Category Archives: Murals

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.

 

‘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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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.

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?

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!

 

Earth Day Mural 2017

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This Earth Day I rode my bicycle with the Biketopia Music Collective  from Oakland to Bayview to help pedal the stage at the Bayview Opera House earth day celebration in San Francisco, CA. We pedaled the stage for musical acts with using just four bicycles and friends to pedal them. What a beautiful day!

The aim of this day-long mural was to involve as many elementary students in the creation of the piece. Allowing for freedom, exploration, and creativity to be free.

I was so lucky to paint a community mural with some of the schools of Bayview. It was incredible to paint on stage with the youth and create the piece with them. The music is by Heather Normandale and the band that I live painted with was Audio Pharmacy. It was a successful day and I am so thankful to of been apart of it! Check out the video now!

 

 

Painting in Joshua Tree

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Twice a year, the Joshua Tree Music Festival happens in the desert of Southern California making up the Mojave and Colorado desert. Its stunning, the size of Rhode Island and one of my places to gather to meet other artists, listen to international music and get to know more about Joshua Tree.

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This is my third festival with them. This year I decided to be apart of the Art Auction where 21 artists get together to do live painting throughout the festival. At the end, the pieces are put on display for a silent art auction where half the proceeds go to the music education fund in Joshua Tree. Its an amazing way to engage artists and the community. I love that the festival puts such value on the visual arts.

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This year I decided to listen to some music and enjoy the festival before I immediately started painting. Last festival I had to paint an 8 foot by 6 foot piece so I was a bit more stressed out. This year it was 2 1/2 feet by 2 1/2 feet and I could carry it with me wherever I wanted. There was shade, thank goodness and I could actually listen to all the live music and I met a lot of people because they would enjoy the progress of my piece throughout the festival.

   

Here are some process shots of how I painted the murals. Of course the background first, then slowly deciding where I wanted to put people and the parts of the festival. I walked around with my board for this part and just sketching in front of what I was painting. This was one of my favorite parts because people were super intrigued with this process. This also came with sticky notes so I could play with the composition and make sure I had room for the entire festival and all the things that made it so special.

I spent most of my time shaded in the “Bowl” that included 3 musical stages and performances from 10am-11:30 pm with artists rotating almost every 1.5 hours. I listened to almost every set of music that was played. Quality music and painting combined made for a dreamy weekend. Below you can also see the silent art auction and how they set it up for us on the sunny Sunday morning of the festival. People could go around and write on the clip board how much they wanted to bid. I was a little nervous!


   

I have to admit that I am not the biggest fan of people seeing my artwork before its done, let alone when it’s just in the planning stage and many people ask if it’s done. That is why I like the festival, to push myself and get out of my comfort zone of a studio or a blank wall inside alone. Music, friends, food, art, and workshops this festival was a great way to connect with the community and introduce art at the same time.

 

My absolute favorite part of the weekend was getting to interact with people who were speaking about my painting, and then I was able to paint them into my piece. I loved the children getting excited about their cartoon character coming to life. My painting was a hit with children as the same children would sneak back to my painting about once an hour to make sure they were still in the painting. They were so engaged and it was incredible to make them feel included and excited about something creative.

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In particular one girl, Chloe stood out to me as she was more than an admirer, she was an assistant. This beautiful 6-year-old gave me advice about what things she wanted to see in the festival, composition, and she even got to paint a little of it with me. I appreciated her excitement and loyalty to the piece. She helped me out, and I enjoyed the company. Her family, all featured in the piece, ended up purchasing the piece through the auction and I could not be happier about it. Pretty special and it was a great experience.

  

Until next festival, Joshua Tree, hope to see you all in May!

