A Keen Mural in Ericeira, Portugal

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The third mural stop on my 3.5-month journey of creating murals throughout Europe landed me in Ericeira, Portugal: a special village beach town located just 45 minutes outside of Lisbon.

Here, I spent a couple of days walking through cobblestone alleyways with old white buildings with blue and yellow painted accents. I found myself walking every morning along the ocean with so many different beaches to explore in what seemed like every direction. 

 

   

The Mural

I was fortunate to get to work with a local woman, Ana where I stayed in her 3 story family home that she has converted into a hostel. The hostel was not open at that point, so I had the whole place to myself, located just one block from the sea cliffs that poured into the Atlantic. Here, I could see the ocean from my room and hear the sounds of the waves.

Title: Bright Zebra

Dimensions: 40 x 18 x 0, Stairwell

Where: Ericeira, Portugal – Fisherman’s House

Medium: Spray Paint, Montana Colors

Length: February 20-27, 7 days 4-5 hours a day.

Accommodation: A 3-story hostel all to myself!

 

    

I traveled to the Ericeira during the winter time and “off-season”, there was rain, but we also had some beautiful days of sunshine as well. This meant that I had the whole place to myself! 

Here is the kitchen space of the accommodation I had, where Ana would cook me meals every day and come by for a coffee. These walls were often filled with my loud music as I love to paint to music. It is necessary.

I loved using spray paint, I didn’t love the mask but I made it work. I think I went up and down the stairwell a couple hundred times. I have used them before and like how smooth and quick the colors can layer and spread out. The color choices are quite bold and you must be confident with your hands. No holding back.

 

 

Below are images from one of the beaches 45 minutes away from where many surfers will go. There is even a surfing statue over the sea cliff to represent the surfers who always look to the different beaches every morning to see which beach has the best waves.

   

  

  

Featured above is Cabo de Rock, which is the westernmost point of the European part of Portugal. Welcomed with a lighthouse and a tiny trail to explore the cliffside, I felt as if I was in some parts of Big Sur in California. This part of the Portugal Coast reminded me so much of places in California the similarities were striking.

 

Also, 45 minutes outside of Ericeira was the residence of the old royal Portuguese family that lived in a huge castle 450 meters above the town of Sintra. I loved the colors and the surrounding gardens and was so impressed with the views and architecture.

Well, that’s all from me for now! Thanks again Ana for your generosity and always making me delicious vegetarian food! The beaches and the location of Ericeira are unforgettable. If you are ever near Lisbon or Porto, Ericeira is a must see!

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“Into the Ocean” Portugal Mural

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10 days of painting, bicycle rides, rainy afternoons, noisy construction days, sunset visits to the ocean and views across the canal of the iconic city of Porto, Portugal.

The Mural

Title: “Into the Ocean”

Dimensions: 40′ x 10′ x 0′

Medium: Acrylic Paint

Location: Oporto Hostel, Porto, Portugal. 

Length: 7 days, 4-6 hours a day.

The mural was in the common space, in the same room as the kitchen and had a lot of natural lighting and was inside. The wall totaled 40 feet by 10 feet tall. I was able to use a bench to get to the top of the ceiling, no crazy ladders or tight spaces.

  

I had an incredible private room with my own bathroom and nice light. When you travel for more than a couple months, it’s important to have alone time and not always share a room with other people.

   

We purchased acrylic latex paint from the local hardware store, where they mixed paints in the same way I have seen all over the states. The man entered a number that went in accordance with a color, and the machine mixes the colors. I always enjoy this part of the process, as it is a behind the scene look into a new country.

History 

Porto is the second largest city in Portugal with 2.4 million people in the city and surrounding close area. Lisbon is the largest with 2.7 million people. The first known people that built the city were Celtic, around 300 BC. During the Roman occupation of the Iberian Peninsula, the city developed as an important commercial port with trade between modern Lisbon and modern Braga. 

Known for Port wine, art history and waterfront canal and Atlantic ocean views, the town of Porto is full of hills and cobblestone paths. With many gardens and public parks to explore, I took advantage of the city by exploring by bicycle.

     

One of my most favorite parts of Porto were my new friends, including Rodrigo, a beautiful Brazilian friend who was studying at the University in Porto. Even though I travel alone, I never feel alone because of people like Rodrigo! We even dyed our hair purple together.

