Hughson art students paint beautiful mural in Husky Den

An art project that took nearly the entire school year from inception to completion will add peace and tranquility to a room used frequently by Hughson High students.

The mural adorns a large part of one wall in a room known as the Husky Den. The creation – which depicts a Japanese koi pond -- is the product of nearly two dozen students in Nick Brown’s Art II and III classes, who collectively spent more than 80 hours since February painting the mural. It was unveiled Tuesday morning to an admiring group of students, teachers and administrators.

The planning began way back at the beginning of the school year. Brown challenged his advanced art students to create a conceptual drawing of a mural design that they felt expressed a sense of calm, peace and/or joy. After designs were completed, students and administrators voted on their favorites. After three rounds of voting, Rebecca Ramirez’s koi pond was selected as the winning design.

Ramirez said her inspiration came from a weeklong trip she took last year to Japan.

“It was one of the most beautiful and memorable experiences that I have ever had,” she said. “So, I decided to incorporate that memory into the mural by drawing Sakura trees and their stunning leaves. I also added a koi pond because they are an important part of Japanese culture and are stunning creatures.”

The Husky Den was the ideal spot for the mural because it is used by so many students for so many different purposes, said school counselor Jameelah Cordano. It is the place for individual and group counseling sessions, structured student breaks, the HUSD mentoring program and club meetings. The broadcasting class uses it to record podcasts, the members of the Academic Decathlon team for competition practices and AP classes for test prep days. The room is also the home of the Husky Pantry and PBIS store. 

“The room is still a work in progress, but once it is complete, it will be open at lunch for students as well,” Cordano said.

After the design was selected, Brown transformed the concept drawing into a projector transparency. That allowed him to project it against the wall to create a pencil drawing – essentially, an outline for the students to follow.

“At that point, the mural was ready for students to start painting,” Brown explained.

Work began during second and fifth periods in early February. Brown strategically broke the students into small groups to allow sufficient working space “as well as the ability to work with students whom they could communicate with to help inform the artistic and technical choices they made.”

Before working on the mural, students practiced what they would be painting in the classroom on a much smaller scale using the same colors. That gave Brown time to demonstrate techniques, discuss technical approaches and talk about the challenges of mural painting.

“Specifically, the drastic shift in scale from small paintings in class, to large-scale mural painting, and the techniques associated with such a shift,” Brown said. “It also allowed students to gain comfort and confidence in what they would be painting on the final mural.”

Ramirez remained at the heart of many of the decisions that were made during the conceptual and mural painting process. 

“Her passion for the project has been clear from the start and has helped to guide it to become the beautiful piece of art her initial design first depicted,” Brown noted.

In addition to Ramirez, students who worked on the project were Emily Alcaron, Elena Alvarado, Mia Bunch, Kyleigh Conroy, Kylee Crarry, Ashlynn Crismon, Ryan Den Dulk, Anna Edler, Natalia Fuentes, Bella Hall, Natalie Holly, Skylar Jasso, Gavin LaBansky, Mya Maldonado, Angel O’Donnell, Elizabeth Reeves, Sarah Ricks, Daniela Rodriguez, Leah Torres, Samantha Valdivia, Natalie Velasco and Talyn Woodall.

All the students who worked on the mural did so while also balancing all of their academic requirements and other commitments.

“Through the entire process, students had positive attitudes and cared greatly about the work they were doing, which helped to make the entire process rewarding and memorable,” Brown said. “Thank you, mural artists -- you are all amazing, and you have all left your mark on the Hughson High School campus that will be around for many years to come.”