Yesterday, I went to my NGO to paint a mural in one of the classrooms. The education director had requested green because she said it would help kids study, so I planned a picture of dark green trees on a lighter green background, with some bright flower accents. Silhouette murals take much less time and planning than a more elaborate painting, and are much easier to complete with housepaint in a few colors. When I was first at the center, I painted two murals of children in silhouette, using photographs of the kids. They’ve held up pretty well in an adverse climate, although the paint is starting to peel where the rain comes down across the gate.
I had to get the paint from a shop on Mao Tse Tung Boulevard. The woman showed me one small catalogue of premixed acrylic paints, and I chose “Ever Green,” the color of oregano, and some smaller pots of dark green and yellow paint. After some pantomiming, I also brought two rollers and a couple of brushes, along with a meter and a half of thin blue PVC pipe and some electrician’s tape to make into an extender. While I was there, one of the workers dropped a can of gold paint off a ladder. I bought the remnant for four dollars because I loved the way his footprints looked on the brick.
I spent all afternoon filling in the background. The ceilings in the classroom are high, and the NGO only had one rickety ladder, its sides held together with a loop of extension cord. I used the extender to coat the walls up to the ceiling. Some of the kids filtered in at intervals and offered to help; they used the brushes to do the detail work.
Later in the evening, a few more kids arrived. We decided that we would paint the other wall as well, because I was afraid to leave any of them without specific tasks, so I assigned the two oldest kids to paint the other wall with rollers and the three smallest ones to re-coat a section of wall with their paintbrushes. It went well, mostly, although it took about three minutes for the littlest little to leave broad streaks of teal paint all over the back of a bookshelf.
We stopped after dinner to mop up the floor, which was covered with spatters and footprints. The small kids washed out brushes and rollers and the older ones used a mop to clean up after them. In the dim light, the green walls looked darker than they will by daytime.
Today, I’m going to try to make potato stamps so that the kids can put in leaves and flowers themselves. I’m not sure if it will be easy to fiind potatoes, so my backup plan is to make potato stamps with green mango.