Murals Brighten Crestwood Elementary

Rich Carter of Carter Custom Painting stands by one of two murals he recently completed at Crestwood Elementary School. photo by Diana Linsley (click for larger version)
07/11/2008 - A new colorful mural will welcome students at Crestwood Elementary School this fall.

Painted by Rich Carter of Carter Custom Painting in St. Louis, he recently completed the mural, which stands 10 feet tall and 16 feet wide. It is located on the outside walls next to the front entrance of the school facing Sappington Road. Along with the impressive mural is a smaller painting that reads, "Welcome to Crestwood Elementary."

At the request of school officials, Carter based his paintings on illustrations from the children's book, "Weslandia," written by Paul Fleishman and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes. The book deals with diversity and creativity, ideas which Crestwood Elementary has adopted as a pattern throughout the school. Its interiors, from the hallways to the cafeteria, are also covered with similar artwork resembling those from the book. Carter's outside murals are the school's latest extensions of this recurring motif.

Unlike other traditional murals, his are not painted directly on the building but rather on a board that is permanently mounted on the brick. The lively mural depicts three children running down a path, which is bursting with nature on either side, including flowers, trees, grass, and wildlife of all sorts. The smaller painting shows a sign stretched between two trees with the welcome message printed on it, surrounded by the same colorful wildlife. The cheerful scene is bound to brighten the day of those who pass through the school's doors.

The murals' vibrant colors are certainly eye-catching, noticeable from the street even on a rainy day. To make sure the colors stay bright as they endure both sunlight and rain, Carter used an acrylic water-based paint, specially-ordered from a company in California to ensure that it doesn't fade.

The Bean House at Lemay Ferry and Telegraph features a mural by Rich Carter. (click for larger version)
"It took forever to paint," said Carter. "But it turned out really nice."

Carter's work can also be seen in other areas of St. Louis, such as The Bean House, a Mexican located at Lemay Ferry and Telegraph. The mural stretches the entirety of one wall, and features three mariachi players and a Mexican landscape. Another unique piece is a St. Louis-inspired mural he painted for a house that dates back to the 1890s. He designed a 1900s St. Louis riverfront scene, measuring six feet by five feet. One of his larger jobs includes 10 mural paintings for the United Methodist Church in West County, portraying 10 different scenes of children in the Children's Education Building. Additionally, Carter has done work for the St. Charles Historic District, painting false windows on buildings, and a mural for the inside of the Coca-Cola Company.

Carter has been painting murals for over ten years, beginning right out of college.

Though Carter specializes in mural painting, his business provides many other services as well. His talents extend to both exterior and interior painting, including personalized artwork such as portraits and drawings. He said he mainly gets calls about children's rooms and ceilings. However, Carter Custom Painting provides more than just painting services. It can also fulfill carpentry needs, from decks to bathrooms.

"Basically anything people want, they call and I come do it," Carter explained.

Carter's mural at Crestwood Elementary School and his other works of art can be viewed on his Web site at

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