Tag Archives: murals

Berlin Mural – “Arriving”

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About The Mural:

Title: “Arriving”

Where: Comepackbackers, Berlin, Germany

Dimensions: 9′ x 20′ x 0′

Medium: Acrylic Paint, Indoor, Private Mural

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

Artist: Individual, Molly Keen

 

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

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

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

My Germany Experience:

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

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

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

 

 

A Keen Mural in Ericeira, Portugal

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The third mural stop on my 3.5-month journey of creating murals throughout Europe landed me in Ericeira, Portugal: a special village beach town located just 45 minutes outside of Lisbon.

Here, I spent a couple of days walking through cobblestone alleyways with old white buildings with blue and yellow painted accents. I found myself walking every morning along the ocean with so many different beaches to explore in what seemed like every direction. 

 

   

The Mural

I was fortunate to get to work with a local woman, Ana where I stayed in her 3 story family home that she has converted into a hostel. The hostel was not open at that point, so I had the whole place to myself, located just one block from the sea cliffs that poured into the Atlantic. Here, I could see the ocean from my room and hear the sounds of the waves.

Title: Bright Zebra

Dimensions: 40 x 18 x 0, Stairwell

Where: Ericeira, Portugal – Fisherman’s House

Medium: Spray Paint, Montana Colors

Length: February 20-27, 7 days 4-5 hours a day.

Accommodation: A 3-story hostel all to myself!

 

    

I traveled to the Ericeira during the winter time and “off-season”, there was rain, but we also had some beautiful days of sunshine as well. This meant that I had the whole place to myself! 

Here is the kitchen space of the accommodation I had, where Ana would cook me meals every day and come by for a coffee. These walls were often filled with my loud music as I love to paint to music. It is necessary.

I loved using spray paint, I didn’t love the mask but I made it work. I think I went up and down the stairwell a couple hundred times. I have used them before and like how smooth and quick the colors can layer and spread out. The color choices are quite bold and you must be confident with your hands. No holding back.

 

 

Below are images from one of the beaches 45 minutes away from where many surfers will go. There is even a surfing statue over the sea cliff to represent the surfers who always look to the different beaches every morning to see which beach has the best waves.

   

  

  

Featured above is Cabo de Rock, which is the westernmost point of the European part of Portugal. Welcomed with a lighthouse and a tiny trail to explore the cliffside, I felt as if I was in some parts of Big Sur in California. This part of the Portugal Coast reminded me so much of places in California the similarities were striking.

 

Also, 45 minutes outside of Ericeira was the residence of the old royal Portuguese family that lived in a huge castle 450 meters above the town of Sintra. I loved the colors and the surrounding gardens and was so impressed with the views and architecture.

Well, that’s all from me for now! Thanks again Ana for your generosity and always making me delicious vegetarian food! The beaches and the location of Ericeira are unforgettable. If you are ever near Lisbon or Porto, Ericeira is a must see!

“Into the Ocean” Portugal Mural

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10 days of painting, bicycle rides, rainy afternoons, noisy construction days, sunset visits to the ocean and views across the canal of the iconic city of Porto, Portugal.

The Mural

Title: “Into the Ocean”

Dimensions: 40′ x 10′ x 0′

Medium: Acrylic Paint

Location: Oporto Hostel, Porto, Portugal. 

Length: 7 days, 4-6 hours a day.

The mural was in the common space, in the same room as the kitchen and had a lot of natural lighting and was inside. The wall totaled 40 feet by 10 feet tall. I was able to use a bench to get to the top of the ceiling, no crazy ladders or tight spaces.

  

I had an incredible private room with my own bathroom and nice light. When you travel for more than a couple months, it’s important to have alone time and not always share a room with other people.

   

We purchased acrylic latex paint from the local hardware store, where they mixed paints in the same way I have seen all over the states. The man entered a number that went in accordance with a color, and the machine mixes the colors. I always enjoy this part of the process, as it is a behind the scene look into a new country.

History 

Porto is the second largest city in Portugal with 2.4 million people in the city and surrounding close area. Lisbon is the largest with 2.7 million people. The first known people that built the city were Celtic, around 300 BC. During the Roman occupation of the Iberian Peninsula, the city developed as an important commercial port with trade between modern Lisbon and modern Braga. 

Known for Port wine, art history and waterfront canal and Atlantic ocean views, the town of Porto is full of hills and cobblestone paths. With many gardens and public parks to explore, I took advantage of the city by exploring by bicycle.

     

One of my most favorite parts of Porto were my new friends, including Rodrigo, a beautiful Brazilian friend who was studying at the University in Porto. Even though I travel alone, I never feel alone because of people like Rodrigo! We even dyed our hair purple together.

    

 

10 days of painting with acrylic paint, bicycle rides, rainy afternoons, noisy construction days, with sunset visits to the ocean and canal of the iconic city of Porto, Portugal.