    

 

10 days of painting with acrylic paint, bicycle rides, rainy afternoons, noisy construction days, with sunset visits to the ocean and canal of the iconic city of Porto, Portugal.

  

I was so lucky to get to see one of my most favorite muralists, Bordalo II, Lisbon Visual Artist that specializes in the creation of  3D mural sculptures made from recycled material. Car bumpers, metal parts of cars, plastic buckets and other parts found from trash. Ironically he had a huge show and series of new murals in San Francisco while I was in his hometown! I will definitely have to check those out when I get back home!

 

Barcelona Mural

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Check out the mural that I completed in January in Barcelona in 2018 at Hostel Primavera. What a wonderful experience as I met the most beautiful people and was able to spend a lot of time with my friends who live in the city. 

Where: Barcelona, Spain

What: The hostel is called Primavera Hostel, which in Spanish, means Spring! The mural felt appropriate to have flowers, blossoms, and colors the represent spring.

What I learned: This was the first time that I painted a ceiling and it came with a lot of problems. When you put a lot of paint on the brush or even the smallest amount of water, the drops will most definitely end up on your face or in your mouth! That is probably why I have paint on my face for most of the shots!

I love painting in different countries to experience the process of buying paint. Every country is pretty different. In Barcelona, I selected colors from a color wheel and drank an afternoon beer while waiting. The colors were mixed with a machine and the price for a quart of acrylic paint was only 4 euro which is almost 1/3 of the price in the states.

In Barcelona, the streets are designed all very similar and the mural that painted was located on the inside of one of these tall buildings. One of the neighbors watched my process of painting. I am so impressed with the city and the way that people live. Such a high quality of life.


I always sign my work M. Keen in honor of my mother. From now on I am thinking about just Molly Keen. What do you think? Thanks for reading, and looking forward to the next mural that I have already started in Portugal!

Thank you again to Guy, Pam and the rest of the family at Primavera Hostel. They were a wonderful place to stay and will soon have a newly remodeled second part of the hostel. Maybe I should go back and paint some more?

Bye California, Hello Barcelona!

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Barcelona was an incredible city and I was lucky enough to spend a little over two weeks in the city! My time was filled with small streets, friends greeting, painting, stunning street art, exciting night life, and the casual beer day drinking. It was truly an unforgettable experaince, and the best part? I got to catch up with my best friend, and old friends from past travels. 2 weeks well spent!

 

I left California on the 17th of January and we a short-term new roommate! Cleopatra! A beauty of a snake huh? Leaving was difficult but who said traveling was easy? I have two backpacks, my computer, electronics, paint pens, stickers, JBL speaker, a large candle and all my brushes! Ready for the muraling world!  

 

The flight from Oakland, CA to Barcelona was 11 hours and easy breezy, way more than I could have ever imagined. The plane, Iberia Airlines or “Level” was a $160 flight one way. The plane was super comfortable with free movies and room to sleep. I even ran into my San Francisco friends Dom and Pinto! They were on the same flight, imagine that?

I was anxious about being on a plane that long but realized quickly how relaxing it was. I slept for a large portion and did not have anyone sitting next to me.

Upon arriving, as my friend Steven (featured above) recommended: at the airport, I took an Aerobus for just 5.99 € and a breezy 20-minute ride into Placa Catalunya where my best friend Steven met me! He had a little sign and everything. We walked 30 minutes to his apartment, set my bags down and were able to catch up for a couple of hours. He surprised me and I was quite the surprised lady! What a great start and introduction to Europe!

   

There is a 9 hour time change, which is quite significant, and I have not felt tired. I feel quite the opposite, settled with the time change actually. Barcelona is about 9 hours ahead so it’s quite a difference. I am pretty adaptable to my environment and a great sleeper so I have been doing great!

We explored the city, as Steven has lived in Barcelona about a year and a half, and we met up with many of his friends. Much of the city reminds me of large cities in South America like Santiago, Chile and Quito, Ecuador for its Latin flair and Spanish influence of course.

   

We visited some parks, churches and walked the city the whole day! Each day my friend Steven and I would explore a new neighborhood and walk around. People here love to take breaks from 2-4 and I love that because it lets you slow down, reflect on the day, catch up with friends, and enjoy life! I think its an amazing part of the culture. In addition, the nightlife is quite incredible I have found myself staying up late every night even though I would not consider myself a late night person.

   

 

My first mural I completed in Barcelona at the Primavera Hostel and I am excited to share more as I complete the images and put them together.

