Camp Conrad Weiser/Children’s Clinic of Wyomissing Mini-Mural Project

Welcome to a page devoted to the Camp Conrad Weiser arts department (in association with South Mountain YMCA) outreach project for Summer 2014!  Mini-murals that are currently on (semi-permanent?) display in the patient examination rooms at the Children’s Clinic of Wyomissing.

I need to arrange a page here to discuss this in greater detail, but – I’m the arts programming director for South Mountain YMCA.  The residential camp is called Camp Conrad Weiser – and that is where the majority of my art programs and classes are held, especially throughout the summer.  There is a menu of programs campers can choose from – and two of these programs are Crafts Unlimited (a program with a wide variety of things to try), and Random Acts of Creativity (a program where we get out and around, creating artwork designed to impact the environment of the camp and pull in participation from other campers).

During the summer of 2014, I was just about done writing up the curriculum for each of the 9 programs in my department – but I had two openings.  One in each of the aforementioned programs.  It just so happened that my daughter had to get tested for strep throat, and while we were visiting the doctor’s office – the idea for this project occurred to me.  Our doctor has kids who attend the camp, so it was convenient to bounce the idea off of her minutes after I had it.

Here is the decoration they’ve had in the exam rooms for the last decade or so:

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It’s served them well for a long time, but I wondered how they’d feel about my involving campers in a project to create mini-murals to fit into these plexiglass display areas instead.  Something new to liven up the look and feel of the exam rooms.  The doctor and office manager showed enthusiastic interest, the camp management was on board with the project, and we went from there!

I used photographs that I’d taken as the inspiration pieces for the mini-murals.  I drew using the photos as reference, rendering the scenes with various sizes of Sharpie markers.  Here are some photos of that initial line work:

This is a local attraction, the Reading Pagoda.  The horizontal layout of this piece may strike some viewers as odd, but I like it.
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There are a total of 9 mini-murals.  I brought in two in at a time for the campers to paint.  The teaching portion of this project centered on watercolor techniques and color matching.  We used old school watercolor paints – but rule #1 was to mix your own colors and not use color straight from the trays.  A lot of progress was made among individuals in the area of large scale washes, warming and cooling various colors to represent the light in the photos, and dry brush techniques in the detailing phases of the painting.

Here are some photos of the paintings in progress.  (I try to protect the privacy of campers in the photos I take throughout the summer – but some may still be identifiable.  If you, or someone you know, is in one and you wish to have it removed – please let me know.)

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And here are the final results!

Thank you very much, to everyone involved – it was a fantastic collaboration with the participation of around 100 painters.  I tightened up and finished them – but all the most interesting choices are ones made by campers over the course of the summer.

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Many of these are based on settings in local parks – but a few have special personal significance.  There is a picture of the view outside the hospital window when my first daughter was born, and most of the pictures were taken on father/daughter adventures around the area.  The toddler in the one painting is my daughter as well.

Here is how the artwork is displayed at the pediatrician’s:

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Now little ones afraid of their inoculations, or dealing with painful symptoms, have something new to look at for distraction – and the families waiting for their care are enjoying the efforts of our campers every day.  If some of those kids come to understand that other children did the painting, and they go home and get out their own paints – that would be even more awesome.

– RS 1/19/15

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