Tag Archives: Molly Keen Art

My Largest Mural Yet, ‘Portland Perspective’

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Public Art in Lakewood, Colorado

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

‘Starlit’, Keen + Lyft Collaboration

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

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

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

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

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“Dogs of Danville” Public Art Installation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    

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

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

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

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

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

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

Berlin Mural – “Arriving”

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About The Mural:

Title: “Arriving”

Where: Comepackbackers, Berlin, Germany

Dimensions: 9′ x 20′ x 0′

Medium: Acrylic Paint, Indoor, Private Mural

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

Artist: Individual, Molly Keen

 

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

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

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

My Germany Experience:

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

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

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

 

 

Welcome to the “Flying Colors Mural Project”

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

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

Mission:

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

History:

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

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

Goal:

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

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

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

In Conclusion…

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

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

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

Full Moon – Art Auction

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

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

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!

 

Bellingham to Vancouver

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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

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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!

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Tijuana, Playa de Mision y Ensenada, Mexico

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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

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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.

Psychedelic Car Mural in Puerto Natales, Chile

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A new mural in Puerto Natales, Chile and it is my first piece in this beautiful country. It also marks the start of something special for my mural making path. I tried spray paint for the first time and on a car for my first time as well. I had a lot of chances and time to experiment with the new medium. But first a little about Puerto Natales because the energy of the city really inspired and influenced the way I painted the car.

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Puerto Natales, Chile is where the sunsets at 11:30pm for the start of summer begins here. The mysterious glimpses of light disappear not too long after 12:30pm. The crisp air looms wisely amongst the mountains that are landscaped over a cold windy lake. Here the tony black and neon birds play and flutter together.

The town is small. The people here know each other and you are never too far away from meeting another adventure seeker. Beyond the super touristy mask of Natales and away from the boardwalk or Main Street is a lifestyle of tranquility, oozing with peace, long gorgeous trekking, rock climbing and a clean energy.

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Where: Erratic Rock Hostel, owned by Bill native of Salem, Oregon who has lived in Natales 15 years. The hostel has simply a wonderful vibe, homey energy as the Erratic family definitely knows how to make a person feel welcomed. With a limitless supply of classic movies on VHS, a cozy gas fireplaces, homemade bread and peanut butter, Sunday brunches and a wonderful network of interns who work and commit to helping out in the hostel for a couple months a year make the place a unique home that just happens to be a hostel. It’s a special place.

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Here is everyone that volunteers and helps out at the hostel, we took a lovely bike ride against the wind near the coast. Just stunning views, good people, and the outdoors. While my stay at Erratic Rock we went biking, I learned how to crochete, and we never went without an empty stomach or cup of black coffee.

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Side note, I was able to paint a guitar while staying the the hostel as well for a friend. Here is a little peek.SAM_2178

The Mural – Progress Shots and Process

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I was super nervous to start painting, more nervous than I have ever been to start a piece just simply because it was a new medium and a new canvas. Here you can see the hesitation, and just me learning how to use a can. But I knew that I had to keep moving with the piece and not think too much! Here above is when I first just started the piece and I washing the car on the side walk. The police were upset and came to tell me to move the car and wash it in the river. Go figure.

The story of how I got the van gig: I was renting gear for the Torres del Pine trek at Base Camp which is a rental store just next to Erratic. It is actually owned by Paul, Bill’s younger brother. So the rental store wast open at 10am on a Saturday so I had to wait for them to open.

I was walking away from the rental shop when I saw a friend I had made in Puerto Madryn, Argentina. He waved and signalled me to come into the hostel. The first thing I was greeted with was the manager Julie, also from Oregon who said “Want a cup of coffee? You can’t have a real Sunday morning without black coffee.” I immediately was intrigued. Well after 1 hour of playing cards and chatting with one of the employees, Ruth, she mentioned that they had just bought a van needed someone to paint it. I volunteered immediately and made plans to stay at Erratic after my 5 day trek into the national park. It was seemingly simple and effortless. !

Accommodation: Mural in exchange for a bed, food and rental gear. I rented quite a few things from the owners brother, Paul, next door called “Base Camp”. It is a great little business: a bar and rental store which is super successful and a nice pairing to his brothers hostel.

