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Mural 62, Walnut Elementary, Ashville, Ohio

I was thrilled to go back to Walnut Elementary as a guest artist/author. Of course, that demanded a little preparation and conversation. And, since the school is located just outside of Columbus, where I live, it was best that everything be discussed face-to-face. Not a problem at all, since it is such a scenic location in Ohio's farm country.

I knew what was going to take place and I already knew what I was going to talk about. The surprise came when the principal said it would be good to have one more mural to celebrate the occasion. The school already had ten mini-murals that I made four years ago. But, they were painted in the summer and I was an invisible artist. This time, I was going to have a face.

Boy! Did I ever have a face.

My author visit to Walnut Elementary was a full two-months before the mural project began. The students had plenty of time to learn my name. After all, the librarian had read several of my books to them. Additionally, I visited the school and gave my presentation. And, finally, they all had their socks knocked off while I told "Spider and the Honey Tree". Yep, everybody knew my name.

Since approximately 500 students knew my name, it felt like someone was alway calling out, "Phillip Martin!" I've never heard my name used so many times. And, everyone one of them wanted to paint the mural with me. I'm very thankful that I wasn't the one to choose who painted and who didn't. I was very happy to claim innocence.

Just like with all of my murals, I never come up with a theme. I always get it from people at the location where the mural is painted. This was no exception. The idea came when the librarian discussed the mural with some fifth graders. Now, that has not always been very successful in the past. But, a group of three kids came up with a winning idea. I knew it as soon as I heard their suggestion. And, no surprise, it earned the three of them the chance to paint with me.

At Walnut Elementary, the kids are daily urged to be a Walnut H.E.R.O. (which stands for Hard-Working, Encouraging, Responsible and Optimistic). My favorite murals are the ones I design with letters that are illustrated. So, it was a pleasure to create this design. They wanted a design that was exactly what I wanted to create.

Win-win!

Unlike the other murals in their building, the students watched it come together, step-by-step. Actually, everyone watched it because it was in the most central location in the building. As soon as you enter the school, my mural is directly in front of you.

While the students were delighted to watch the progress and participate, I have learned through experience that there is one thing that drives many of them crazy. I always save the eyes for last. It's kind of like saving the best for last or finally eating dessert. And, I've been told, many times, that the people look like soulless zombies until they finally get their eyes. So, seriously, why would I ever put the eyes up any sooner?

It took a week to paint the mural at the school. My volunteer painters ranged from Kindergarten to Grade Five. Throughout the whole experience, I I was made to feel like a real celebrity. And, that is something so unusual for me. But, alas, the mural is finished and my time at Walnut Elementary is over. I'm back home and no longer famous. But, in one corner of Ohio, at an elementary school surrounded by farmland, everybody knows my name and I am a artist, author and muralist.

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Copyright 2022 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.