Murals at HSLU D&K by the BA animation students

8. June 2024 • Mara Biscioni, Ella Cattaneo, Lea Glitsch, Janine Varga

Murals at HSLU D&K by the BA animation students

8. June 2024 • Mara Biscioni, Ella Cattaneo, Lea Glitsch, Janine Varga

Murals at HSLU D&K by the BA animation st...

Four students shared their experiences and creative processes behind making some murals at HSLU D&K.

Work in progress – the corridor during the making of the murals

Ella Cattaneo

I had never done a mural before, so signing up for this opportunity was very exciting and a bit stressful, but I am very happy that I took the plunge, and so grateful that it paid off! I came up with multiple concepts for the mural, but I decided to settle on one that didn’t depend too much on the format (aka the dimensions of my chosen wall), so that the organizers could potentially move me to another wall if needed.

I also wanted to depict something that related to the school, so I settled on drawing a crowd of students walking to class and choosing to depict them as animals of various shapes and sizes gave me a chance to play with proportions and composition more. I initially wanted each character to represent a specific Bachelor’s, but I soon realized that certain courses were going to be harder to represent visually than others, and that the lines between various art forms were often kind of blurry, so I decided to just freely assign art supplies to the various characters, and let the observer imagine the wider context.

I transferred my sketch to the wall by using the doodle method: I covered the surface with random irregular pieces of tape, took a picture of the wall, and then overlapped my sketch and the picture digitally. I found it much easier than using a grid, although I regretted not using a lighter color for the sketch, as I spent a good chunk of time painting over the sketch lines at the end… Otherwise, the painting was really enjoyable: I first blocked in the basic colors and then did the lineart, the quality of which varied quite a bit depending on how tired I was. I enjoyed being able to work on it virtually whenever I wanted and being my own boss. Compared to what I usually work on also felt much more straightforward: a wall is much more straightforward than a computer program.

The closer I got to the end, the harder it was to finish the project: on one side I felt fed up with the the whole ordeal, on the other side I had been enjoying myself so much that I didn’t want to be done, as contradictory as that may sound. Now that I’m done, I think that I’ll avoid the corridor where my mural is for a while, as I’m quite sick of it, but once I feel detached enough from it, I think that I’ll be able to appreciate it once again.

Janine Varga

Final piece by Lea and Janine

Lea and I had the honor of painting a mural on one of the walls on the bottom floor of HSLU DFK. We spent many hours refining Lea’s initial sketch and transferring it onto the wall next to the elevator. A bunch of first-year students from the animation department banded together to send in as many applications as possible to secure at least one wall for the animation department. I eagerly joined in and submitted a simple design, which unfortunately wasn’t selected.
However, the plan was to help other animation students whose designs made it to the final round, so I got to assist Lea with her mural design instead.

I had painted murals before, so I explained some basics I knew from my previous mural projects to Lea, but even with all the experience I had, we were unprepared for the amount of work and frustration ahead. First, we analyzed Lea’s initial sketch and improvised most of the sketch directly on the mural rather than strictly following the initial design. We used yellow charcoal for the sketch, which seemed like a great idea at first but ended up causing problems later.

Sketch phase

The first phase of painting was met with frustration when we discovered that other students had contaminated the paints with other colors. This caused the paint to look inconsistent, with darker and lighter shades mixing together instead of appearing as solid colors. This was a problem since we intended the mural to have flat colors only. Consequently, we had to repaint most areas with inconsistent colors, like the orange of the frogs. The yellow charcoal also mixed with the paint, altering its color, which further complicated the process.

Despite our efforts to avoid dripping paint onto other areas, we still managed to do so,
forcing us to repaint several sections, especially during the line art phase. Initially, we were excited about doing the line art, but it turned out to be the most frustrating and soul-crushing part of the process. Although we bought brand new brushes specifically for the line art, we eventually had to buy new ones because the brushes we initially purchased were too big or too rough to paint with. Lea did most of the line art while I stood behind her with three different colors of paint, ready to correct any mistakes. Throughout the process, I took on the role of fixing any errors we made.
In the end, it was all worth it. We were very happy with the final result and learned an important lesson: next time we do a mural, we will keep the line art out of the design.

Lea Glitsch

While I was reading through all the initial information about the murals and the walls that were available for painting, I was quick to choose the wall next to room 079. I‘ve sat in that room multiple times for various art theory classes, so I thought it would be fun to design some characters that kind of “walk” toward the room and try to „interact“ with the door. Since frogs are some of my favorite animals, naturally I had to include them in my concept.

Although I was excited to do a mural, I was also nervous because I had never worked on one before and my painting skills left much to be desired. Thankfully my friend and classmate Jan came to my rescue and we teamed up to tackle this endeavour together.

The sketching stage, in which we tried to bring the initial design from my iPad onto the big wall without the help of a projector, was very tedious and difficult. It made me realize how much I was used to only working on a small screen. Jan had some experience with mural painting already and she was able to correct all my embarrassingly wonky lines. We made adjustments to the design to simplify the painting process and added a few little references to some of our classmates.

The flat painting stage was very satisfying and relaxing (not preparing us for the horror that would be the line art). The only difficulty we faced during flat painting was the fact that many people didn’t clean the shared equipment properly so sometimes old, seemingly dry paint on the palettes would suddenly mix with our fresh paint and mess up the flat coloring.

The line art was definitely the least fun part of it all, it required a lot of concentration and a steady hand, little mishaps would be visible instantly and we needed to do quite some cleanup work with the flat colors to cover up our messy accidents. After some time Jan and I came to the silent agreement that I’d take over most of the line work and she’d stand ready with all the flat colors in case of mistakes and mental breakdowns. I guess after some time you just adjust to the misery of it all and accept the fact that some things just must be done somehow.

Aside from that the overall experience was extremely fun, with Mara and Ella just around the corner working on their own murals. We were all open for a silly chat now and then and seeing everyone’s murals progressing with each passing day was very inspiring.

Looking at the mural now that it’s finished I’m very happy with the result and I’m very grateful that I’ve been given the opportunity to add a little splash of colour to one of the concrete walls of the school!

Mara Biscioni

Personally, I always really liked the hallway area of our school. For one, because it has a nice open space at its end, and for the other, because the floor has a yellowish tone. I don’t really like yellow but hey, at least it’s a color. Most educational buildings I have been to have dark gray floors, which makes the whole ambiance of the area gloomy. Needless to say, the bar for nice, colorful atmospheres in buildings is extremely low. Even in art schools. That’s just sad. It was about time someone killed the white of this canvas. I’m so grateful for this opportunity.

The color palette was set for all the paintings to give a sense of harmony to the hallway as a whole. I initially didn’t mind this limitation since blue and orange go well together. However, I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed with the given colors, as there was only one main blue to work with. We had a light blue, two midtones, and a dark one. They were all slightly different hues, which made them look disharmonious. Personally, I would have loved to see more confident variations in the tones. Maybe an almost turquoise? Maybe a purple tone in the darkest blue? But that was a problem for later. First, it was time to lay down some Ideas.

Blue and orange immediately make me think of a nice warm light source. So I made a few sketches around this idea and chose the one that would be the most fitting for our nice little space.

Early Sketch

This used to be a rougher sketch but I finished it outside of the mural project. I just thought it looked like the two characters were burning down the circus behind them, which would’ve been a more fitting image for my previous school’s walls.
This one stayed in its sketch form and never got to be anything more but a chaotic color exploration. It would have looked pretty stiff anyway with the four bluetones given.
I decided to go with this one since it featured a lot of people looking at the same light ray, much like all the people in this school have a common interest in art.

Final sketch by Mara