What I learned: How to use spray paint, and more importantly how to use it effectively in the Patagonia wind. What an experience. Because the wind was so strong and it rained quite a bit it was quite the challenge or maybe an excuse to stay longer. The first couple of layers were hard as I was experimenting and getting used to the medium. Once I got rolling and more comfortable it was fast, so much faster than painting and in a different. The concepts of color, content and design are the same, but the process is different and there were shortcuts and tricks I learned.

At first, I kept wanting to put my fingers on the car and change the outcome but the paint dries almost immediately and this was hard to get used to. I realized how much I love using my hands. This is why I like painting so much. The paint brushes and the way the bristols move.

Anyways, with spray you just use a finger, nothing more. Maybe some stencils if you want. Literally my pointer finger and my thumb on my right hand were super sore after the third day painting. Pretty crazy to think that’s what created the whole piece. Just my finger!

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Length of time: Almost 2 weeks including 5 days where I went trekking through Patagonia to get experience. I painted maybe 2-3 hours every other day or so. I will return to Erratic for Christmas. My second Christmas away from home and today marks the first day of Sumer here in Southern Patagonia in Chile and Argentina. Pretty crazy how South I am!

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Progress Shot for the Front:process3

Progress Shot for Van Side 1:process1

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After I painted the van, and ironically on my last night we got to take the van out (me and some of the volunteers) to go camping. We ended up driving to Lake Sofia, about 45 minutes out of town and I got to sleep in the car. I was so happy that I was able to get into the car, and experaince the van outside of Puerto Natales and on the road. What a gift!

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I feel super fortunate for the experiance. I love all the people that I have met from Erratic and feel super special to be apart of the family there in Puerto and for those friends who live all over the world. Thank you Erratic and watch out for more spray painting murals coming soon! I even went back to Erratic Rock for Christmas. Merry Christmas everyone!

erratic rock christmas

Puerto Madryn Mural, Argentina

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Where: Puerto Madryn which is the start of Patagonia and known for whale watching, seals swimming, kayaking and visiting the beautiful peninsula where you can see penguins and if you are lucky orca whales (which actually are a species of dolphins and not whales) trying to attach the lazy seals on the beaches. Apparently, it is one of the only places in the world where you can see it happen. I went on a whale watching boat tour where I saw gigantic whales jumping in and out of the water and even a mother and her baby! Did you know that whales are solitary animals that only are found together the first year when a baby is born (mother and child) and when the whale’s mate (female and male). Pretty crazy, they are solitary other than that. After a year the mom just leaves the baby and they never see each other again.

The hostel was called La Casa de Tounens, owned by a young French man and filled with many travelers from all over the world.

What: A large outdoor mural, on concrete and done with acrylic latex house paint. The mural was influenced by the boat tour I took and I found the space perfect for this large whale of a tale.

The length of time: It took one week, about 4 hours a day.

Accommodation: Free food and bed. I was in a 6 person dorm. There was great hang out spaces and a movie room which was lovely to catch up on some movie time.

What I learned: Headphones and music are not always better. I have an idea that I need music to work, but here the birds were so loud and there were not too many people outside hanging out so I worked without music and found a new source of inspiration from it.

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Train -Buenos Aires to Bahia Blanca to Puerto Madryn

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When I heard that you could take a night bus to Puerto Madryn that takes 9 hours I thought, “Are you crazy? I need to cut that trip in half and take my time!” Well, you could say that’s what I did…but a little more than what I wanted.

The experience of taking a train is one that I have always wanted. I’ve never been on a long distance train or an overnight train so I wanted to try it. Maybe I over romanced the idea, but it was something I was determined to do. The train was also 1/4 the price as well.

$95 AR Pesos ($11 USD) is what it cost contrasted to the $430 AR Pesos ($53 USD) for a bus. It was only 4 more hours and for all buses I’ve endured the last year I was up to the challenge.

When I arrived early to the train station (which was gorgeous and made me nostalgic like i had seen in movies) I found my seat next to two people, and thank goodness next to the window. The weird thing about the seat was that it was more of a bench because we were all sharing the same cushion. You could feel everyone adjusting and moving.

