors as they mix. Using a sheet of paper, they could then paint a swatch and label the swatch to essentially make a key. Marking the spaces with their codes would make for a much easier paint application as it essentially then becomes a paint-by-number for them. I was so impressed with their ability to keep it all in order.


Building their colors on their design was a lot of fun for them. I let them all lead this part on their own and was very proud of how well they all worked together.


By far, the most satisfying step for everyone! This photo features the campers pulling the tape from our test panel, where we included a selection of all the colors they created.


I provided several sheets of pre-selected black and white icon-like graphic images of wellness for them to review. Each team was asked to select 5-7 graphic illustrations to include on their panel. Of those, they had to include images that conveyed: sports, wellness, nutrition, and medicine. I kept the illustrations simple and clean, and told them to use pencil first on their sketch and to finish off with analogous colored Sharpies. On our test panel we initially drew the illustrations with a black Sharpie. I felt the contrast really detracted from the beauty of the colored shapes, so we decided to use color Sharpies for the illustrations instead.

For the text, I collected 25 inspirational quotes they could select from, and each team was asked to choose 5-7 for adding to their panels. I provided them with cut strips of paper the same depth of the tape. They wrote their quotes on the paper with pencil first, then placed the paper strips on the panel in precisely the location they would want their text. This prevents the kids from 'running out of space' with their quote as they get closer to the end. I recommend marking the text in pencil first on the canvas – this eliminates spelling errors. 

Each camper also created their own pattern to add to their panel. They were asked to use a paint color that would make the background pop a bit, but not create too much of a contrast.


When we started this project, I was concerned we would not have enough time to finish the mural. The kids finished this in 3 days! Super fast (as most kids work now) but, they did a fantastic job. The installed panels, hung on the walls of the wellness center, are featured at the bottom of this page. I highly recommend this project for this age group, and keeping the class size small helps with management of the entire project and the kids. Happy painting!

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