Mural in the Desert

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Where: Joshua Tree, California – Joshua Tree National Park at the Joshua Tree Music Festival; 8ft x 10 ft; Acrylic paint; 2016

Hot sticky dry heat; the type of heat that makes you want to shower with your clothes on. Gusts of wind make the sun bearable as live melodic music floats through the air leaving traces of dance moves. Joshua Tree Music Festival in Joshua Tree, California is a unique festival with gorgeous scenery and over 4 unique music stages with quality music from all over the world. I have found myself here for the second season in a row. It is a magical place located in South Eastern California and the park is slightly larger than that of Rhode Island. It is huge! It straddles the San Bernadino county and Riverside county border and has over two desserts, the Mojave and the Colorado each with their own ecosystem and different elevations.

File_000(6)This was the first mural I have painted for the festival and what an experience! There were hundreds of people getting to watch and explore the process with you throughout 4 days. The beginning of my murals are not my favorite as they are just one layer of many and many to come. Sometimes I get frustrated with this process as people immediately judge it and think that it is done. For example here is the start of my mural.

The Progression

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The Final Piece. 
Not much to see, but that is what is so beautiful about the art process. People do not know when it is done. They ask me all the time “Are you done” when I have barely begun. Process is so important because it teaches you not to be attached to the piece and to what the viewer thinks. I go through different layers of my art and it is hard to share this process sometimes. People ask me about it, want to know more. And to be honest, I do not sketch and I myself do not actually know what the final piece is going to look like. I prefer not knowing, and letting the experience of the setting, environment and people around me shape the way that I paint. That is super important to me, and talking about the piece is something I want to do, but more so on what the viewer experiences rather than what I intended the piece to be. We have so many opportunities in life to be told what to do, what to experience and what we should see. I want my artwork to be something that is always right, because it is a feeling and unique to each viewer.

I painted a total of 3 days in almost 100 degree weather and high blowing winds. It was not the easiest of tasks. Not to mention the fact that the board I was painting on was also moving with the wind! It was quite the experience. I had lots of patience and of course, the festival to take breaks and enjoy. I met so many wonderful people while painting. I was quite engaged with a handful of people that would come to me once or twice a day, check in and talk about the process. Many were surprised with the final piece. They would tell me that they would have never expected it to get to that point. I like that element of surprise. I had some great photographers take progress shots which was wonderful.
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My piece was next to a beautiful art installation about two years old. It was “The Swings” that had two large swings and you could play on them and feel child like with them. People loved the swings. They would stop at the swings way more often then they would look at my painting but of course, the painting was an after thought and they did come and see it if they were not too blissed out from the swing. I liked this experience because I could hear laughter of adults, children and older people that were so thrilled to have the swing experience. I think this had something to do with my painting. That emotion of you tummy going up and down, up and down. As well as the feeling of letting go. The laughter. Children saying “THIS IS THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE”. And there I was, quiet, observing in a secret spot just taking in all of the energy around me. Quite peaceful. It was a stunning installation. I was quite happy to be working alongside of it. The photo above, the rainbow metal structure is the swing.
There was also one interaction that really struck me and I will never forget. I was done with my painting, I had just finished on the Sunday, the last day of the festival. The sun was setting, I had taken all the pictures, cleaned up and was just sitting. I was looking at the final piece, wondering how I even created it and admiring the work, time and energy that I put into it. This was a contrast to the energy of the festival as people were running around and listening to music and dancing and I was able to exist in this alternative reality.So there I find myself admiring my piece alone.
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It is the last day and unfortunately the swings broke! No one was allowed to use them and they still would try to use them. I would do my best to tell people the bad news and ironically they would become more aware of my painting and I met more people this way. There were two women specifically that were trying to swing, and I said sorry-the swings are closed. Their attention was brought to my painting and they were speaking about it in front of it, not knowing I was the artist. I finally let them know that I painted it, and they were excited to chat about it. I told them my story about my mother and how I paint in her memory and the woman told me that she does the same. Her father passed just two years before and we had a wonderful time sitting in front of my painting connecting and getting to know one another. Really special and made me realize that in putting yourself out there, being vulnerable not only with painting in front of people, but in
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The mural took me about 20 hours total to paint, I used house paint that I got from ACE hardware. Just the basic colors and I mixed them. I use paint brushes and all is detailed with hand and paintbrush. I prefer the old fashioned way! I hope you enjoy the mural, whatever you see is what you are supposed to see. It is meant to be specific to the individual. Enjoy and thank you Joshua Tree for inviting me to paint with you!