No problem I thought. But as more and more people started piling on the train the hot neon lights and noise was making me feel claustrophobic, maybe 150 people were in one car and it was the type of train that had some seats facing each other. So much energy and chaos.

I had a moment right before we left where I thought to myself “Should I just get off now? I know there’s a night bus I can take and it’s just a mere $95 pesos and subway stop away. You have time go go go and get off!!! Go go go! There is no way you can stand this for 12 hours!”

Then the other part of me calmed me down and said “You wanted the train experience don’t cop out and fail before you even try”. So I stayed. Mistake? Some could see it that way. I look at it as an experience I can learn from.

Well sure enough as the train starts slowly, the noise and chatter gets louder. “Surely it will get more quiet as we make our way into the night.” I thought. Argentinians can stay up all night and never get tired I swear. Even the children are up at 4:00 am. So it’s super loud, I had headphones but I could still hear and smell the newly paired couple who were sitting next to me kissing and telling each other their life stories because they were falling madly in love with each other and did I mention smoking cigarettes? So I opened the window but then the surging neon lights were attracting flocks of bugs from outside so now bugs were lining my face waiting for a shot at the light. Calm. Calm. Calm. I told myself. Only 12 more hours. Calm. Everything changes. I kept saying.

I got up to use the bathroom and when I finally entered the bathroom it’s hot boxed with cigarettes and weed and there’s just a whole in the floor which was the bathroom. Yikes.

I didn’t sleep at all. The train turned into 11 hours then 12 then 13 then 13 and 30 minutes then 14 and finally and we arrived. I couldn’t believe that I made it. I really couldn’t. BUT with all that said I am proud of myself for taking the train. I followed my rule of “Don’t let anyone tell you if something is good or bad. You must figure it  out by your own experience.” I got my train experience, I got what I wanted. Now I appreciate buses. Now I understand how beautiful it is I have your own seat and how a dark and quiet bus is paradise.

Then when I got in at 11:00 am the train terminal I had to walk 15 blocks to the bus terminal. Found out there was only 8:30pm buses so I knew I had to stay in Bahia and kill almost 10 hours waiting!

The ticket was $321 pesos ($37.5 USD) and almost 10 hours. Easy breezy ride and trust me I slept the whole time!

The Big Modern City – Buenos Aires

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I planned for one or two days in the city of Buenos Aires before arriving. Well, as most of my travels it turned into 3 weeks. I stumbled upon a lovely friend named Emilia, a native of Buenos Aires; she offered to take me in for ¨one night¨. The universe sends us what we need in the right time and Emilia was it for me. I was feeling tired, I wanted a travel buddy and was thinking I wanted to change a little bit how I was feeling. Emilia was not exactly what I expected, but so much more than what I could of imagined. You could call her a ¨soul friend¨ as we just clicked and I was recharged. Nights out, theater parties, coffee dates, going to plays, dressing up, dressing down, potlucks, cooking meals together, going through a break up together, going to her cabin, meeting new friends, hanging out with her family and just plain living life in the present together, we both found a friendship that will last lifetimes. Really beautiful.

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 I celebrated mother’s day with her family, her mother’s birthday and just little visits with her grandmother, uncle and extended family. Being in Buenos Aires for me was more like a vacation for travelling. I felt so at home, and like I was visiting a family. They really took me in and I could feel all the love and sincerity.

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Emilia changed the way I look at travelers and opened me up to be more accepting and nonjudgmental of people. She has inspired me to take couchsurfers (people who crash on your couch) when I go back home and she gave me a new inspiration to travel and a zing back in my enthusiasm for life! I hope to meet up with her in the North of South America.

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Emilia lived in the neighborhood of Palermo, great area. Super trendy, cafe shops that I would hang in for hours, really interesting murals and great energy. Oh and she also had a cat named ¨Luz¨ (light) who became my good friend.

