Mural by Meredith Conly at Lakewood Elementary. Photo by Colin Conly.

For Meredith Conly, submitting a design for the new Lakewood Elementary mural was a way to get back into working.

Even if her design wasn’t chosen, it would still be a segue into the business world.

Conly, who has lived in Lakewood about 14 years, had a career in interior design. When she moved to Dallas from Austin, she opened her own textile and wallpaper company.

She stopped working when she had kids, who will be fourth- and first-graders at Lakewood next year. Though she hasn’t really ventured into painting or art before, the mural was surface design, close enough to what she did with her textile business.

Conly says around October, a committee selected her design to be installed on the retaining wall. Originally, the plan was that she wouldn’t have to paint the mural, but the project, funded through Friends of Lakewood, was too expensive to commission.

Her design was inspired by how the students start and work their way through the day. A stallion, the school mascot, pulls in the sunrise. Across the mural, the stallion does different activities, such as jumping through clouds, and at the end of the day, it’s clear that the stallion has done all the activities it had to do.

“It really is supposed to be playful and fun and kind of organic in a way because it’s nature,” Conly says. “It’s hard to explain. There’s a lot going on on that wall.”

Some art students at Woodrow Wilson High School helped at the beginning, in mid-March, cleaning and priming the 650-foot wall.

“It was quite a bit to take on,” Conly says.

Mural by Meredith Conly at Lakewood Elementary. Photo by Colin Conly.

At first, Conly expected that the volunteers would be able to sketch out the design on the wall and then paint it. But that proved challenging, so Conly decided to do a paint-by-numbers instead. Over 70 people, including parents from other schools, have volunteered their time to help complete the project.

“Every day, I’ve gotten to greet my kids,” Conly says. “They come, and we talk about the wall, and then I go back to painting, and they go back to recess. Selfishly, it’s been kind of fun to get to see them during their school day.”

Lauren Harrison, another Lakewood Elementary mom, was a big help, Conly says. They spent about six hours each day painting the mural, and Harrison took charge when Conly couldn’t be there.

Throughout the process, many people have stopped to chat with Conly about the wall and their memories of it.

“It motivates you to keep going because obviously it means a lot to the neighborhood,” Conly says. “It’s on a well-traveled walking path.”