MARTIN
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Mural 24 in Aix-en-Provence, France
 

When I was a kid, there were two places that I always wanted to visit.  Not that I ever really thought I’d see them because nobody ever really left Ohio.  But, I had my two destinations nonetheless.  And, in all my travels around the world, I still have never been to Acapulco, Mexico or the French Riviera.

Then, there was the email from Magalie.

 
     

Magalie is one of the gazillion teachers who loves and uses my clip art site.  Okay, gazillion might be stretching things, but at the moment the site has more than nineteen million hits.  And, Magalie is one of the fans.  However, she is one of the few who ever took the time to write to me and thank me.  But, she didn't just do that.  Because my art helps so many people, she wanted to do something for me.  So, Magalie said that if I ever came to the south of France, I could stay at her home and use it as a base for my travels.  At the time of the invitation I wasn't sure if she checked with her husband before inviting a complete stranger from the Internet and another continent to their home.  She hadn't.

I replied that a visit to France would be a lot more likely if a mural was involved.

     
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I said that to the right person.  Magalie is a force to be reckoned with.  I don’t think you ever say no to her.  And, when she decided it would be a good idea for me to paint at her school, she bulldozed her way past every stumbling block reinforced with so much French red tape. And, there was an amazing amount of that red tape.  However, it was determined -- she was determined -- that I'd paint a mural in Aix-en-Provence, oh, so close to the French Riviera.

To be brutally honest, most people who receive my murals don’t know what they are getting themselves in to.  They like the idea of a mural, but rarely have they seen my art.  It doesn't take them long to be won over.  But, in the beginning they are pretty clueless as to what they have agreed to receive. 

     
 
     

That was not the case in France.  With Magalie, students and faculty alike at Lycée Emile Zola school knew well in advance about what was in store.  Posters with my art encouraged people to volunteer for the project.  A publicity committee (the first one I ever had) was in charge of contacting newspapers, radio, as well as ­­­­local and national television news to encourage coverage.  Invitations to the opening vernissage (another first for me) were adorned with samples of my art. These people knew what they were in for well before I set foot in France.

Obviously, with that kind of preparation, it was bound to be a success.  And, it was.  I took suggestions created by students and wove them into my design, a heart shaped globe.  The theme of Friendship was written in about a dozen languages on the arteries branching out from the heart.  Hopefully, it would be a lesson reinforced in the minds of the 100 + students who helped me create the mural.

     
 
     

As it turned out, this was also my most fully documented project.  Students photographed and video recorded every step of the work.  An interview by students was organized and edited for the school website, with a video production of the project to follow.  And, yes, the story did make the local news.

To learn more about Lycee Emile Zola, view their website. Magalie has her own class website too.

 
Another very special thanks to the people at Winsor & Newton for donating paint for yet another one of my murals. It's always nice to know the work is appreciated. It's even nicer when the work is done with my favorite paint.
MARTIN
Copyright 2011 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.