A mural in Thailand

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Creating a mural midst the full moon madness. Is the hype all that they say it is? Koh Phangan revealed and a beautiful new mural of mine!
I created the mural above in 6 days total including the purchasing on paints and the creation of the design which I have included below! I usually do not like to share my planning process as the work doesn’t seem fit for the inter-world but I think it’s important to reveal and share the in’s and out’s of the mural-making process.

“I had to see what the hype was all about, visiting the island of Koh Phangan. I felt like I couldn’t leave Thailand without experiencing some of its most famous parts.”

It was a bit shaky but I was so thankful I did not have to paint on a ladder on a hillside
About the Mural
My Thailand mural is entitled ‘Secret Forest’ and it stands 18 feet wide by 12 feet tall on a bit of a hillside. I was so lucky to have the help of some Burmese helpers to put together a makeshift scaffolding for me lowering it foot by foot as needed.
Where: Shiralea Hostel in Koh Phangan, Thailand. In the Northern part of the island, this part of the island had incredible beaches and full of ex-pats (a person who lives outside their native country) with delicious but overpriced food. I most ventured outside of this part of the island but it was relaxing and I was happy to call it home.
Dimensions: 18′ x 12′ x 0′
What: A mural entitled “The Secret Jungle” an Acrylic large scale, public mural located just one block from white sandy beaches and Rastafarian jungle parties.
About the Process
The below pictures show the realized design idea that we were working on and then the finished design. I usually digitally paint on my iPad because I can use a stylus and feel like I am still painting. On the road I use photoshop on my laptop which is a bit more difficult, hence why the before and after are similar but you can’t really understand the final product until there is paint applied directly to the walls. Additionally, a lot can change while painting, sometimes ideas that look great on paper do not appear the same on the wall, so there has to be room for flexibility, creativity, and a little, but of not planning if you will.

The Sketch versus the final…

But what does the mural mean?!?
I want this piece to feel like you stepped out of time and found yourself in a secret place, a self-discovery of sorts through this looking glass of a wall. It reveals not just images pleasing to the eye, but a world to discover. The full moon, its phases around it just as important and vital in the process of lunar cycles.
“Look closer and one will discover something new, something they did not see at first glance.”
About the Island
The island of Koh Phangan is known for its full moon party, which I did not attend and did not desire to. But I wanted to take this event around the full moon, which actually has nothing to do with honoring the full moon and create a mural that honored not only the fullness of the moon but each cycle as well. Inside the mural, you will find the full moon and then around it are 8 circles that represent the waning and waxing of its beauty.
The Start of my 3-month and beyond journey…
My first time in southeast Asia, I flew into Bangkok the capital of Thailand with over 8.2 million people living in the city. It is huge and there are two main tourist places that are filled with hostels and hotels. I stayed at Bed Station hostel complete with a pool and bar and it was a great place to land to. My flight took about 24 hours total with 2 legs of the journey. I took off in San Francisco and then landed in Shanghai with a 5-hour layover. After we set off to Bangkok 5 hours total of a flight. I arrived at 2 am and met a friend from New York where we shared a cab and explored Bangkok till the early morning. I was so happy to have a place to sleep and catch up on the time difference. (#bangkok, #SoutheastAsia, #Khopangan)
Off to Ko Tao and Khopangan!
Traveling by boat and lots of night bus riding.
“I love riding a scooter. Maybe it is my love for cycling but I love being alone on the road with my hair in the wind and the sun on my skin.”
It was my first time I ever rode a scooter and the man working the scooter place said that he was scared for me and unsure if he wanted to rent it to me. I knew I would be fine, although a bit nervous. I was a natural. I think it was all the cycling knowledge but I fell in love. I took advantage of the motor and was able to see every road on all the islands that I visited. Pure ecstasy I couldn’t believe how much I loved it. Say what you want about the islands of Thailand, on a scooter, it is just you and the road. This was the redeeming part of the travel for me.
A little bit of history of the Full Moon Parties:
It started, as most successful festivals and gatherings and gatherings start, as a peaceful gathering of earth-loving people who stayed in tents and it was small and quiet. You could call them hippies but that’s how it started and I am not sure about the exact origin but much less plastic, noise, and people around 1988. I did not attend the gathering but it seemed most people that I met were excited about it. Prices on the island triple for the three days that people come and then poof they are gone.
Southern Thailand is a great place to go if it is your first time traveling…
I want to mention that I do have an appreciation for Thailand. I love the food, the business, and the smiles from the faces of Thai people. I love the climate, the geography, and the animals that I would meet daily.
After traveling throughout South America and getting to know so many beautiful travelers I felt like this country was missing something when it came to tourism. There was a lack of ‘togetherness’ from one traveler to another. I saw a lot of people on their phones and not to mention never one local person on any of the buses I took. It felt like a tourist bubble, something I had never experienced before.