  

I was so lucky to get to see one of my most favorite muralists, Bordalo II, Lisbon Visual Artist that specializes in the creation of  3D mural sculptures made from recycled material. Car bumpers, metal parts of cars, plastic buckets and other parts found from trash. Ironically he had a huge show and series of new murals in San Francisco while I was in his hometown! I will definitely have to check those out when I get back home!

 

Barcelona Mural

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Check out the mural that I completed in January in Barcelona in 2018 at Hostel Primavera. What a wonderful experience as I met the most beautiful people and was able to spend a lot of time with my friends who live in the city. 

Where: Barcelona, Spain

What: The hostel is called Primavera Hostel, which in Spanish, means Spring! The mural felt appropriate to have flowers, blossoms, and colors the represent spring.

What I learned: This was the first time that I painted a ceiling and it came with a lot of problems. When you put a lot of paint on the brush or even the smallest amount of water, the drops will most definitely end up on your face or in your mouth! That is probably why I have paint on my face for most of the shots!

I love painting in different countries to experience the process of buying paint. Every country is pretty different. In Barcelona, I selected colors from a color wheel and drank an afternoon beer while waiting. The colors were mixed with a machine and the price for a quart of acrylic paint was only 4 euro which is almost 1/3 of the price in the states.

In Barcelona, the streets are designed all very similar and the mural that painted was located on the inside of one of these tall buildings. One of the neighbors watched my process of painting. I am so impressed with the city and the way that people live. Such a high quality of life.


I always sign my work M. Keen in honor of my mother. From now on I am thinking about just Molly Keen. What do you think? Thanks for reading, and looking forward to the next mural that I have already started in Portugal!

Thank you again to Guy, Pam and the rest of the family at Primavera Hostel. They were a wonderful place to stay and will soon have a newly remodeled second part of the hostel. Maybe I should go back and paint some more?

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!

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!

 

 

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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Proyecto de Pedaleo – Collaboration Mural

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This is one of my most favorite projects I have ever done. The murals that keeps painting itself…

Vienen desde Seattle Cristina! Mexico! Beautiful! 12742448_815486748552274_4099817604893194673_n Mexico! California! Yes! 12670322_804344156333200_4109102368704856084_n 12670554_809261105841505_6849309011698076449_n 12647525_802356846531931_3636936079675793018_n 12744607_815487928552156_494096165187563378_n 12646996_806501459450803_5194471518189293325_n 12347703_784427168324899_5109186728106992705_n 12592401_799718863462396_609506109077819445_n 12541166_801464986621117_7802651288094113071_n 12541009_802356886531927_3074796416029057138_n 12670110_806501496117466_4043224842760332899_n 12439540_799719906795625_5099429797484874940_n 12391299_785882841512665_1429675794084120982_n 12376508_785221584912124_8730392073311550586_n 12226919_775824765851806_3836251116168647645_n 12348013_783186095115673_1656918665007762061_n 12313552_779722598795356_5439720303886848775_n 12346574_780811968686419_6792227552521666329_n 12347793_783186291782320_223210873390970866_n 12239583_775824795851803_2504142713499328588_n 12308749_779722462128703_3201813429675870790_n 12366285_784050021695947_2835233678314186598_n 12088392_760388220728794_4562033277990765589_n 12347577_784427074991575_3041376503097520681_n 12108179_760388184062131_3466970195729643554_n  12219326_771613792939570_2873509282572244229_n 12208856_771622142938735_6752253056477016121_n 12345443_780812555353027_7927194467437689071_n 12342596_784427118324904_5466104802676059047_n 12006237_748938231873793_833417898214344283_n 12359965_783186355115647_5380800740189347486_n 12342524_785221621578787_4667617655200650302_n 12341404_780812422019707_2429764771460050472_n 11164799_683131381787812_9115220073727280353_n 12105882_764664750301141_3960902484411507910_n 11068304_687614024672881_7605146776557258569_n 12645142_806501376117478_3070912247589358610_n 12109265_759356994165250_5673157183717858127_n 12341377_780285068739109_6114608443086874168_n 12341339_783186255115657_1772778972687439328_n 12043205_759359097498373_8560607580710529277_n 12314023_780284522072497_9142651834022999622_n 11050659_674209252680025_1217103449483997940_n 12241453_775824632518486_4879052105354297233_n 12239628_773707676063515_4174821280400285822_n 11014931_687613881339562_8540182453926254271_n 11010616_768789366555346_2295969924401638950_n 12107751_761175053983444_7447352164543470525_n 12239597_775824659185150_1088410451528852223_n 12191929_769012633199686_3270511815902872379_n 12189802_769012773199672_361749079545191825_n 12189682_771622122938737_5736437508194590461_n 12187650_769012659866350_7620234306019662383_n 1897982_748938085207141_159569422041242702_n 12143355_769012709866345_3426044938605775703_n 12036805_765899790177637_7451067676275242094_n 12140823_760388150728801_3901057440400167876_n 10999640_674209479346669_4161809373608525570_n 10647015_683148088452808_8189605994458828589_n 10420357_674209932679957_7501759322314638576_n 12122886_769404819827134_1206073913274287070_n 12115452_775824835851799_2794512302507571165_n 12036845_759359234165026_2676114869130917200_n 10246311_769012536533029_4640190016464976948_n 12011275_748938258540457_1301916847842035031_n 11220099_764393686994914_4598073069734273868_n 11193437_683130941787856_5481388070810590155_n 11108213_683130931787857_7507626238384722192_n 10986564_712993878801562_3554285581591217137_n