So far all I can tell you is that it is a different style I have never tapped into and it involves flowers, colors, and an outside patio!

I saw many of my friends I met while traveling in Colombia! Beautiful friends that live in the city Rosie and Charo and of course, Fernando! Oh, I also got my nose pierced! Ouch! But glad to have friends that supported me through the piercing. It was a difficult one.

  

Steven and I were able to watch fireworks/sparkler show on a Friday which was incredible! It was loud and a bit scary I have never seen anything quite like it. Large puppets and people dressed up to celebrate. Almost every night I would head to Stevens house and eat some small dinner, olives, wine, and cheese. We would go out late and order my most favorite, Bravas (crispy small potatoes with a spicy aioli sauce). I love bravas! In addition, if you know me, you know that I have a crazy love for salt and vinegar chips. Well, at one bar, they gave us regular salty thick chips and covered it in malt vinegar and rock salt flakes! It blew my mind!

 

My friend Fernando and I went to a Flamenco show which I had never seen before. He also gave me my first motorcycle ride in Barcelona and was the highlight of my trip! In addition, I was able to rent a bicycle and explore the streets that way. This is my preferred way to travel. 

 

  

 

I decided to go to the Sagrada Familia Cathedral, the most famous and longest construction of any building ever! It is a cathedral that showcases Gaudi, the famous Catalonian architect who was 70 when he died in a train accident. His work is gothic and thick but also natural and flowing without any 90-degree angles and using different colors and textures to accentuate lines. He was known for his sculptures and models of works that he wanted to create instead of drawings. An incredible and complicated man, I really enjoyed searching all over Barcelona for his work.

   

Lastly, this is a park that Gaudi designed called Güell Park. It has used the natural materials from the ground to make the buildings and sculpture. He loved mosaics and lived in the park during the years of its construction.

MLK Day Community Mural

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January 13th, 2018 I spent MLK day with 15 incredible 5th-grade artists with organization Upward Roots, from Fred T. Korematsu Discovery Academy, in Oakland, CA. I ride my bicycle to every mural that I create. Here is a picture of me on the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) with all of my paints and brushes! It is super easy to bike to events and more importantly, fun!

The mural took 2 days to complete. One day consisted of just me painting the outline, which happened to be a Friday during school hours. I had countless youth come up to me and ask me questions, so curious and intrigued with what I was doing. They were no strangers to murals, the school features many artists murals outside and inside the school. I was quite impressed. Some of my favorite comments for the students were, “I want to be an Artist too”, or “can we skip math class and paint with you?”.

I love working with youth and appreciated all of my interactions.

The second day was the very next day, and a Saturday so it was a little less crowded and chaotic. I cannot imagine what the reaction the rest of the school had when they came back to school to see the mural completed with color. They all were so excited!

This approach to the mural is called, “Paint by Numbers” and is an easy way for many to get involved all at once to fill in the piece, similar to that of a coloring book.  The technique is great for 1-3 days with minimal preparation time with the participants who will eventually paint the piece. I put a number or a dot of color in the center of the designs I want to be colored in, and students fill them in.

My favorite part of the collaboration was the conversations the artists had with one another during the creation. Laughing, talking, and finding a groove that was both social and relaxing. What a wonderful experience it was!

Did you know that you can also see this mural from BART between the Coliseum BART stop and San Leandro! Pretty amazing!

THANK YOU: 

Upward Roots Elizabeth Knight for coordinating and connecting me to the mural. Their wedding day was the day after this event and I cannot believe how well she had it together.

To Kindergarten and 5th-grade teacher, painter and facilitator Maria Pirner for helping me paint and getting me settled and comfortable at the school. You have such an incredible way of connecting with students and I admire your patience and ability to talk to the students.

Lastly, thank you to Shannon Burns, this project would have not happened without you. Shannon is a friend from my first year in the bay area, 7 years ago and gave me a heads up about the opportunity.

 

Welcome to the “Flying Colors Mural Project”

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The Flying Colors Mural Project tour is in full swing! I arrived at my first leg and the first mural in Barcelona and will start painting this week at Primavera Bed and Breakfast!

I’ve been working on this project for some time now and it was inspired by my experience painting murals in South America. I wanted to create a project that was interactive, mural based and community centered. I want to share this project with you as it is near and dear to me.