Off to Ko Tao and Khopangan! Traveling by boat and lots of night bus riding.

I love riding a scooter. Maybe it is my love for cycling but I love being alone on the road with my hair in the wind and the sun on my skin. It was my first time I ever rode a scooter and the man working the scooter place said that he was scared for me and unsure if he wanted to rent it to me. I knew I would be fine, although a bit nervous. I was a natural. I think it was all the cycling knowledge but I fell in love. I took advantage of the motor and was able to see every road on all the islands that I visited. Pure ecstasy I couldn’t believe how much I loved it. Say what you want about the islands of Thailand, on a scooter, it is just you and the road. This was the redeeming part of the travel for me.

I want to mention that I do have an appreciation for Thailand.

I love the food, the business, and the smiles from the faces of Thai people. I love the climate, the geography, and the animals that I would meet daily. After traveling throughout South America and getting to know so many beautiful travelers I felt like this country was missing something when it came to tourism.

There was a lack of ‘togetherness’ from one traveler to another. I saw a lot of people on their phones and not to mention never one local person on any of the buses I took. It felt like a tourist bubble, something I had never experienced before. It feels like this has incredibly impacted many of the touristic cities of Thailand. I was able to enjoy nonetheless but constantly observed this.

Thanks for following and looking forward to seeing what the next couple of months bring!

Public Art in Dublin, CA

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I smelled like cedar for the first couple of hours I started working on this project. Added a couple layers of gesso and then started with color.

My first commission of the year and an exciting project with the City of Dublin, California. I painted two large Adirondack chairs, which will be installed in the Spring and available for auction in the fall. I am really excited to be working with the City. This particular experience was seamless and enjoyable.

The Dublin Heritage Park and Museum are prety spectacular they have a ten-acre park with historic buildings, lawns, a historic cemetery, and picnic areas.

Featured are two museums on site: the 1856 Murray Schoolhouse, which houses a permanent exhibit on Dublin’s history; and the Kolb House, a historic house museum.  Also on site are the 1859 St. Raymond Church, and the Dublin Pioneer Cemetery.

I applied for the project in late 2019 and they will be temporary art displays which are a great way to bring people together and activate spaces around Dublin. Similar to utility boxes, they also add an element of interaction that I really enjoy. Watching someone sit on a piece of artwork you created feels pretty amazing. There are a total of 18 different artists and the theme of the project is  “New American Backyard”

The completed chairs will make their first appearance at the City of Dublin’s St. Patrick’s Day Festival, March 14-15, 2020.  The Adirondack chairs will then be on display at select businesses, parks, and events throughout Dublin, March through September 2020.  Come out and see them all.  Make sure to take note of the chair or chairs that you like best, as all of the chairs will be sold at an auction during a City fall event.  Proceeds will benefit the City’s Public Art Program.

 

I am looking forward to following up with these chairs and seeing where they are placed in Dublin as well as where they end up after the auction.

My Largest Mural Yet, ‘Portland Perspective’

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It is with pleasure I present to you, “A Piece of Portland,” a playful interpretation of the Portland cityscape through iconic buildings and locations throughout the city. Here, imagination is boundless through the whimsical style, while the viewer can also identify all of their favorite places unique to Portland in one painting.

