Fort Dodge Senior High Art Club students began the work of creating art in the halls of Riverside Early Learning Center Wednesday.
"The high school art students under Jillian Knutsen are painting some character book murals for us here at Riverside and we are really excited about this," Lis Ristau, Riverside ELC principal, said. "This is a wonderful group of kids that had done some things up in Humboldt."
In July, the art club created murals for Sister's Homestyle Entrees, a Humboldt business. Seeing their artwork, Ristau was so impressed she contacted Knutsen, FDSH art club adviser, about creating murals for the ELC.
"I contacted Jillian to see if they would be interested in doing anything here at Riverside, to jazz it up a little in here," Ristau said. "They graciously offered to do that."
The murals will depict popular children's storybook characters, Knutsen said.
"We're specially doing some Eric Carle ones right now, 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar' and 'Brown Bear, Brown Bear,'" she said.
The art club students began by designing and painting a "Welcome" on the wall ahead of the entrance, immediately visible to anyone entering the school.
"We are doing the entryway," Knutsen said. "One side will specially be the 'Brown Bear' scenes and the other side will be the caterpillar as he evolves. He'll start out as an egg and then a tiny caterpillar and a large one cocoon and butterfly."
She added, "If we have time we'll do a couple more murals throughout the school."
Creating the murals requires craft and technique. The experience will give her students an opportunity to hone both, Knutsen said.
"We use projector screens to project them to large paper and we transfer the paper onto the walls," she said. "Once the transferring is done we'll start going in with some base coats and later the paint to give it the texture of Eric Carle. He originally worked with tissue paper. Giving it that tissue paper look is what the kids are really going to learn to do."
The process will be a complicated one, Knutsen said.
"The paint can't go outside the lines and Eric Carle is kind of a sloppy painter," she said. "The difficult part will be keeping it clean, but childlike."
The art club students are excited about creating murals at Riverside, Knutsen said.
"They follow direction really well," she said. "They are really willing to put in the time and effort, and understand they're not just creating artwork for themselves but someone else. I think that getting over whether you like it or not, whether other people will like it or not, is kind of interesting."
According to Ristau, the students will work through December and "hopefully have it all done before Christmas break."
"They started a week ago," she said, Wednesday. "They did a little bit of drawing on the walls as you enter Riverside. Tonight, they'll begin painting even."
The ELC students will appreciate the artwork, Ristau said.
"It'll be fun to watch their faces as we progress with a little bit of painting to total pictures of characters from storybooks that they're very familiar with," she said.
Ristau said the art will be a "nice touch" to the former elementary school, which became an early learning center with the 2012-2013 school year.
"I can hardly wait," she said. "We needed a little sprucing up of the place to look more like an early learning center instead of an elementary building. I think it will be a wonderful addition, and we thank them so much for doing this."