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Prattville Artist's Mural Celebrates Childrens Characters

By Associated Press

Prattville AL – It started with Noah's Ark.

And it has spread throughout schools and hospitals in the tri-county area, greeting students outside their classrooms or patients sitting in waiting rooms.

The murals of Lauren Hughes are a result of her upbringing the love of art from her mother, the handiwork of her grandfather's carpentry, and the architect work of her father.

And it has taught the part-time art teacher at East Memorial Christian Academy in Prattville, where she teaches art to students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, that to succeed in her business Murals and Artwork by Lauren there must be faith.

"I really haven't had any formal training," Hughes said. "But my mother was my teacher. She has always liked the arts and worked with me through the years. She developed me into appreciating art."

And that appreciation spreads to what she loves most about her business of seven years: the joy it brings children.

"It's very physical, but the pleasure I get from the smiling faces is worth it," she said. Painting is "a gift I was blessed with from God. I think it's my duty to use it. That's why I love teaching so much.

"I was in my 20s before I knew I could do anything. You may have a gift and not even know it. A lot of people don't discover it until later in life."

The Deatsville resident, who was born and raised in the Pine Level area, started her business after painting a Noah's Ark mural for a nursery at Boones Chapel in Prattville.

A church member, she said, urged her to try to make a living from it.

"I thought I would enjoy it because I thought it would be a nice thing to try," she said.

Hughes paints children's characters, such as Dr. Seuss' Cat in the Hat and Alice in Wonderland at Coosada Elementary School in Millbrook. But she also paints team mascots, including a panther at Pine Level Elementary School, a wildcat at Prattville Junior High School, and even an Auburn tiger in a family's game room.

Coosada Elementary School has paid Hughes for about eight murals at the school, said its principal, Susanne Goodin.

The first mural painted was The Cat in the Hat almost three years ago.

"The children ... they love it," she said. "The good thing about her painting it was that the children got to see it be transformed from a white wall to the painting.

"Those particular children got quite the show. She painted five murals in the main hallway and the children watched it come to life as they walked to and from class."

Teachers, Goodin added, also have paid out of pocket for Hughes to paint pictures outside their classroom, including a giraffe eating leaves outside a classroom door.

Hughes said her artistic side started when she and her mother, Cathi Esco, owned a bakery in downtown Prattville for seven years. The bakery, Designer Cakes by Cathi, later was sold and now is Marchelle's.

"I went from painting on cakes to painting on walls," Hughes said.

Hers is a word-of-mouth business, as she passes on pamphlets to customers, urging them to spread the word. Hughes charges between $50 and $75 per hour for her work, which can take between three to six hours, depending on the project.

Hughes credits much of her creative side to her family.

"They all pretty much instilled in me that if it was something I wanted to do, then to do it," she said. "I've laid bricks, I've done tile mosaics, I've done the textured walls.

"I'm not afraid to try anything. And that's part of starting a business. You have to be willing to try, and having a positive attitude."


Information from: Montgomery Advertiser,

Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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