How to paint a mural

The great thing about murals is that they don't have to be permanent - they can be recreated on a regular basis. Yet murals are an ideal way to bring a splash of colour to a drab playground.

Painting murals is fun for all concerned and can involve one or two pupils as easily as it can the entire school. Godwin primary school produced a great mural for the Friendship Stop at the Hampton Court Flower Show.

Most murals are painted on to masonry - though it must be in good condition. Godwin primary used a timber panel. Timber is ideal as it can be painted indoors, then bolted to an external wall. If the paint wears thin, it can easily be touched up.

Using several timber panels means more children can be involved. Marine plywood is the best wood to use, being especially treated for outdoor use.

* First, prepare the surface. This means smoothing rough or pitted surfaces by coating them with a good quality outdoor render, or in the case of marine ply, sanding any rough surfaces. The surface should then be wiped and painted with a suitable waterproof primer.

* Once this has dried, apply a weatherproof undercoat.

* Next, mark out the design in pencil. This can be traced from a full-size drawing or, if working on timber panels inside, using a slide projector or OHP to project the design on to the wooden surface. Any cutting out should be done before paint is applied to the surface.

* Now the fun bit - painting! The easiest and cheapest paints to use are acrylics and emulsions, which become impervious when dry. Acrylics have no fumes, come in a wide range of colours and will last a long time in good conditions (up to 10 years). They are available from most DIY stores and from education suppliers. Emulsion paints have a similar lifespan and are slightly cheaper. Mineral paints will last much longer but are more expensive. Godwin attached its mural and friendship stop to the fence, providing a screen to the gardens beyond, as well as an attractive mural.

Julie Mountain is head of advice and support services at Learning Through Landscapes, the national school grounds charity. For further advice on developing murals and school grounds, contact Learning through Landscapes 01962 845811.'Murals in Schools' by Carol Kenna and Steve Lobb (Greenwich Mural Workshop pound;4.99)

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