 

The mural will is significant in scale and colorfully represent the geographic landscape of Portland. The mural features local neighborhoods, iconic bridges, cyclists, characters, farmers market gatherings, parks, bustling cars and buses, the MAX train and more.

At the focal point (right side of the mural) is the Hollywood Neighborhood, represented with over 40 different buildings and businesses. 

The painting is a result of weeks of research to ensure iconic locations, art organizations, nonprofits, tall buildings, smaller structures, parks, and neighborhoods that make Portland weird were all represented in the mural. With the help of architectural software Sketchup, I built a 3-dimensional Portland cityscape to get an accurate perspective of the City in its relation to the Hollywood Neighborhood. 

“Portland Perspective” celebrates the larger city of Portland with a playful and more detailed depiction of the home of the mural, the Hollywood neighborhood. The mural brings together local businesses and people of diverse backgrounds together in one place. Local businesses can point to the mural and say “I know that place! I walk by there every day to go to work”. I want neighbors and viewers to see themselves in the mural and feel a sense of familiarity and belonging.

 

The piece took almost 2 weeks of painting. Thank you to Leavitt Machinery for their help with renting a telescopic boom. The whole painting took about 8 gallons of paint, 15 quarts of paint, 10 paintbrushes under 3 inches in size, 10 rollers, and lots of support and love from the Hollywood Neighborhood. Thank you to Paul Clark with 42nd Street Station for commissioning me to create the work. We worked hard and for almost a year prior to the work coming to life. Thank you to Jacque Authier for hosting me and to Mike Cobb for the connections you made to make me feel at home in Portland.

 

Public Art in Lakewood, Colorado

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I created six mailboxes for the City of Lakewood, Colorado and the 40 West Arts District. The series is called “Poem Mailboxes” and showcases unique mailboxes created for gardens, birdhouses and the use of upcycled materials.

The works are interactive sculptures that being a sense of slow-paced nostalgia. The focus lays on the participatory form of communication that in this day and age is a lost art form. For some, it is their first time interacting with slow mail and writing poetry outside of the classroom. Anonymous and creative, the concept is that participants read poetry and create poetry at the mailbox. The mailbox encourages the viewer to engage with the world outside of their normal routine in somewhat of a dreamlike escape

Last year I started taking full-time classes at Laney College in their Wood Technology department. At first, I wanted to learn safety within the realm of machining and wood. What I learned was so much more than that, I received a new medium to express myself and a way that I could use my art to reach more people.

The works stand 6 feet tall, created from redwood posts 4″ x 4″s and painted with acrylic paints. There is an oil-based coat on the top, thank you, Andrew, for supporting me with testing various topcoat layers.

 

Thank you, Liz and Kate, from 40 West Arts District, A creative district and destination along the ArtLine. This organization is a nonprofit, state-certified creative district along Lakewood’s historic West Colfax Avenue with the mission of energizing and promoting West Colfax through art experiences, exhibitions, and events that engage the whole family.

Here is a little more about the ArtLine and you can get a better idea of where my mailboxes live.

‘Starlit’, Keen + Lyft Collaboration

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In June I teamed up with Urban Artworks and Lyft in Seattle to create a team-building mural at the new Lyft driver location off Industrial and Airport road in Seattle. The style of the collaborative work was that similar to paint by numbers. I created an outline and the team filled in the shapes with colors identified by colored dots.

Introducing: ‘Starlit’, 25′ x 11′ consisting of two walls, at the entrance of their building and on the side facing outward which can be seen from Airport Way.

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I was excited to be working with Urban Artworks. I have followed their work in the past couple of years and was excited to collaborate.

Thank you again to Urban Artworks especially Project Lead Paul Nunn. Thank you to all the participants at Lyft, I would not have been able to complete this project without you! I am so glad that you have a reminder of this work every time you visit your place of work.

