In 2011 hundreds of Girl Scouts descended on Club West Park grabbing paints, brushes and canvasses to help with the Great Ahwatukee Paint Out. The goal was to fill the walls of the Ronald McDonald House with love.
Thirteen months later the project was completed and the artist behind the idea has a lot more planned.
“A couple of years ago, I carried 150 boxes of Girl Scout cookies that our Brownie troop raised to the Ronald McDonald House to donate,” said Ahwatukee Foothills resident Sandra Marshall. “I got to talking to the director there and he mentioned that they didn’t have any artwork on the three floors of the house, and they were having the hardest time getting anyone to donate. I happened to be a professional artist, and thought, “Well, this is one of those ‘meant to be’ kind of moments.”
Marshall reached out to other Girl Scout troops in the area and in May of 2011 more than 150 girls came together to get started on the project. On that day each girl just painted their canvass in their favorite color. Over the next few months, Marshall invited smaller groups into her home studio and gave a mini painting lesson to help each girl paint something she loves.
“I thought if everyone painted what they truly loved, the project would be a huge success because it would give out a positive energy on the Ronald McDonald House walls,” she said.
Marshall took the finished canvasses and incorporated them into murals she painted on the walls of the Ronald McDonald House. It took over a year for the project to be completed, but Marshall said she was thrilled with the outcome. Not only did she get to help adults and kids realize they can create something beautiful, but her home studio was transformed into a place where many people in the community felt comfortable to come and paint and create.
Since then, Marshall has taken on a few new projects. She helped Kyrene de la Sierra Elementary paint a mural of a tree inside the school. Each time a student does something that has to do with the six pillars of character, the child gets to put a leaf on the tree. The tree, which is in a main hallway in the school, is full of leaves and serves as a reminder for the kids. Marshall’s next project will be helping a group of teenagers at Kyrene Altadeña Middle School bring forth a mural inspired by Rachel’s Challenge.
Marshall also hosts painting parties at her studio for kids and adults and mural parties for kids who want to paint a mural on their own bedroom wall.
“I truly love what I do, and feel blessed to be able to share my talent with others,” she said. “If I could get a child excited about creating, if I could have a 90-year-old tell me, ‘I have always wanted to try painting, but never thought I could, and this is the best thing ever,’ if I could have a father and daughter create a painting together at my studio, and share a moment that will hang on their wall, I have done something close to my heart. Something that makes life worth living.”
For more information on Marshall and her art, visit www.sandramarshall.com.
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