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I painted a mural for Borderline! by Jenny B. '25

bird-erline mural

Since coming here, I’ve had two items at the top of my bucket list. #1) Graduate. #2) Paint a mural for The Borderline @ MIT. I got to finish one of these last night!

Borderline is a project that started in 2017, where students cover the walls of one of the campus tunnels with murals. Some of these are also animated! If you use the Artivive app and hold your phone up to some of the paintings, they’ll come alive with AR animations that students have also contributed. For the sake of brevity and giving credit where it’s due, you should check out the official site and see the cool stuff that people have done.

Almost every night this semester has involved staring at statistics problems and Google Colab. And that’s been fine with me—this is my first academic year where I’ve actually enjoyed my technical classes for the most part. Even then, I still wanted to make more time to draw, so I was really excited when Borderline opened up artist applications.


This was what I submitted for my application. There really is no hidden message other than: “I smashed a bunch of my favorite things together.” I also didn’t have the confidence to paint a human face on a wall.

a digital drawing of a purple bird-person riding a skateboard, holding a lit torch


mural sketch with pencil

I had to flip the drawing so it could fit the space that I was given. I stood on a ladder which was both fun and intimidating, but that meant I couldn’t frequently step back and look at how the sketch is going. That’s why some of the details and proportions ended up different from the draft.


I haven’t painted a mural before, so I wasn’t sure what kind of paint I should use. There were cans of wall paint, as well a box set of acrylic paint tubes that you’d find in an art classroom.

mural sketch, with background painted in. background resembles a spiky yellow explosion

To get the straight edges for the background, I blocked off the border with masking tape that I peeled off when I was done painting.

Because I was curious, I tested the tube paints, and…

mural sketch with background painted in. there's a splotch of purple acrylic paint where i tried it out, but i decided that i didn't want to use acrylic

Ew, not what I wanted. I stuck with wall paints for the most part.

mural with some of it painted in. the bird-person is a saturated magenta and the pants are beige-ish

I had to get a hang of mixing wall paint. My first attempt here didn’t quite match the original colors of the draft, and the fuzzy edges showed how tired my hands are getting.

i repainted the bird-person to a milder, less saturated lavender and made the pants more brown

By the second day, I was getting a grasp of things. I got the right colors that I wanted, and I was getting brave enough that I was changing some details.

mixing purple and brown paint

grimace shake 2.0

the mural, without the lineart but with all the colors painted in. i added the words "LET'S GO! LET'S GO!!" to the side

[baseball tangent] She was supposed to be a Dodgers fan, hence the blue hat and shirt design, but I didn’t want to commit to it for a whole painting. I only follow the Dodgers because Freddie Freeman is on the team, and I only know him because he used to play for the Braves, which I’m a long-time fan of (I was born in Atlanta).


the mural, with a part of the lineart done over it in black paint

It was weird to do color first and lineart second, since that’s the opposite of how I usually draw. Doing it with a tiny brush was harder than I thought it would be, having to keep it wet and consistently wiping paint clots off.

Finished product!

finished mural

And done! I’m pretty darn happy with how this turned out.

For funsies, this is a playlist of the mostly 90’s-00’s music I listened to while I worked on this. Shuffle recommended.