The VMC mural project

Are you interested in helping out with an awesome service project? More importantly, do you wish you could paint on walls like a 5-year-old and not get in trouble for it?? Then read on for details on how to help with our ongoing mural-painting project!

Valley Medical Center's pediatric wing has about 48 exam rooms that we're going to liven up with murals. So far, phase 1 has done 8 of them, and phase 2 has done another 4. That means we still have lots to go, so we still need lots of artwork, lots of supplies, and lots of labor!


Artists for the VMC Mural Painting Project have several roles, including creating a mural design, sketching the design on the wall, and leading a small team of volunteers to paint the mural.

Constraints on the artwork:

  • designs should be kid-friendly (appropriate for babies to 18-year-olds)
  • designs should help brighten the space (i.e. no dominating dark colors)
  • at the clinic's request, murals should have a background color (rather than having decal-style images)
  • designs should utilize a "paint by number" approach where each space is a solid color. (Artists may add detailing and shading later, but most of the painting will be done by relatively unskilled volunteers).
  • try to use 8 or fewer colors

Do you already have a great idea for a room's artwork? We'd love to see it! Send a full-color version to Sarah ( and we'll see if/how/where we can fit it in.

If your work is chosen, here's what you're signing up to do:

  • maybe generate a few more revisions of the artwork, dealing with nitpicky requests from us and the clinic ("you drew pistachio ice cream -- can we have mint chip instead?"). The final revision will be needed before Friday of the painting weekend.
  • send us a black-and-white line-drawing version of your work (like from a coloring book, suitable for tracing)
  • let us know if you want to use a projector for getting the image on the wall, or if you're comfortable freehanding. Both methods have worked fine so far. Note that the rooms are kinda squashed, and every piece of art we've worked with has had to be shuffled around a little bit to fit on the walls. Plan on having to move the components of your art around!
  • on Friday of the painting weekend, you'll need to be at VMC around 5:30pm to start sketching. (It usually only takes an hour or two.) Depending on projector needs, we may need to stagger starts.
  • on Saturday, arrive at 8:15am and manage volunteer painters (typically three per shift) from 9-12 and 1-4. (We give artists lunch from 12-1!) You may stay as late as 6pm to do any detail/shading work.

We will do a quick assessment/training in the morning at 9am when volunteers arrive, but you will want to more closely monitor their skills and provide any additional instruction that seems appropriate regarding brush use, cleaning brushes, etc. It's okay to redirect your own painting time to managing your helpers; it reduces mess and work that you need to re-do. :)

A suggestion from a previous artist:

"At the beginning of a shift, ask the volunteer to paint in a non-critical small area. After observing them, ask them to paint an area based on their skill level. You may need to specifically ask them to only paint close to, but not up to a line with color change. (What I should have told one of my crew, if I had thought about it.) If the volunteers just choose what they want to paint, it may require skills beyond their ability, requiring others to spend time fixing messy edges."


This is a big project, and there's way more to do than just the super-fun part of doodling on walls. Some volunteers need to help with some non-painting tasks, such as taping up dropcloths, pouring paint for people, cleaning up drips, keeping brushes from getting destroyed, applying the polyurethane coating that protects the murals, and moving room contents around before and after.

That said, almost all of this project is fun. Send an email to Sarah ( if you'd like to be put on the volunteer sign-up list! (And of couse let her know if you'd like a specific task.)

Note that the exam rooms are really small, so we're only allowing four people in a room at a time.