A mural of their own

Laguna Beach High School students picked up spray paint cans and brushes April 28, finishing off the neon-infused, animated mural they added to the school in three days.

Hurley Director of Art Jason Maloney has been supervising the project.

Maloney is known for his offbeat drawings of animal characters such as Tippsy the elephant and Coily the snake. His works have been showcased all over the world, appearing on skateboards, murals and paintings.

However, he took a hands-off approach, adding his expertise when needed, letting the kids dictate the design.

"I like to see the light bulb come on when they see it come to life," he said. "You kind of lose your breath."

Principal Don Austin said Hurley and Laguna Beach High have formed a special relationship, working on different art projects, such as a mural in the school's gym and a mixed-media piece on a cultural exchange they did with a Mississippi high school.

Maloney enjoys giving back to the kids and imparting his knowledge of art.

"It's cool because no one did it for me," he said. "It took a lot of figuring out and wrong turns. I can show them that you can color on things and make a living at it."

Senior Cody Atler was excited to work on the project because he wants to use art in his career.

"I hope to create a T-shirt company and art is a part of that," he said. He also mentioned it was a nice coincidence he got to work with Hurley.

Sterling Phillips, 18, always stuck to technology when it came to creativity.

"It's a new experience for me," he said, moments after applying paint to the mural. "I had never touched a paint brush before in my life."

Senior Nash Taylor said the mural will spice up the gray walls that cover much of the school.

"It makes the area less dull, that's for sure," he said. "No one used to eat or hang out here. Now they might."

Senior Kassandra Carey has gained a lot from the creative partnership. She's interning for them this summer. She'll be the first intern the art department has had.

Maloney applauded her talent as he pointed out Carey's art hanging in a Laguna Beach High hallway.

Carey added a personal touch to the mural with the addition of whimsical sea-monster, dragon creatures. One even has a mustache, a detail other students have noticed when they walk by.

"I like the fact that we got to steer away from a plan and make it our own," she said.

Kerry Pellow, a computer teacher who supervises the class, is glad to see the kids put practical use to their skills with industry professionals.

"They've made such a positive experience for the kids," she said. "We want to do another one."

The mural is ready for view at the rear of the school near the stadium.


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