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Mural in Oakland 

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Where: Oakland, California at the Oakland Music Compex (OMC) in West Oakland with acrylic paint; January 2016

Happy New Year Mural! This piece is located inside the music studio of musicians. The building is amazing and is home to many working artists who practice and record. While painting I could hear multiple bands at one time.

I started with the moon and got into a drippy white paint scene and then started with writing out the poetry that the musicians selected. Poetry, lyrics, words and drawings. The musicians and I (Sara and Max) came up with the concept. We wanted something with words, but not over the top. We wanted to words to fade out and then become stars and constellations. We made sketches this time, which I normally do not do, and it was helpful in the creation of the piece.

The Progression:

 

  



Here I am! This was day 2 in the process. Below are more detailed images of the poetry and intricacy of the words,

 

   

  

   

The writing is poetry from the band, it is not meant to be read easily. I want viewers to engage with the piece and have to try and read it. In addition it makes the energy more scattered and interesting. I like the idea that you have to work for it! I think I put something like 30 different poems and sayings and songs.

 

   

How long did it take: 4 days, 8-10 hours a day

What I learned: Painting on a ladder is dangerous. Especially if you are on the top step! Communicate with building managers before you begin the mural and take more progress shots! It would be great to do some progress videos.

The Exchange: Paid commission

Whats next? I am on the hunt for a studio space in Oakland so hopefully some shows and some good time for making new work!

 A Mural in Burlington, Vermont

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Vermont is a beautiful and magnificent place! It is the leading producer of maple syrup in the United States, it has forests that cover over 75% of the state! The green mountains are located within the state and the state is bordered by Massachusetts, New York, Quebec Canada and New Hampshire.  I ran into old friends, and made new ones. I never could of imagined it would of been this green and luscious, I am still in awe of the beauty and how friendly people were. Billboards are outlawed and there was no sign of cooperation’s, just tons of farm and local businesses.

I made my way to Burlington, Vermont after New York. We took a ferry about 20-30 minutes across Lake Champlain. I met with my friend, Cody that I met on a bike tour of the west coast and he actually met us on the other side of the ferry. He took us swimming and showed us around town. We got caught in a storm that was so intense but short. We met a woman who let us stay in her garage until it past.

It was great to catch up with Cody, to swap some bike touring stories and he hosted us for two nights. It was such a blessing. We also met wonderful people through warmshowers.org and turns out Ian knew them! Dan and Christine were their names and they help run a community bike shop and a bike shop in town. We ended up staying 1 week with them and so thankful for their hospitality. Their project is called Burlington Bike Project and if you click the name you can check out their project and website.

Their website also features me in their blog. You can click this link to check it out.

Who: Essentially the Old Spokes home is run as shop for just about anyone who needs help with their bike and then Bike Recycle Vermont helps create access to affordable education, job training opportunities, and a supportive and encouraging environment for people who need it!

Where: Burlington,Vermont

  

  

How long did it take: Only 3 full days of painting! This also included a day where many cyclists came through for a celebration of the North neighborhood called “The Ramble”. This included a community BBQ, displaying of the mural and tons of kids and adults asking about the mural. It was a pretty incredible space.

Dan and Christine introduced us to some beautiful people and we were able to plug into the Burlington scene pretty easily with their help. Potlucks, cooking, music listening and making, hair cutting and just hanging out I would move to Burlington because of the people and bike culture. They had a lovely co-op that we hung out at quite a bit speaking with cyclists about bicycle benefits, which Ian helps promote and run where you get benefits for riding bikes! It is as simple as that, empowering more cyclists to get moving and start commuting, touring, or just getting out there and riding. The program is amazing and I feel excited about helping out.

 

The mural was so much fun to create. I really enjoyed it, although its an older style I felt that it was the best thing for the Bike Shop and the community. I was able to paint certain local businesses and community organizations that the clients could relate to.

