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Year 6 Students paint their own Enchanted Forest mural

inspired by David Hockney’s Tree Paintings

Derwent Water Mural full view

Ninety Year 6 students at Derwent Water Primary School, Acton took part in a term long project to create a 12 metre long collaborative mural inspired by David Hockney’s Tree paintings.

The project was delivered by Auriol Herford of Kite Studios, Shepherds Bush and commissioned by Laura Partington, Arts coordinator at Derwent Water Primary.

The mural was unveiled at a ceremony in front of Students, parents and teachers in the Junior Playground of the school on 14th April 2016.

View mural unveiling video.

Inspired by Hockney

During the spring term the year 6 students worked on the mural, taking part in 4 school art workshops led by Auriol Hereford of Kite Studios. The workshops encompassed different art techniques and ways of thinking about art, from David Hockney’s paintings and his use of colour horizon line to drawing nature from observation, mixing colour palettes and learning about colour families.

First the workshops looked at trees in detail, selecting foliage to draw from observation. Then the children learnt about the shape of trees kinaesthetically through modelling their own trees out of brown paper and making and sticking on stencils to mark out the space taken up by the tree on the mural canvas.

Using Hockney as a model they learnt about how to put in Horizon lines and used masking tape to mark up the horizon line on the mural .

Looking at Hockney’s use of colour opposites they learnt about colour families – using bright colours to highlight the trees (–group colour wheel). Then by looking at the different colours around the trees.

Evaluating the Work

The pupils carried out team evaluations standing back and looking at the mural as a whole.

Developing their skills of reflection to make changes and improvements in the colour and they used highlighting so the sky would contrast with the rest of the painting.

The children loved the sessions: “fun lessons that we will never forget!”, “Oh boy, was I happy!” Another child commented that they had learnt an “array of brilliant techniques” that helped them create an authentic, colourful piece to bring their playground to life.

The children had felt joy in being allowed the freedom to ‘splosh’ on the paint with no fear of making mistakes. In the workshops they learnt that there is no such thing as a mistake in art as mistakes are part of the artistic conversation and can always be adapted and accommodated into the whole.

Planning and Ownership

The children planned and created the mural all themselves: drawing and painting directly onto the canvas, reflecting, adapting, improving as they went.

This gave them a strong sense of ownership over the project as each part of the canvas reflected their responses to the natural world. In their speeches at the unveiling Year 6 students said they felt proud that they had created a legacy for all the other children to enjoy.

Feedback and Naming

One child said, “I’d like the mural to be put in a respected area as it took a long time to do and it showed what each of us could really do.”

The children chose several names for the mural including “Creative Horizons” and “The Trees of Tomorrow” before deciding on “The Enchanted Forest”. It is designed to last for a year; then, perhaps, another group of children will be able to express their creative spirit and dreams of a better world by making their own painting.