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“Dogs of Danville” Public Art Installation

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What an incredible experience it was working with the City of Danville, California for the “Dogs of Danville” sculpture installation.

My piece “How we grow” is an acrylic based colorful and whimsical piece that brings the viewer around the dog for a full 360-degree experience with every angle offering a different perspective. I wanted the dog to have movement complete with brightness and a sense of playfulness. One of the most time-intensive parts of the process (besides applying) is how the dog required multiple layers of paint. One can see by viewing the time-lapse that 3-4 coats of paint were needed to make a stable and bright hue that I desired as an outcome. This also was true with the black and white lines across the dog as well. The entire dog took me about 3 days of painting at a good 3-4 hour sessions. My roommates were cheering me on as I was painting in the backyard, complete with guitar playing and sunbathing.

The City put out a call months before asking for requests for applications to paint or add mixed media to the already casted plexiglass dog sculptures. Half of the dogs were standing, and the other half was standing.

The art opening took place on May 9th, 2019 at the Village Theatre and Art Gallery in Danville, CA, where all 15 artists celebrated their works. The installation of the dogs happened after the celebration where they found semi-permanent locations throughout Danville. My piece was the unique and lucky one to stay at the Village Theatre, welcoming guests and patrons of the theatre at the front entrance.

I am so thankful to be included in this show and grateful for the Danville Arts Commission for including me in the show.

Please watch my timelapse and be sure to check out “How We Grow” until September 2019 where they will be auctioned off.

Oakland Mural – “Airmid” the Goddess of healing through Herbalism

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May I introduce “Airmid,“ the violet Serpent standing at 100’ x 18’ – Spray Paint – Oakland, California. Here Airmid, the Celtic Goddess of healing through herbs and transformation, is depicted as a snake. The consciously chosen violet with powers to heal and transmute.

Being an Artist is hard work and hustle, it’s not always pretty and its never just about painting. Nevermore did I need the snake medicine midst painting outside of the 18-year-old Co-Op run “A taste of Denmark Bakery” on the corner of 34th and Telegraph. It was challenging because of confrontation, vandalism, and coming up with a plan as a neighborhood on how to restore the mural. Upon completion, I felt like a whole new Artist.

This was the largest piece that I have ever created, and the second time that I used spray paint. I traveled daily with my bicycle of course and could not have done it without the Xtracycle! That bicycle is the reason why I have not had a car in over 8 years! I loaded up spray paint from the lovely 14th Street Supply Company in Oakland, which by the way, was the best experience I ever had purchasing paint! Quality and affordable cans.

The color scheme I chose is my ideal color palette. I recently started creating my pieces digitally before painting. That way, I can play around with color and start to see different ways that I could expand concepts. For Airmid, she was really about trying a new medium, style, and balancing that with a design that I have always dreamt of creating. I wanted to make the piece simple but also with movement and activation. The snakeskin was enough detail for just getting into spray paint and the slight difference in colors creates an incredible aesthetic that you can get with layer similar colors on top of one another. I learned that technique from a sweet friend in Berlin while creating “Arriving”.

    

Thank you to Edward for your support and encouragement with this piece. For the opportunity and freedom to create what I artistically wanted. Thank you for the introduction to your world and family. Thank you to the neighborhood of 34th street, the multigenerational family members across the street that watched the entire process. They brought me coffee, pastries, and conversation.

Thank you, Hunter Franks, for your grace and confrontation skills that I only dream of creating. You stepped up and supported me in a way that I cannot thank you enough.

Thank you to Sari Blum for capturing the final day, your photos are so meaningful to me. Check out her work Y’all Sari is a badass photographer that can shoot just about anything!

Lastly, thank you Nate Bauld for being there the morning I covered up the mural from graffiti. I did not want to do it alone.

Thank you, Maisha, Benji, Lauren, Carolyn, Heather, Ruca, Fenner, Jenna, Ben and all the others who stopped by to support me and say hello. The support means the world to me.

Till the next project. I love you all, thanks for being there for me.

