Tag Archives: Molly Keen Art

Welcome to the “Flying Colors Mural Project”


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.


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. 


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.


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!


Full Moon – Art Auction


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:

Rotten City Mural – Emeryville, CA


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!



Bellingham to Vancouver



We made it to Canada! Check out the above photo of the 4 bands with a burning man sculpture that was used 20 years ago and is pedaled by solar energy! Canada was epic and we are so happy to be traveling now around the islands and B.C. We love this place!


What a beautiful ride we had to get into Canda! Crossing the border from United States to Canada was a breeze, we had to ride on the I-5 to cross but it was relatively easy. We only had 33 miles to ride this day, so we swam, took lots of breaks (as we always do) and arrived to Vancouver to the house of Adley’s brother, Chris. Chris let us stay in his back yard and was so gracious with his home. There are now 16 of us, three more joined us in Canada. Craig, our drummer, Dara an amazing writer and experienced cyclist that took a group across the U.S. with a theatre group the Agile Rascals and then Mega, who juggles, sings and dances. She has ridden with the crew before in previous bike tours.


We stayed a total of 4 nights and played a gig at the Vancouver Art Gallery in conjunction with eatArt that helped us with the burning man sculpture. We had a beer garden and a dance floor. There was also tricycle bikes they brought that people could test ride that we pretty amazing.

It was an incredible show as we played on the steps of the gorgeous gallery.


The show was incredible. I was pulling people from the street with my stilts and our sound was incredible. It was a sunny and beautiful day. It was great to relax and take time in one city. Vancouver is gorgeous right on the water and at the edge of huge mountains and glorious hiking. I was so excited to get to know the area and to get to celebrate Canada day! July 1st, they celebrate the joining of three colonies, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the Providence of  Canada into a single dominion within the British Empire. This all happened on July 1, 1867 .

We are in good high spirits and excited to continue the tour, meeting beautiful people and playing a lot of music. Have you gotten a chance to hear all the musicians on tour with us yet?

Check out the links below!


Happy 2016 -New Year Mural


Happy New Year everyone! I am so excited to ring in 2016 with a creative and artistic start! Today I paint a mural in a music studio and its going to be space/astrology/star mapping/geometrical themed!

I am excited to get back in the studio and begin to work on some murals, canvas, windows, and solo/group shows! This is a different direction, but exciting. I spent some wonderful time with family in Seattle and now onto making art from the heart back in Oakland!

Happy 2016! Best wishes to all and stay tuned for more on the mural front!



Tijuana, Playa de Mision y Ensenada, Mexico


Never had I experienced that type of cycling as what I did in Tijuana! I’ll explain…It was an amazing city despite what many people say and I had a great time there thanks to our hosts and my cycling buddy Adley.


The ride was crazy from San Diego to the border maybe 15 miles of an easy ride. We took a ferry and loved chatting it up with the captain.

After the ferry you pass a couple of navy bases and it feels almost like Armageddon. There are US planes with people jumping out of them with parachutes, helicopters everywhere and guys and girls running through obstacle courses. You hear gun shots practicing  in the background and it feels almost scary.

Anyways we cross the border after exchanging money and are sent through a whirl wind of people. We pass the hundreds of people trying to get back into the states, an incredible amount of people! I couldn’t believe it. Apparently Mexico is one of the most visited borders in the world.

I received 6 months of visit from Mexico and then we were off. We had friends Liz and Elvis who live in downtown Tijuana so we were off. The problem now is that we don’t have GPS so we were sent to the streets  to ask people for directions. From experience most people you ask for directions they tell you anything they can and typically it’s not the right way. If they don’t know something they still tell you a way. There is a need to not just admit they are wrong.

After an hour of searching we found the house had an amazing time with Liz and Elvis who had experience bike touring in Europe and were just incredible people. Great conversations, good food, and wonderful hosts.

In the morning we were off by 11 and that’s when the chaos started. No bike lane and a major highway. Add in an element of being lost and we were in a crazy situation. We figured it out quick but there was a good six miles that I didn’t even change gears or think about how hard to was to ride up the hills because I was so concerned about the cars. This is a different ball game and the way the cars were driving was a wake up call to always give the right away to the car and always assume that they don’t see me. I’ve never riden like this before!

But all was fine and safe. We made it though to playa de mission almost 40 miles where we were lost again looking for a biking hostel. Those 40 miles seemed like 80 because we were just riding so hard.

We were searching for a place to sleep when suddenly we were honked at by a white Subaru that (in english) asked us where we were going. It was a woman and her friend and she invited us to stay in her guest house. It was getting dark so we jumped at it and came to a huge house on the hillside complete with food a bed and comfort all over it. Warm showers and a delicious meal later we were in biking heaven.



The next day we rode 10 miles to Ensenada when we got pulled over by a “green angel” who told us we were not allowed to ride on the toll road and that we had to go around through a mountain in order to get to Ensenada. We pleaded with him to give us a ride as we weren’t allowed to continue and he agreed to take us to enaenada. I was so happy because I really didn’t want to go around.

We arrived in Ensenada, fixed out bikes at a local bike shop and ate with some hilarious people who reminded us of cartoon characters and had a great time.



We stayed with a friend of glorias, daphne and stayed 2 nights as a storm hit and we didn’t want to ride in the rain! She had two children and seven and we had our hands full playing with them and being special guests in the house. We left her house just a half hour before another big storm hit. We made it out in time and even had time for some wine tasting at the oldest winery in North America San tomas!



Mural Making in Punta Arenas, Chile


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.


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.






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.