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Easton Park Trolley, Inspired by Del Valle Students
May 3, 2018

Easton Park Trolley, Inspired by Del Valle Students

Last year, Creative Action embarked on a partnership with developer Brookfield Residential to create a piece of fun, engaging, and ultimately interactive art at their Easton Park community.

The canvas? A blank, gray trolley with an attached slide that sits nearby the new homes and looks like the perfect place to play, even before it was painted.

Here’s what it looked like before Creative Action Teaching Artist Larissa Stephens got her hands on it:

Trolley before the mural

The plan was to incorporate student vision into the talented artistic ability of Larissa Stephens, a local mural artist, who works in our after school and teen programs. Because the mural’s base is a trolley, Stephens, along with Creative Action Visual Arts Specialist Lindsay Palmer, envisioned imbuing the piece with a psychedelic, San Francisco-in-the-1960s vibe updated for present-day Austin. To bring together these various sources of inspiration, Palmer, who served as the project’s Art Director, looked to Mural Arts Philadelphia’s Wildish project, where students used neighborhood plants to design the final art piece.

Our students did something similar, collecting plants and leaves from the Sustainable Food Center community garden that backs up to our Center, and printing them on paper. Along the way, they learned about the healing and beneficial properties of the plants.

The students’ finished product looked like this:

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Larissa then used that artwork to create vector images of the pressed leaves, like so:

Plantlife is, of course, full of color, so the next step for Larissa was to come up with a vibrant, but grounded palette from which to work. Here’s what that looked like:

Then she took each individual plant piece, created by a local student, and mapped it to a template of the trolley. Once the design was finalized, and the base color selected, it was time to paint!

Larissa and Lindsay use a convenient parachute cloth technique to create Creative Action murals. The process involved cutting dozens of leaves out of parachute cloth before painting each individual leaf, then eventually adhering the cloth to the trolley. This allowed students — the same young artists who create the original plant prints — to help paint the final mural without having to climb all over the play piece.

Once all pieces had been painted and the trolley had been primed and painted a base cream color, Larissa went to work layering the plants on top of one another to finally create the finished mural you see below.

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