August 23, 2017

Milltown Primary Art Club Paints Mural in Miltie’s Cafe

By Pam Laughlin

Fourth Grade teacher, Phoebe Hastings, and art teacher, Jessica Marchand , from Milltown Primary School in Bridgewater are very proud of the work their students did over the summer to assist local book illustrator, Doris Ettlinger (children’s book, ‘G is for Garden State’) ,to create a full-sized mural in the newly appointed Miltie’s Café in the school cafeteria. The mural helped turn a plain school cafeteria into Miltie’s Café with newly painted walls, signs, and learning centers. Hastings says, “It’s been evolving. Today it is a restaurant as opposed to a cafeteria.”

Hastings also says, “We selected the book ‘G is for Garden State’ because the fourth grade curriculum includes the study of New Jersey. I wondered what would happen if we took this picture of the map from the book and made a large mural out of it. We prepared a grant and received $1,500.00 which allowed us to hire Doris Ettlinger and her two colleagues to paint the mural of NJ. “

Once Ettlinger sketched the outline of the state with 21 counties, the children helped fill in the mural by painting the fish, water, and other items. They learned glazing and sponging techniques and worked with different art mediums, such as permanent marker. Hastings says, “Eileen Cameron, the author of the book, was s pleasantly surprised that we thought of her book this way and is now doing it in other schools.”

Many of the children agreed that they were really surprised that they would be the ones actually doing the painting and not just watching. They also stressed that “art relaxes their brains so they don’t worry about other things and that it’s fun to use their creativity to solve things. Fourth grader, Sebastian Torrens says, “When I get really stressed out from doing homework I use art to take a break.”

The art club was so successful that today they meet every Friday to continue their art projects. Currently, they are creating shadow boxes to fill with clay items that relate to the state mural, such as the state bird, state flower, state tree, and other symbolic items. Marchand says, “The club has been really fun and a good learning experience. The kids are very proud of their work. We definitely want to do some more murals around the school, including an underwater theme, to help brighten things up. And, our Friday art club is a great way to end the week.”

And what did the kids think about their experience. Read what they have to say:

  • Pooja –“I liked that they gave everyone a chance to do things together. We would step back and see the progress and it was very nice.”
  • Mahima –“I enjoyed painting the mural. When everyone was taking pictures I felt really proud to be picked to be in the art club and the work that we did. Also, in the art club I like to do my main hobby which I do at home – sketching.”
  • Alyssa – “I am proud of the mural in the lunch room. It’s a great picture to see and I am proud that my work is in the mural. I love to draw and go to art class.”
  • Sebastian (Seb) – “When I looked at the mural I was pretty amazed at my art. I used to think my work was okay, but now I think it’s amazing.”
  • Ethan – “It was really cool to see our art work on the wall. I put a lot of effort into it and l liked the teamwork that we did.”
  • Rahul – “I didn’t know I could have so much fun with friends painting the mural.”
  • Bailey – “You can do lots with your friends when you’re doing what you were really designed to do. The point is to have fun and enjoy doing what the art teacher thinks you should be doing.”
  • Victoria – “I liked to draw with friends. It’s really fun.”

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