Bicycle Touring Murals

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This past summer I set off for the second time for the Pacific Northwest on a bicycle tour with the incredible, Biketopia Music Collective. We rode our bicycles from Olympia, Washington back to our home in Oakland, CA over the span of 2.5 months.

Our goal? Use our bodies upon our large bicycles to pedal ourselves in an intentional community through cities where we would perform music with pedal-powered music! Pedal power? The same bicycles we use to tour on, we used for the community to pedal our shows! 3-4 hours long, we had different acts and musicians contribute; including murals!

In Seaside, Oregon I created a 1-day mural with participants from the local community center to create a gorgeous mural that was inspired by the garden and all of the love that went into the creation of it.

In Portland, Oregon, I created an incredible large mural that was abstract in style, and colorful in content. This piece was in the Hollywood district just right across the bicycle shop Velo Cult, which is where the bicycle touring group performed. This mural was the first where I had a reveal party with music and friends. I loved to include the community in the reveal as this is an important aspect to the mural and the future life that it will lead.

You can find the 20′ x 15′ foot mural entitled “Sacred Waters” at 42nd and Tillamook in the Hollywood District on the side of Popina Swimwear.

Berlin Mural – “Arriving”

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About The Mural:

Title: “Arriving”

Where: Comepackbackers, Berlin, Germany

Dimensions: 9′ x 20′ x 0′

Medium: Acrylic Paint, Indoor, Private Mural

Length of time: 1 week, painting 6-8 hours a day.

Artist: Individual, Molly Keen

 

Background: I was working in Mostar, Bosnia with black and white and with a focus on design and movement. It was heavily based on drawings and I wanted to bring in bright colors and focus on creating life throughout the hallway that many people walk up and down the halls hundreds of times a day. I created the mural beforehand with the owner, and came to an agreement and there I was, off to different paint stores in Berlin deciding what type of paint to purchase for the project. 5 paint stores, and some hardware stores later I found the perfect store, and to one of my favorite parts of traveling and painting murals: buying paint from foreign art stores. The paint is the same, most of the time, and the interactions and different ways to mix paints always intrigue me.

I made a time-lapse of the experience as I believe it’s important to showcase the entire process and one can see how it’s not perfect, and always changing.

I loved my time in Berlin, I ended up staying 2 weeks and made some really beautiful friends. Berlin is definitely one of those places where I would love to get my masters or study further. The art scene is incredible and the people are from all over the world and creative!

My Germany Experience:

I traveled to other places throughout Germany besides Berlin. My Grandparents on both of my father’s side have parents from Germany. My entire life I knew that I would make it there, and towards the end of my travels, I found myself in Stuttgart, Germany on an apple farm.

For 5 years its been a dream of mine to visit the farm, with my old friend Lukas. I met Lukas in South America in Peru after a Vipassana (link) meditation retreat. He was my introduction to bicycle touring as it was to my surprise that he had a bicycle loaded up with back and front panniers and he had ridden from North America en route to Patagonia. I remember thinking about how incredible it would be to travel by bicycle and to create that kind of experience. It foreshadowed a lot of what I would create for myself in the future as far as living and ride on a bicycle. I knew he had an apple farm there and it seemed almost necessary to pay him a visit and meet his family.

After Stuttgart, I took a 6-hour bus to Munich, where, my father’s last name, Aigner comes from! I actually met some people with the last name and it’s more common there of course. Munich I met with some friends from Oakland that currently live there. I spent a couple of days with them and eventually made my way to Berlin and stayed with some friends before confirming the 5th mural of the tour at Comebackpackers Hostel. The hostel was a retro, centrally located a hip spot, sold out every night I was there, with lots of backpackers. I met tons of people and really felt at home. Germany was all I ever dreamed of and more. I felt so inspired, and could definitely see myself living in a city like Berlin to get my Masters in Fine Arts. 

 

 

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!

“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.

