Former DreamWorks artist paints mural at his children’s school

Former DreamWorks artist paints mural at his children’s school
Glenn Harmon, a former DreamWorks Animation artist whose children attended Thomas Jefferson Elementary School in Burbank, recently painted a mural of Thomas Jefferson on its auditorium wall. (Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

Officials at Thomas Jefferson Elementary in Burbank hope a new mural at the school will show anyone driving by just how fun the campus can be.

It took former DreamWorks Animation artist Glenn Harmon a little over a day in late October to paint a large image of the third U.S. president on an exterior wall of the school's auditorium.


Off to the side of Jefferson's image are the school's goals — passion, integrity and perseverance.

"When people drive by here, I want people to think that this is a fun place to work and a fun place to go to school," said Sandra De Barros, principal of Jefferson Elementary.

Harmon, who currently works for Skydance Media, said he and his family have been involved with Jefferson Elementary for years.

Three out of his four children have attended the school and, every so often, his family has hosted a pancake breakfast, and his wife is involved with the PTA at Jefferson Elementary.

So when Harmon was asked about two years ago to help the campus with its art project, Harmon said he and his family did not hesitate to say "yes."

"We love this school, and they have been very good to us," Harmon said. "We believe in being a part of the community, but in this case, we feel like we've been given so much, that to do any kind of service for the school is important."

De Barros said she has been planning to have something painted on the auditorium wall for almost two years.

About a year ago, the auditorium wall was painted blue to prepare for Harmon's mural, a situation that received some flak from nearby residents.

"A lot of people said it looked like IKEA because it resembled IKEA's blue color," De Barros said. "I told them we had a plan for it, and that it takes time to get things done."

Harmon said it took him a while to get the drawing of Jefferson just right. Once he and De Barros approved a few sketches, De Barros said she let the students and parents decide which of Harmon's drawings of Jefferson would be painted on the auditorium.

Since the mural has been painted, De Barros said she has heard nothing but positive feedback from neighbors.

As an inside joke for residents, De Barros said the school's goals were painted in yellow to keep with the accidental IKEA theme.

De Barros said she is thankful for all the support and help the Harmons have given Jefferson over the years, adding that they are some of the most positive people she has ever met.

"This was truly a labor of love for Glenn and his family," De Barros said. "They just want to give back to us whenever they can."


Twitter: @acocarpio