  
  
  

Here is the mural in detail, this was also one of the first times that I drew people in my painting. It was fun, I met some amazing people and wanted to include them. Ian is also pictured here with doughnuts as he handed out doughnuts to cyclists a couple mornings in the street. I drew Dan and Christine of course, and then I am meeting RJ and his children who helps organize Bike Party Burlington.


     

Here is more on the mural!

  

 I love to ride my bike. It makes me feel the true sense of the word free. I feel alive, I feel free, I feel strong and I feel like I can do anything in the world that I set my mind to. It is a beautiful feeling and a wonderful way to see the world.


  
  

We left Burlington after a week and headed to the state capital, Montpelier which is actually the smallest capital according to population in the United States. There our goal was to check in with all the businesses that supported Bicycle Benefits and make sure that they were still accepting cyclists and just promoting the cause. We tabled at the local co-op again and met some amazing people just encouraging people to get on their bikes. Bicycle benefits program is great it allows cyclists in many cities throughout the U.S. to buy a sticker for their helmet for only $5. Then they can go online and see the different local businesses where they get a discount. Discounts range from 5-20% off purchases, free cookies, free chocolate, free coffee, and more. It is allowing local businesses to support cyclists and cyclists getting rewards for cycling.

  
   

We got to ride through a lot of green beautiful mountains, I felt like I was back in Washington State. I am still in awe of the State.

   

   

Rain, rainbows, libraries, meeting new people!

              

I would absolutely live in Vermont, I loved it there. I think that I would have to live through a winter to actually understand what the state is all about. But either way I would be open. Thank you to all the people and friends that we met and spoke with. What a beautiful life! The plan now is to head east! New Hampshire and Maine!

Cookie Factory Mural

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Sweet smell of baking goodness fills my air as flour rises to my face and the sound of cookies dancing along the conveyor belt fill my existence. I climb high to the last step of the ladder, almost balanced and gaze at the factory high above all else. Spanish music is playing and I am put right back into my travels in Mexico. 5 days of painting and endless amounts of eating cookies, I finished a couple murals/projects for WOW Bakery Seattle company that stands for “WithOut Wheat”. The factory is based out of Kent, Washington.

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One of the main reasons that I painted for WOW was that they wanted their factory colorful and fun because they were filming for a TV show. Food Networks “How it’s made” was featuring WOW and I agreed to help make the factory a little more colorful and flowing.

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This past Friday they filmed a production TV series “How it’s made” for the cookies. The cookie factory was looking a little white and I agreed to help paint some of the walls and make the factory up with color.

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Where: WOW Bakery located in Kent, Washington United States.

What: A couple different murals, writing and cookie magic designs.

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Exchange: Paid gig now that I am back in the states. I charge based upon square footage and time.

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What I learned: What a unique experience painting among cookies being made and then being packaged. I was intimately in almost all corners of the factory painting various words, phrases and little cookies.  To watch the process start from butter and flour and then to smell the cookies being baked, watch them being cooled by fans, and then ultimately put into a little machine that spits them out into bags and then packaged and ready to go. One of my most favorite things was to watch them switch flavors and to always smell a different aroma in the air. The workers were super friendly and in fact many spoke Spanish so I was able to continue speaking.

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The Final Mural – Yucutan, Mexico

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Yucutan of Mexico! You can really feel the transition from the coast into the north and yucutan of Mexico. Incredible energy filled with ruins and the nicest people who smile and look you in the eyes and invite you over for dinner. Really made me feel special and many of the people if not all I met spoke Mayan and were super proud of their background. I tried to learn but in the end it was extremely hard!

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So in the yucutan is where I painted my final mural of my travels. I couldn’t go to Mexico without leaving a Molly Keen mark so I thought why not? I decided to head to the jungle and away from the city.

Starting the Process of painting the mural. I don’t like to draw before hand or have something in mind. I like to have paints in my hand and just go for it. Here I was going with the window. I jut kept going and going and all came as it came. I like this type of process without thinking and just feeling!