Mission:

The Flying Colors Mural Project seeks to create murals with youth and adult to create a more approachable, collaborative, and interactive connection where the focus is on the development of creative and personal skills through painting, hands-on workshops, and community gatherings. 

History:

Created in 2017, the project began after lead Artist, Molly Keen, spent two years painting over 28 murals throughout Cartagena, Colombia, Palomino Colombia, Salento Colombia, Tena Ecuador, Cabanaconde Peru, Puerto Maldanado Peru, Sucre Bolivia, Puerto Madryn Argentina, Punta Arenas Chile, Puerto Madryn Argentina, Chicen Itza Mexico, and San Qintin Mexico. 

Keen quickly saw the impact of female street artists throughout Latin America who were inspirational to their country and the world. She quickly realized the lack of attention and focus on these female artists and encouragement of women to start painting at a larger scale. Women such as Colombian Street Artists Gleo, Zurik, Bastardilla and Ledania as well as Argentinan Muralista Fio Silva represented art and activism creating a remarkable memory in the creative mind of Keen. They created works that were large in size and importance in content.

Goal:

With the project, Keen seeks to utilize her skills as an art mentor to past summer camps, vision as a creative independent artist to show that anyone can paint and even more, we can do it together. The long-term goal of the tour is that it will start in Europe and circle back to Oakland in May where throughout the summer community murals will take places at family camps of festivals, youth summer camps, schools, and various locations.  

The project seeks to unlock the spirit of one’s creativity to experience the world in a way that develops color, new ways to live, and a creative way to self-express.

The tour will start on January 17th in Barcelona and head to Lagos Portugal, Porto Portugal, Dubrovnik Croatia, Germany, and the Netherlands totaling over 3.5 months and 6-7 murals.

In Conclusion…

My blog “Painting Molly”  is over 6 years old now, can you believe that? I have designed it for you to get a closer and more intimate, behind the scenes look, into the mural-making process and travel adventuring. Traveling can sound romantic and intangible but the reality is that it is hard, requires an incredible amount of energy and the ability to leave your home and get outside of your comfort zone.

Traveling has become a dream for me and I am full of excitement to be able to share this experience here, with you!

Oh, and if you know of cities, towns or locations in need of a  mural within the route in Europe, feel free to reach out! Also, a special thank you to Chris Gallen who recently helped me to create my new logo! What do you think? Thank you, Chris, for this incredible gift! You can click on his name for a link to his website. Amazing!

Bicycles, Art, & Updates

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Can you believe that it is December 2017 already? There are lots coming up for mural making in 2018!

As I have been reminiscing about the last year or so I have felt thankful for all of the creative endeavors, cycling adventures and the healing of a year-long a knee injury (yeah it’s better). 2017 has been full of the community including the Biketopia Music Collective and the 7 people that I live in Oakland, CA. Life is good and I can definitely feel winter coming! That means it is time to apply to potential summer gigs for art and sculpture and plan for my upcoming mural tour!

Recap of Biking and Travel: I wanted to share a couple videos with you. Summer 2018 the Biketopia Music Collective, will be starting out on a 3-month tour around Europe. We started the collective about 2 years ago and since have made a journey with 20+ cyclists from Vancouver, Canada to Oakland, CA. The video below is a recap and although the tour was in 2016 it shines a light on all the fantastic happenings that happened and will happen for future tours. We are currently planning and seeking sponsorship and venues that we can play at with our pedal-powered stage.

In addition to the above video, collective member and good friend Robin Applewood made an incredible video with footage of the tour. We created on tour entitled ‘Head Up’. It has video footage from the tour from the Go-Pro that I was into carrying for parts of the tour. It is a must see!

Art Update: I have been super busy creating digital art! Can you believe it? Why? Glad you asked! Painting murals recently have required that I sketch and design the mural before starting to paint. This has become one of the newer processes for me, as clients like to see designs beforehand. What that means is that I am busy expanding my knowledge of photoshop and creating designs digitally. I genuinely enjoy the process and am familiar with it as I minored in Digitial Technology Culture (DTC) at Washington State University.

I am loving diverse ways to express my creativity. But, with that said, I am ready to start painting already!

In addition to my mural making, I have been interested in creating a sculpture based on my experience with pedal power. Sculpture pieces that incorporate bicycle and tricycles with pedal-powered mobile bicycle parts. I am also interested in large structures that you can crawl into and explore with and around. In addition, my murals can be displayed on these pieces as they become more dynamic and interactive with the three-dimensional realm.