Hired by PPG Industries at Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston
Paint by Number Community Mural
I was hired by PPG Industries to paint a mural in the game room of The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston. I about dropped my phone when the email inquiry came in on my website.
We messaged back and forth right away and later jumped on a phone call with their team where I could learn more about what the project entailed and about Colorful Communities. They have partnered with The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston to beautify their space before school began in the fall.
Paint by Number Design Process
From the beginning, I had known this would be a community project where volunteers would get to participate in creating the mural and a “paint by number” would be the easiest way to do that. B&G Clubs first wanted sports as the design so I created one involving the 4 main sports teams of Houston. They then changed it to games, so I created another design with board games and common items kids of all ages enjoy. We found out I’d be doing two walls instead of just one so I had to take one big design and divide it into two.
The tricky part was designing something that had enough space for “regular, adult humans” with no mural talent/experience to successfully paint. There were also 3 different pipes and a fire alarm to work around on the wall.
The sketch was approved and I got to pick out which paint PPG would provide. What a stinking dream come true. Typically I provide all of my own materials and I bake that into my quote. They sent me their paint link and the world was my oyster. I had a general idea of colors, this was part of the design for the entire two walls to be balanced in color. However, choosing from hundreds of different yellows and blues might have been the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make.
I knew I’d be projecting my design onto the walls to trace so I outsourced the digitizing step so my lines would be crisp, clean, and proportional.
Engineering a Paint By Number Mural
Once I had my paints chosen it was smooth sailing to give each color a number. I then put the number on the sketch so I’d know what numbers to put on the wall.
I put as many numbers as I possibly could on the wall, even if it was all the same space. I wanted very little room for error and I wanted the volunteers to be as self-led as possible without needing me to confirm every few minutes. I made little numbers cards to out by the paint cans so it was also very clear.
Creating an Indoor Mural On-Site
In all honesty, I was pretty nervous when going on-site to meet PPG. I was worried the wall dimensions would be off, I was scared I’d completely mess it all up and they would fire me, but I was also incredibly excited. I had all the feels!
The projection worked perfectly, lining it up took a few minutes but then I just traced the lines. I used chalk which I would not advise. Moving forward I’ll be using watercolor pencil. Another thing that added to my nerves was I had only a day and a half to get this ready for volunteers to come and actually paint. I hired a friend to come help me and we shaved a few hours off the clock as opposed to me doing it on my own.
Once everything was outlined (loosely) and the numbers put into the spaces, the mural was ready for the volunteers to come paint!
Painting a Mural Community Event
The volunteers were broken up into various projects going on throughout the entire club. I was given 4 volunteers to work with me on the mural. They were incredibly nervous and had a tough time even choosing where to start and what brush to use. One said, “can you just tell me where to start and I’ll do it.” I told her to start with the basketballs.
The volunteers were extremely careful with the brushes and the strokes I had to consistently remind them that they cannot mess up. I encouraged them to paint over the black lines because I’d be going over them again once the spaces were filled. After a very slow first hour with only one and a half basketballs painted the volunteers finally let loose and had fun with it. One volunteer was very proud of the Candy Land rainbow, my art teacher came out with her when I got to teach her how to blend the colors.
In total, it took the volunteers 5 hours to finish painting the spaces. It would have taken longer had I not jumped in and started painting as well! We had great conversation and laughs throughout the day. I learned more about PPG’s different teams, did you know there is a group of people whose job is to decide the names of paint colors?!
Finishing a Paint-By-Number Mural
The day after the community event, I returned to the site one last time. This is where I did any necessary touch-ups including straightening out the outlines. I reflected on what I learned from this process, I like to think about how I can improve for the next mural.
Some spaces were too small and detailed so it took longer than what we wanted – especially any of the words like in the Monopoly Game and Scrabble tiles. I was the one who had to paint each of those because they were so meticulous.
Tracing with projection outlines with chalk I wouldn’t do again because it got clunky when adding the paint on top of it. I will now use watercolor pencil to trace, it’ll be enough for me to see but not have an effect with the paint.
I had to outline a total of 3 times, once with chalk, once with paint, and another with paint after. I could have gotten away with using paint directly for the “messy lines” when tracing the projection. It was a total of 17 hours but had I eliminated a round of painting I could have taken 4-5 hours off.
What have you learned from your mural projects? Drop a story in the comments so we can all learn and take notes!
Community Building Activity
I want to do this again! Does your office need beautification? Need a fun staff development or culture-building exercise at your company? Paint by Number murals are a totally fun experience and you’ll be left with a cool product to talk about for years to come. This would be a great activity for corporate office teams, teachers & staff members, office lobbies, restaurants, cafes, and store break rooms.
Check out more of my murals, ideas, and areas served here. I love doing children's rooms, nurseries, and restaurants/bars. The sky is the limit! If you have an empty wall, ceiling, or floor - I can paint it.