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Here is inside the Palapa, you can see it will be a private room and its all made from bamboo and adobe (mud, straw, flour and water)

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Here are details of the work. The more I painted the more ideas and comfortable I was with the shapes and patterns.

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What: A mural! Inside a “Palapa” (bungalow) made from bamboo and natural adobe sealant I painted inside next to a honeycomb shaped window.

Of course the window also inspired me as I usually do not work with straight lines and geometrical shapes so I decided to take a risk and try something new.

The exchange: Painting in exchange for food and bed.

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The final mural

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Here is the view from outside of the palapa.

Inspiration: Inspired by the glorious stars and beauty of the animal choir at night, the darkness and power of the stars left a standing impact on me. I could imagine myself in this time and place when the Mayans were around and looking up at those stars for guidance and acceptance and for knowledge. I related so intensely to this concept and I have never seen them this bright. Also I happened to be in this location during a meteor shower so that made it extra special.

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Me and the final work!
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Where: Libre Union, Mexico at a Community called "Lemurian Embassy". The location was close to famous ruins Chichen Itza (Disneyland of Mayan ruins) and in the middle of the jungle. Climate is hot, bugs are heavy and we cooked and ate outside around a fire every night. No electricity, no Internent, nice relaxing place.

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Mayan ruins are everywhere and scattered just as the cenotes d the region are. This part of Mexico is super important and special. Here are three baby falcons that were so scared to see me they started chirping and their mom came for me. Huge birds the babies had feet larger than their bodies and their eyes reminded me of cartoon characters. Special moment.

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Just a 20 minute walk away was a pyramid from the Mayans. It’s a small one, but no one controls it and it can just go and hang out. It’s big enough that you must hike and then you are able to see a 360 view of the whole jungle. Imagine that picture perfect view where you’re able to see above the tops of the trees. Simply breathtaking!

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I was inspired by the blue and pink color combination. Here is the sunrise from the morning I hiked to the temple that overlooks the whole jungle. The energy of the animals waking up in the jungle pierced me with tranquility and silence.!

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This location was perfect to enjoy all the Yucutan has to offer. There’s a system of “cenotes” there which are lakes/caves/sunk holes that are all connected through underground and underwater passageways. This makes the area great for diving and exploring.

Also there was a type of plant flower that was the most beautiful purple I ever saw. Tried to capture it, just stunning.

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Wow I went to a new cenote everyday after painting. I even jumped off one cenote jnto the sink hole 75 feet! It was the loudest and most painful “booom!” when I hit the water. Ouch. You can see a little blob near the top of the picture that’s me jumping!

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The pictures that were laid out on the top of the water was just beautiful. The reflection of the sky, connected to the ground.

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More color inspiration I love the contrast if the red and blue here.

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Here is more from the cenote. I really explored the area. Not so many people and tons of places to go. Everywhere you need to go we hitch hiked and this is one of my most favourite things to do as you can get to know local people.

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There you have it. The last mural, I make my return home this week and can’t wait to give everyone back home a big hug and kiss…and then start planning my next adventure 🙂

A Mural at The Gottardinis Finca en Tupungato, Mendoza Region

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The Weeping Willow Mural, Tupungato, Argentina.

Welcome to the Gottardini’s, the farm of love and care!

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What: A large mural of a “arbol saucey” which means willow tree in English. Inspired by the energy the actual tree they had on their property it was reminded me of my childhood on vashon island because we had a willow tree with a swing on it. I loved that tree.

Nestled at the base of Volcano Tupungato in the Midsts of the Andes Mountain range, flowing tinkering rivers, hot sweaty heat, delicious fresh food and good company!  This mural stands out to me and came at a perfect time for my last weeks in South America.

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The Gottardinis, an Argentian family full of enthusiasm and love. They welcomed me and my friend Jimmy with open arms and love.

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Here is Orlando the owner and one of the wisest loving men I have ever met. Enthusiastic about everything he taught me important lessons including how to stay true to yourself, love family and enjoy life.