Full Moon – Art Auction

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This fall at the Joshua Tree Music Festival I participated in the Art Auction that donates half of the proceeds to the Joshua Tree Living Arts Foundation which supports and encourages youth to make art. The 12′ x 12′ piece was inspired by the full moon that came up bright and orange during the 8.5-hour drive to the festival from Oakland to Joshua Tree. I made a timelapse of the experience, love to support the festival and participate in the auction.

The 2018 May Joshua Tree Music Festival will feature the bicycle touring band that I traveled the west coast from Vancouver B.C. to Oakland, Bicicletas Por La Paz, click this link for their music page. I recently participated in a music video with them you can check out here:

Sunset Art in Berkeley, Sprinter Van

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Giving thanks for the gift of creating! Check out the incredible and collaborative van art!

This past couple of months I have been working super hard on getting new mural gigs which require a lot of patience, writing, editing, designing, computer time, and stamina. Sometimes it seems like I am on the computer more than I am painting, and I am grateful for a project like V.N.V.S. to be able to exercise what I love the most, creating with community. I enjoy sharing and trusting a common vision while supporting one another.

I love when people stop to ask me questions while I paint, I make sure to give them a chance to create beside me. It is important that my art brings people together and respects the space for which it was created in. The beauty of art!

This brings me to this past weekend, where I was lucky enough to be the first featured guest for V.N.V.S. an incredible couple, Catie and Tom, who travel and live in a sprinter van. Originally from Indiana, the two are based in Oakland and plan to travel in the van, featuring local artists of the towns that they travel through.

You can also follow V.N.V.S. here on Facebook –I am excited to see what is in store for them in the future.I loved the project and we had some guest stars, neighbors, come through and create with us as well!

Summer and Art’s Community Mural

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This past month I helped to create a “Paint by Numbers” mural with over 40 children and adults! It was set on the stunning Eel River, which last year, I saw almost dried up. There has been so much rainfall this past winter and the parks and rivers are still seeing glacier run off from it! Incredible for Calfornia it needs it!

Mateel Summer and Art’s Festival took place in July for its 41st year! Incredible community located in Garberville at Benbow Recreation on the river. Camping and tons of music, this festival is open to all ages and especially can accommodate children! I worked with mostly young children to create this piece. Please, enjoy the time-lapse below!

 

Joshua Tree Mural May 2017

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Back at it again, at the Joshua Tree Music Festival in Joshua Tree outside of the Mojave desert in the incredible land of cactus, singing birds, hot heat, strong winds, dust storms, and glorious mountains. The difficulty with this particular project is that the heat is so strong and wind gusts can get up to 80 mph. The temperature ranged from 70-98 degrees Fahrenheit so mornings were essential in not getting burnt or dehydrated while painting!

This year is my third art piece that I have created and I wanted to incorporate an actual Joshua Tree. I received a vertical board this time, making it perfect for the shape of the tree. Of course, color had to be included.   

With whimsical tales from Doctor Seuss, this piece is important to me as the centerpiece shows the seed of fertility and the essence of femininity, the yoni. At this particular event, I was harassed by a young man while painting on the ladder. I had an idea of what I wanted the image in the center of the tree to be, until my interaction with the man. My hands were full and I kept asking him to stop touching my dress but he did not listen. I asked some friends to intervene and they were super helpful. So as I began to paint again, I realized that this soft and beautiful divine image of a vagina was important for me to put int the centerpiece. It was important for me as many people asked me about why it was there, and it generated many important conversations with all peoples about boundaries and the risk you take in being vulnerable at a festival. This was the “enough is enough” piece as it was the straw that broke my back. I am sick of going to concerts worried about being grabbed or groped, especially when I say stop. So to spin it back, positively, this piece is special to me. It is a pretty open one and something that was therapeutic for me.

In addition, some the photos that I posted here are from my friend, Alejandro Murrieta, who is the son of a man who picked me up in the Baja California during one of my bicycle tours. My friend was sick and he asked us if we needed a ride, and we ended up staying with him for a couple of days on the beach! What a small and beautiful world!