Several people strolling through downtown Lawrence on Saturday took the opportunity to grab a paintbrush and add their artistic impressions to a community mural.
"It's fun," said Carrie Wallace, a Riverside School sixth-grader, who was adding dashes of yellow to the 12-foot by 8-foot plywood mural, which was positioned at the Allen Press parking lot, 11th and Massachusetts streets.
The project was part of the Harvest of the Arts Festival, a weeklong event that included a parade and several musical groups performing Saturday in downtown Lawrence. The festival, aimed at showcasing the diversity of arts in the community, concludes today.
"It gives you a chance to be very creative," Wallace said, outlining a pink handprint she had made with the yellow brush. "Little kids can do it. Old people can do it. And middle-age people can do it. It's something everybody can do. . . . It's kind of wild and neat."
The original drawing for the mural was called "Three Dancing Painters Painting Dancing Paint."
The sketch shows three jovial painters carrying paintbrushes in their hands, with one painting the sun, one skipping along and one smelling the flowers.
But after dozens of youngsters had added their personal touches to the mural Saturday, the original design was difficult to see.
"It seems to have grown out of that original drawing," said Wendy Bantam, a local artist who organized the project.
"It's become very expressionistic," she said, laughing. "We've had close to a hundred of people come in, including children and adults. The kids are really enjoying it."
However, the process of mixing ideas and creativity, rather than the work itself, was the main purpose of the mural, she said.
"The purpose is to get people involved," she said. "Art can just change when you get the community involved in it."
Bantam said three professional artists had added their touches to the mural, finding shapes within the splashes of color added by children.
"We could end up with a completely different theme," she said. "We've had a lot of fun painting on it ourselves. . . . It will probably end up where you can't see anything in it any more. So at the end of the day, we'll touch it up and come up with an understandable image, working with everybody else's drawings."
All of the supplies were donated by Lawrence businesses, she said.
"I'm not quite sure what people from the festival plan on doing with it," Bantam said. "It may end up in somebody's yard for a while. The city is open to take it, if they want to."
The original intent was to get one of the walls downtown to paint, she said.
"Maybe next year we'll be able to do that," she said. "I think it would brighten up the town and add a lot of interest."