Step-by-step for an ARRT! work session:

1. Before the work session

  •  contact groups
  •  communicate what groups’ messages are to artists who can be thinking of designs
  • send design ideas to each other by e-mail, etc. so artists can begin to refine ideas
  •  organize supplies.  Groups often want to know what we use to paint on:  pre-gessoed canvas can be purchased on large rolls at discount fabric stores (like Marden’s here in Maine).  We sometimes use white curtain-lining material (also available at these stores).  We use acrylic paint.  Various containers are good to have on-hand for mixing paint, including cat-food cans or plastic egg cartons for mixing smaller amounts of paint or making improvised palettes.  Various size brushes are important.  Chalk, charcoal or pencil for pre-drawing with rags or webbed sponges for wiping away the marks.
  •  check that location for work day is set and time of arrival has been communicated
  •  make sure food responsibilities are set — potluck works well for us.

2. Day of the session – early arrivals:

  •  cover surfaces to protect from paint, including walls.
  •  cut and thumbtack canvases to walls
  •  set up an area for food, an area where paint supplies are laid out, and an area where you can meet

3. Session

  • introductions and design meeting. Go through each banner to be done, listening to design ideas and offering suggestions. When the meetings over, if a design seems ready to go, people interested in working on it come together. (Sometimes if a group isn’t in a rush, we will wait until a design is “ready.” )
  • a lead artist can take the design aside to refine it based on the group’s input. The group begins to sketch it out on a banner. This can take the form of one person laying it out or different people contributing different aspects of the layout.
  • some people prefer to fill in background or paint in things that have been drawn by others. This works well and allows people of varying talents to work together.
  •  a break for lunch is a good opportunity to talk about news and plan further sessions
  • we have a logo that we “sign” on all our banners
  • tape edges of banners and grommet for hanging (BE SURE IT’S DRY!)
  • we usually write ARRT! and information on the back about when it was created and for whom, as well as basic care info
  • roll banner around a tube, PAINT-SIDE OUT (this is counter-intuitive but we find it keeps the paint from cracking, etc.)
  • be sure to photograph the banner before letting it go
  • clean-up — Cleaning brushes in an environmentally thoughtful way keeps waste water and paint out of drains, and water systems. One method is to bring a container of saw dust to each session. Have several containers of water available on the paint table, some for clear water, and some for used brushes waiting to be cleaned, sitting in water.  Most of the paint will be removed and settle into the soiled water and then the brushes can cycle through to cleaner water containers, before a final rinse in a sink. All the soiled paint water is collected and can then be added to the saw dust ,which absorbs it, and allows it to be disposed of at a transfer station–not poured down the drain.

4. After the session

  • get banner to non-profit group with contract and instructions on care
  • send out pictures of your creations to raise awareness for the group and gather your well-deserved kudos! This includes getting pictures from the non-profits of the banners in use
  • keep a spreadsheet or other means of tracking who has the banner and where it has been seen

It’s magical and inspiring to see rough sketches on the table at 10 AM develop into large, complete, colorfully powerful banners by 5 PM — and gratifying to feel you had helped those on the front lines better communicate their message.                                                                  

— Doreen Conboy

Aren’t our banners just what we hoped they would be, relevant, media catchers, succinct, valuable for multiple uses, not to mention beautiful?                    

— Nora Tryon