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At first Buenos Aires reminded me so much of being at home in the States because of its fast paced, stylish and modern lifestyle. The transit subway ¨Subte¨ throughout the city is super easy to use to get around and the city is also bike friendly lined with green pathways. There is a strong Spanish, French and European influence. The architecture is modern; some parts reminded me of San Francisco and some of Times Square in New York. There is a street called 9 de Julio that is the widest street in the world. Huge! I could not believe I was in Argentina. So different than the rest of South America!

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The animals in BA are treated differently as well. It seems as if everyone has a pet and there are tons of dog walkers. I could not handle how amazing it was to see these dog walkers. So serious.

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My friend Courtney from preschool ended up coming to travel and visit with me for a little over a week. We explored parks, saw some an amazing play and a horrible play and it was beautiful to catch up. She stayed in the same place I was, at Emilia’s.

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The two of us stayed at a Yoga Farm for a couple of days. We worked 4.5 hours in the morning, got 4 vegan meals a day, yoga and meditation. The farm was called “Eco Yoga Farm” and was located about 1.5 hours from Buenos Aires by bus and taxi. It was a nice break, met some cute animals and worked hard hours. We only stayed a couple of days but it was nice to get out of the city. Being with a friend who I have known since I can remember was also a great reminder of home and to see how much each of us has changed was incredible.

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On a logistical note I broke my guitar a little while ago and I got it fixed in BA. It takes five days. It broke while I was travelling. Probably from a corner that I knocked into. So for $200 AR Pesos ($22 USD) and got the whole thing fixed! The front part of the guitar, just snapped in half.

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How to get to Buenos Aires from Cordoba: There is a 9 hour bus for $320 AR Pesos ($36 USD) from Cordoba to Buenos Aires. Left at 9 pm and arrived at 7 am. There is also a bus called “ounce” which is cheaper $270 AR Pesos but adds on about 3-4 hours. Depending on if you have time choose wisely!

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Cheese and Wine Country – Cafayate, Argentina

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Just 4 hours outside of Salta, Argentina the adorable town of Cafayate is settled in the dry area great for making wine and goat cheese.

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I took some cheese tasting and wine tours and had a lovely time playing my guitar in all the beautiful nooks and crannies this place had to offer.

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We rented bikes for the day $70 Pesos ($9 USD) a person and hit up as many winery’s and cheese farms we could. Many places were cheap and wine and cheese starting at $15 Pesos ($1.85 USD) a pack or bottle.

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There were tons of baby animals, cats, dogs, sheep and goats. The cheese was some of the best cheese I have ever tasted, and I must admit, some of the best priced as well.

The land around Cafayate is dry, dry, dry. They get rain every 6 months so all is dirt roads and seco (dry in Spanish) plants. Because of this, the grapes produced in this region are one of a kind. Unfortunately many if the wineries we went to only export within South America as they are small and there is no need to send them far.

I want to be just famous enough of an artist to be able to draw on walls of the places I go. Just to draw on walls.

I want to be just famous enough of an artist to be able to draw on walls of the places I go. Just to draw on walls.

I loved Cafayate if I had more time this would for sure be a place where I would spend it. I fantasised about making a mural here. Maybe in the future!

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Cordoba, Argentina

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Have you heard of couch surfing? It’s a online website that connects travelers all over the world with local people that will provide a bed for free. It’s free to use and a great way to mix up traveling as you get to know the culture at a deeper and more intimate level than a hostel beaches you stay with locals. The website is couchsurfing.org and I would highly recommend it.

The lovely couple that let me stay with them a couple of nights

The lovely couple that let me stay with them a couple of nights

There is also another website I used while on Cordoba, only because I was traveling with a cyclist. It’s only for people who travel with a bicycle and its called warm showers. Warmshowers.org is the same as couch surfing just exclusive for cyclists.

I stayed with my cyclist friend Lukas and we joined up with Luciano and Sole who are from the Cordoba county and they are artists. They both own a company called Cassiopeia Ceramics and make beautiful cups, vases, tea sets, hanging pots, bowls, and more. They have a tiny khelm and make all the work in their house.

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When we arrived they were hosting a Ferria (art show) and they had all their friends over, good food, mate to drink, and group dinners. It lasted the whole weekend and they were still so willing to host Lukas and I. I am so constantly blown away at how willing the people are to take care of foreigners. I’ve never experienced this kind of trust and hospitality. Cooking food for us, treating us like a old friend with such love and respect. Makes me think twice about all that I have and how sharing makes everything better. Such a wonderful lesson.

