Anyone who attended the Oct. 16 homecoming dance at Hernando High School saw an ebullient and expansive underwater scene, captured in the frames of a massive mural that served as a vast backdrop for the aquatically themed celebration; a mural painted by the school’s students.
The 10-by-20-square foot mural Under the Sea was handpainted by Hernando High School art teacher Michael Nicholson’s advanced art class. A radiant portrait of assorted sea creatures swimming peacefully across a dazzling azure seascape, Under the Sea was a commissioned piece–and a labor of love–for all involved.
“Every year the school asks us to paint a mural for the school homecoming, with a theme that they choose,” Nicholson explained. “Sometimes, the mural is used as a part of homecoming skits. This year, it was part of the dance.”
Students worked months on this very special mural, an acrylic-based, multi-layered work of artistic creativity.
“We applied acrylic spray to the canvas, laid it out, drew it out, and completed the mural with acrylic paints,” said Nicholson. “The kids learned advanced shading techniques and about mixing colors.”
Moreover, each student learned something different from the process of creating the mural.
“We learned a more realistic style of painting,” said Caelan Wilson, 10th grader. “And we had fun.”
Eleventh-grader Madeline Teague learned a lesson in teamwork from the mural project.
“We worked together,” she said. “And if we needed help, Mr. Nicholson gave us a little help.”
Katrina Hopson-Bailey, 11th grader, learned advanced painting techniques from the project.
“I learned how to match colors to our references for the mural,” she said. “And as we worked together to get it done, I felt like we were part of something.”
Eleventh-grader Katie Marler helped to paint the mural’s colorful background.
“It’s fun to be creative and contribute to the bigger picture,” she said. “I’m happy to be a part of it.”
Twelfth-grader McKenzie Quinn said she learned how to achieve shading and realism in her painting.
“I felt good representing my school,” she said.
Brianna Austin, a 12th grader, said that she learned more about creating perfect lines, shading and angles through her participation in the mural project.
“I painted the light red coral behind the turtles,” she said. “As I worked alongside my classmates, it made me feel like something bigger than I am.”
Students are set to recapture this feeling at the Hernando County Fine Arts Council’s “Art in the Park” event March 12th and 13th, where they will sell prints of their mural at their own booth–with proceeds benefiting the Hernando High art department as well as the students.
“This teaches them the business side of art,” said Nicholson.
And back at school, the mural project has supplied yet another amazing benefit for its student artists.
“I have talented students who take pride in their school,” said Nicholson, himself a Hernando High graduate. “And their community.”