Category Archives: Murals

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?

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.

 

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!

 

 

Rotten City Mural – Emeryville, CA

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My latest mural you can see at Rotten City Pizza in Emeryville, California. The wall is a stucco, concrete 45 foot by 4-16 feet in some places. The mural wraps around the building, taking over parts of two walls.

The entire process has taken me about 1 month and over 100 hours. An element I wanted to add to this piece was video. It was my first time using a GoPro to film my work with a time lapse. I wanted to engage viewers in a new way. I took a shot every three seconds and created a one minute video after a month of painting. The mural was a special one, as my first day of painting was on the 10 year anniversary of my mother, Cindy Keen’s passing. She was creative and energetic and has been my artistic inspiration for my murals. In honor of her, I sign my work M. Keen with her maiden name. So, enjoy the time-lapse.

The Mural:

I have been riding my bicycle by Rotten City for a couple years now and it was not until last year, that I realized it was a pizza place. I stumbled upon it and had an incredibly delicious slice of pizza. Every time since that experience I felt like the building needed more flare and movement to attract people without using a sign or with traditional ways. I have been looking and dreaming about this wall for about a year now. Jonas, the owner of the business and the building agreed to meet me after I sent him an inquiry. We met twice and I showed him different sketches and we spoke about the history of the business and what he wanted to convey to the neighborhood. I was excited to start painting and after three hours in the paint store, selecting colors and day dreaming about the process, I purchased a couple quarts of paint and was ready to start!

Above is the logo of Rotten City, and inspiration for the mural. Elements of the imagery are further discussed at the end of the post. Gambling chips, pizza, a monkey (yes, a monkey) riding a gray hound, palm trees, playing cards, wine barrels, wine bottles, beer and the cityscape behind.

Here is a look at the preliminary sketches.

The mural is 45 feet wide and like a pyramid, at some points reaches 16 feet and at the low points each about 4 feet. The mural is painted with high quality Sherwin-Williams paint, acrylic latex, exterior satin sheen. It is mold proof and water proof, it was super important that I invested in the paints to get the longevity for the mural.

The mural took a total of about 1 month and 70 hours to paint. I found the stucco a bit hard to paint on, and honestly I enjoyed painting and was not concerned about the hours, but more about the process and the quality. I love to paint, it makes me excited and is what I want to do with my life. So I was excited to spend as much time possible on the piece.

The contrast of painting in Latin America V. U.S.

This is my first outdoor mural in the United States and has been an incredible experience, as with the overwhelming amount of love from passerby and cars that want to scream how they feel about the mural with joy and good intention. I was surprised by this and thought about the contrast of painting in Latin America versus the United States. In Latin America, people would sit and watch me. They would bring me treats and things to drink, and not necessarily talk to me, but just enjoy the process and watching me.  Most of my murals reside in Colombia, Peru, Argentina, Chile, and Mexico.

Studio V. Street Art 

I have painted in quiet community studios and also painted in busy streets, jungles, beaches, and other outdoor locations. I absolutely love being outside and engaging with the community. I love to get to know people and have them ask me questions. Street art is definitely more my style and I love when people are interested in what I am doing, or I am the first live artist they have ever seen painting a mural.

Tons of people approached me and asked the same questions. Sometimes they would just blurt out whatever they were thinking. Here are the top 5 commentsL

1. How long will this take you?

2. Is it just you painting?

3. That is a lot of work.

4. Good job!

5. You get paid, right?

People have definitely expressed their feelings toward the mural more than I would have ever imagined.

History of Rotten City, and Emeryville, CA: 

History is important to me, especially when I am adding to the aesthetic of a neighborhood and spending a lot of time outside getting to know the people that walk by the mural every day. In this location, 66th and Hollis in Emeryville, there is a man who sells hot dogs and chips across the street. The main road, Hollis is full of busy fast cars, which make it difficult for pedestrians to cross. I have seen three accidents in the month it took me to paint the mural. I have had the pleasure of meeting other artists, families, and neighbors from homes and businesses around.

Emeryville was originally Ohlone land where the Natives would fish for clams, oysters and use the acorns of the oak tree for trade and to eat! After the Spanish colonized in 1776 they created factories and Emeryville became known for industrial wealth. Specifically meat packaging plants, and paint companies (Sherwin-Williams). Shell Oil Company started in Emeryville and moved to Houston, Texas in the 1970’s.

As the town of Emeryville grew, it became known as “Rotten City”, “E’Ville” as it became a sort of Wild West where you could find brothels, places to gamble and drink.  There were even greyhound races, hence the logo of the rotten city, the racing monkey upon a greyhound. It was its own city in the midst of San Francisco and Oakland. Hence the imagery of the Rotten City logo: gambling chips, alcohol and racing monkey on the back of a greyhound.

The city is small, about 2 square miles and most of that is bordering the Bay of San Francisco. There is an incredible marina, and public parks to enjoy. The views of San Francisco are stunning from Emeryville. The city has just started a Mural Arts Committee that is seeking out more muralists to paint walls in the city.

I feel so lucky to have bene apart of this project! The staff at Rotten City were incredible and super accommodating. The owner Jonas I want to thank for his trust in me and because of that, my creative and artistic flow was able to come through. Thank you!