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The ride to Tupungato was incredible you cross from Chile through the Andes and into Argentin. Literally when we got off the bus at the bus station we were greeted with family, dogs, a stop for coffee and milk and then before you know it we met uncles and aunts and nieces and nephews and father in laws and friends.

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We made homemade pear jam that we picked from the trees and ate meals together. What a lovely treat!

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Here is the shower, you fill it up with water (the bucket) with a hose and then it gets connected to a plug to be heated. Amazingly funcational and sustainable. I want one whenever or if I get a house!

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We got a little carried away with paint one night but life on the farm was simple. We went swimming in a little lake by day and cooked together by night. Beautiful life!

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We also attempted to sun dry tomatoes. Here is Orlando above with the tractor. He said that he would rather just work with one process of the wine process as its important to keep things simple and be passionate and really good at one thing. I respect him for that.

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It is a quaint town, super friendly people. We arrived in great timing as summer season is harvest season in Mendoza Region. The first two weeks of march are called Videmia which celebrates the “cosecha” or harvest. It’s the largest and most important celebration in the region and thy even had a beauty pageant declaring queen of the videmia! All the orchards were busy with workers picking “uvas” or grapes.

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Orlando was kind enough to take us on a tour of the area, including a look at some of the harvesting, wine tasting and a visit to the river. He collected bugs by hand and then tried to fish for trout. This guy is great!

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At the farm there were Walnut trees, olives, cherries, watermelon, corn, apples etc. and we were welcomed to pick and eat or cook with whatever we desired. I was in heaven.

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We camped the whole week, fell asleep to crickets and moonlight and would have tranquil days enjoying the sunshine on bike rides, drinking beers in town, and hanging out with the family durin asados!

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Here is Teresa, such a joy to have connected with her. This is her first painting that she made with courage! It was done with oils on the outside of the house. She is from Italy and we spoke only spanish. Just 19 years old can you belive it, pretty incredible lady!

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Where: Tupungato, Argentina. It’s located about 2 hours from famous wine capital Mendoza. Tupungato is Known for its quality wines and friendly people.

Accommodation: Fresh veggies and fruits and nuts and beer and we had our own little house and kitchen. I camped at night but by choice it was such a beautiful place underneath walnut trees in an orchard.

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What I learned: Family is important. The way this family would spend time together, have asados (BBQs) was inspiring. I learned that walnuts have two shells, that the Andes are a beautiful mountain range and that you can do anything you set your mind to.

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Here are some murals I found in Santiago that I loved! Just a side note!

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Mural Making in Punta Arenas, Chile

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Where: Punta Arenas, a buzzing city that is just four hours south of Puerto Natales on the Magellan Straight in Patagonia, Chile. Filled with cruises, sailboats, murals, sculpture, wildlife and high pitch windy shores.

I found a homey Chilean restaurant called ¨La Marmita¨ which means the cooking pits owned by Lorena and Alfredo.They immediately took warmly to me and this was the first time as well that I was marketing myself in person as opposed to using email.I told them I would be around for two weeks, showed them my images of my work on my phone, and told them for food and money we could do an exchange. 3 days later and I got a call from them saying that they would love me to paint a border around a blackboard for them. I agreed, seemed reasonably small and after I took a look at their vegetarian menu we had a deal.

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The exchange: 10 hours of work for $60USD, and meals from the restaurant (included desserts, juices, and coffee). I ended up taking showers there and using their WIFI as well because I was camping or staying on a sailboat and did not have an access to those luxuries!

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What: A mural border around a ¨to be¨ chalkboard which will showcase the specials for the day. My instructions were limited and the direction was rather free. Lorena said she wanted a colorful border with birds and flowers and that she trusted me. I love when clients trust me, it makes for such better work. She gave me a lot of space, and freedom to do what I needed to do. Very accommodating.

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What I learned: Never take for granted the love and support someone gives you. Accept kindness and let love in. The couple really made me feel at home. They always told me to treat the restaurant like my own house, made me lunches with their 9 year old son an just treated me with love and respect. I learned how to accept all of it and be present with them every time I was at the restaurant. Acceptance.