New brick by brick wall incorporates different theme, deviates from past years

Jordan Huesers, Features editor

A football player representing the Tin Man. A spirited student as Dorothy. An artist as the lion. And an intellectual representing the scarecrow.

Juniors Hannah Sittig and Aubrey Illig dedicated around 100 hours to painting the new brick by brick wall with a Wizard of Oz theme.

Art teacher Cheryl Mattke presented Sittig with the opportunity to paint the wall at the beginning of the school year. Sittig then asked Illig, her fellow art student, to join her in this project.

Sittig took an independent study with Mattke with the brick by brick wall as her project.

To start off, they spent hours brainstorming different ideas.

Sittig researched and Illig designed rough sketches of each idea.

“I came up with some ideas but it pretty much was group effort,” Sittig said. “We fed off of each other and made ideas even better.”

Finally, the girls settled on a new theme — The Wizard of Oz.

Illig sketched the design with colors on a grid.

Before gathering paint supplies, the girls began drawing the characters on the wall.

Over the next few weeks, they spent many nights at the school drawing out the people and making them look realistic.

Sittig then suggested the idea of the brick wall as the background. The painting process began Nov. 10.

They first taped the bricks out, a process which took 10 hours. Then they painted over the tape twice.

A problem then arose for Sittig and Illig. They attempted to remove the tape, but the paint peeled up along with it. They were then forced to use an X-acto knife to cut the tape off the wall — adding an unexpected five hours of work.

“People don’t realize how much work truly goes into every detail of that wall,” Illig said. “All of it is much easier said than done.”

Next they painted the landscape: first the sky, then the ground, finally the characters and details.

Time became an issue. The end of the semester was approaching and so was the deadline for this project

Sittig sought outside help from good friend and artist Lisa Gentile. Gentile studied art at the Kansas City Art Institute in the early ‘90s. Gentile walked them through the process of painting a mural and offered a lot of tips. She also assisted in painting the faces and feet of the characters.

“They did a fantastic job,” Gentile said. “The composition is great and the fact that there is trompe l’oeil (illusion of seeing reality) makes it full to the eye. It tricks the eye, giving the illusion that the people are standing in front of you.”

Illig said the hands were the most difficult to draw and paint, but the little details made the brick by brick great.

“People can say what they want about the wall and how it turned out, but I’m proud that I was such a huge part of making it,” Illig said.

Illig said each year the brick by brick is an artistic recreation of a Tiger, and they wanted to go beyond and try something new.

“It’s great to be a Blue Valley Tiger, but there is so much more to our school and our students than the mascot,” she said. “We wanted to create something that the students that walk by that wall every day could connect to.”

Illig said although she and Sittig did not always agree and fought about who had to clean out the paint rollers, it was great to work with together.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better person to work with on this,” Illig said. “When you’re partnering with someone on something this involved, you have to be able to roll with the punches.”