Luciano every other Wednesday goes to one of the local radio stations and draws while the radio announcer sings. Once a week Sole teaches a pottery class in their house and loves to teach people. I feel so inspired by this couple and they do all because they love to, not because they have to.
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While in Cordoba for 5 days we went to parks, cooked a lot, made some ceramics, went to the river, attended art fairs in the streets, and walked all around the city.

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The two will be off with their bicycles next month north through South America and Central America. I wish them nothing but the best and feel so grateful for such light and inspiration.

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Vipassana Retreat at Dolores, Argentina

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Oh the beautiful country side and valley outside of Cordoba, Argentina.  Skin-crackling dry, scattered-spotted playful rivers, lovely local artisan stores selling olives, honey & olive oil, and friendly people all with the infamous Argentina accent (which I am finally getting used to).

In this region I went to the small pueblo of Dolores for yet another dose of Vipasana Meditation. This time is was three days instead of ten but the same rigarous schedule of meditating 12 hours of a day 4am-9:30pm with no talking, no writing, no reading and no contact with the outside world or others. What a beautiful inward journey to spend time alone in silence. You would be surprised how much is revealed whilst meditating.

Many people think meditation is about not thinking, when in fact, it’s just the opposite. Your mind is almost impossible to keep quiet as our daily lives provide stress an responsibilities. Our society has programmed into our conscious little voices that remind us constantly, “be productive,” and “you should be doing something!”. Essentially mediation is looking at the way the brain functions and thinks and learning how to control the reaction to the thoughts rather than the thoughts themselves. That comes with time and isn’t the goal. The goal is to let everything happen naturally, observe and not react.

In fact, meditation is a lot of thinking, constantly judging and craving for outside things and material objects. In a way, we have forgotten how to live in the moment. Meditation provides our minds with a tool in order to remain calm and harmonious with all that our brain conjures up. If you have a “to do” list type brain then through meditation you learn to be confident in the process rather than the ultimate “check off” at the end. If you always have to be moving and can never sit still, you learn how to become peaceful and embrace this over-active part. You start to become a master of your own energy and of that around you. You thought learn how powerful we really are. The best part about it all, are that all the answers that you’ve ever pondered or wanted to know are inside you. We just have to remember how to listen.

When I tell people about meditation they respond always along the lines of “Sitting and meditating that long? I could never do that!” And I respond the same, “Well then you of course you cant and never could, with that attitude!”

It’s simple. All is simple yet we make it complicated. You say you aren’t good enough, then you are not good enough. You say you can’t do it, well of course you can’t. You say you hate your job, why would you expect to love it? When we create simple thoughts in our brains they manifest themselves throughout our life. Be careful what you think and how you spend your time. If you meditated over it for more than 12 hours you would come to realise as a experiential truth that a single thought can transform into a reality.

There are so many things in this life that are dull an full of suffering with oozing negativity. Those things will always exist, all our job here is to do is to focus on the positive. Life will always be negative if you see it that way. But there is always positivity that is waiting to be tapped into, it’s just a matter of choosing to come out of our own misery that we have created. We created it, and we are the only ones that can come out of it. No one else can do it for us. It’s just a matter of our free will and choosing to accept the responsibility.

I don’t think anyone is really ever “ready” to do this course. Just like we can’t prepare perfectly for traveling the world or for death, you are never really be “ready”. But that’s what’s so wonderful about life, you never will be perfect enough, ready enough, sufficiently prepared. All you can do is be who you are and accept every part of that. In this way all the truth will come to you and all the things you do and encounter will become bliss rather than misery. It’s a choice to make!

If your interested in attending a course it’s all run by volunteers and there are courses in every country almost once a month. Free food, bed, and course. They are based on donations and thy require you to stay the full 10 days. Think you could be ready to start listening to yourself on a deeper level? 10 days and your whole world could change.

What the heck is Vipasana? Click Here for more information

Dharma Vipasana Website

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