ELLSWORTH — It all started with a wall in Rebecca Svec’s French classroom.
Last year, the Ellsworth High School teacher asked then-junior Ashley King to paint a portion of her favorite artwork, Vincent van Gogh’s “The Starry Night,” on a classroom wall.
King, now a senior, mimicked the post-impressionist painting in all its deep blue and yellow glory. Her version of “The Starry Night,” which she did for credit in a painting class, would be the first of many murals that she has painted throughout the high school’s classrooms.
“I just kept going from there,” said King, 17.
Principal Dan Clifford approached 2D art teacher Shannon Westphal about a student painting the EHS logo on his office wall.
“The first person I thought of to do it was Ashley,” said Westphal. So the AP art student spent much of her free time last summer painting the eagle on Clifford’s wall.
On her first day of senior year, Spanish teacher Carolyn Kutny asked King to paint El Greco’s “View of Toledo” in her classroom. So she did.
“I do whatever the teacher requests, which are murals relating to the subjects that are being taught,” King said.
“I think that having a mural in your room kind of helps the atmosphere, makes the classroom more inviting,” Westphal said. “It makes them feel a little more homey and it’s something nice to look at on their walls.”
So far, murals include professional sports team logos in Athletic Director Josh Frost’s office and an abstract view of the Earth in physics teacher Pete Enderlin’s room.
“We have an approval process now, because Ashley is a track athlete and takes high-level classes and has a job, so we have a list going of all the teachers who have requested murals,” said Westphal. With King’s busy schedule, she doesn’t have time to take on every request.
Right now, she is working on painting Greek columns in the 2D art room as part of her AP art credit, and has several more murals to go before she graduates in June.
“I expect to do 10 total by the end of the year,” King said.
King is the “artsy” one in her family and has been interested in art from an early age.
“I started to get more serious about it in high school,” she said. “That’s when I started to explore more mediums.”
Her favorite medium, it turned out, was mural painting.
“I like working big with murals,” King said. “It’s a bit more challenging because you have to work a little harder to get some of the smaller details in.”
On average, it takes about a month for her to complete a mural, but now she is kicking it into high gear with graduation looming around the corner.
“I don’t have enough time now to take a month to finish the rest of them,” King said.
In the fall, King plans to attend Southern Maine Community College in South Portland to study veterinary science. Although she won’t major in art, King plans to continue painting as a hobby.
“Knowing that she has [painted the murals] in her free time, I really think she will find the time for [painting],” Westphal said. “She is very talented and she can pretty much do anything she wants.”
While King soon will say goodbye to Ellsworth High School, she has already left her permanent, artistic mark on the school.
Said Principal Clifford, “[Ashley] put a lot of time and work into them, so they will be here for a long time.”