Baja California

The Inspiration: As many of you know, I am not a stranger to staying on peoples couches, floors, back yards of anywhere I can with a tent. My journeys have been filled with hospitable and beautiful humans who have treated me like a family member. Among the many Lupita and Gabino from San Quintin stand out to me as shiny examples of this. Parents to daughter, Stephanie, they have welcomed hundreds of travelers yearly who bicycle down the Baja Mexico. They took me in for almost a week!

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They are made me feel like I was apart of their family and took care of me in ways that parents would. I met them at a hard time in my travels and they made me feel that I was not alone. Lupita and Gabino have so many travelers stay with them, they made a guest book and started having people write entries. Then it turned into a map where people would pin where they started their travels from. The day that I first stayed with Lupita and Gabino they were full of excitement for me to mark with a tiny tack where I traveled from. They led me to a large map that was covered in plastic lamenant and many different colored pins all over the map of the world.  It was incredible to see these physical pins from so many people. Connecting the world to make it seem smaller and that we are all the same. I was so inspired.

I knew this idea would come up again. And sure enough, three weeks later I was able to make it happen at the “Casa de Cyclista” in San Ignacio, Baja Mexico

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The Process: I ask to use some paints from the surrounding neighbors in Mexico and many of them laughed at me and then watched me paint from the street. They had no idea why I would want to borrow paint from them. Sure enough I found green, blue and white. The only colors we found. It was enough though and after one day of sketching (I typically don’t sketch but figured I had to in order to get the world perspective right) that I was underway painting.

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How long: It took me almost 4 days to paint. I had a little helper with me who got me coffee, and sharpened my pencil. He also just watched in awe as I painted. He would even help me erase my pencil lines. What a beauty this little helper was!

The exchange: Free stay and food for the mural.

The Location: San Igancio, Mexico at the Casa de Cyclistas. Click here for the Casa de Cyclistas Website. Thank you to Casa de Cylistas and thank you to Lupita and Gabino, ustedes tienen un lugar especial en mi corazón!

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Mural in Oakland 

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moon-and-back

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!

Ballard Kiss Cafe Solo Exhibition, Seattle, WA

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Proud to announce for the month of January 2015 I will be displaying my work at Ballard Kiss Cafe in Ballard, Washington. I am super excited as it is a lot of my new work. Featured are 12 different acrylic pieces, its a great show be sure you check it out!

Thank you Ballard Kiss Cafe, and to Raymond Owens for helping me set up the show.

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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 🙂

Sailing with “Imvubu”

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I was fortunate enough to sail throughout the Chilean channels for a second time. The sailboat was called “Imvubu” (significance is a hippopotamus in Zulu). It’s a 54 foot South African steel boat that was only launched 5 years ago.

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Owner Ralf Dominick offered my friend Jimmy and I positions to crew in exchange for food and lessons in sailing.

Click Here for more information on Imvubu

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SAM_3552Ocean waves escalate up and repel down…up and down, up and down. 54 ft steel vessel “Imvubu” handles the waters with ease.

Swells swimming in from the open ocean push us to 1.9 knots and gusts of 45 knots against the currents and winds. Up and down. I feel thankful I don’t get seasick.

Patagonia is breathtakingly beautiful, with waters tinted a pale glacier green and mountains soaring and diving into the sea with mossy patches and happy green trees.

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My favourite part of sailing is when we are not moving. Anchored in a  cove. This is the best part.

One can hear all around the nature untouched and vibrant. The thick smell of the trees dancing with the shoreline. The sea mixing with the heavy winds creating a whimsical misty spray that follows the design of the erratic shifting winds.

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The sounds are chilling as birds voices echo throughout the forests and the stillness of the bays and coves consume one with purity of the air and open sky. If your lucky you can see pockets in clouds with striking stars in all their radiance and beauty with sometimes their only chance to say hello.

Weather changes quickly and the cove is alive. Alive with chaotic calmness as this change is frequent and can send the boat dancing with the clanky anchor chain.

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Sailing is not as romantic as one may believe.

Sailing takes a toll on your body as energy used to maintain balance is sucked away and one can feel helpless and useless at times. Sleeping becomes a routine in the daytime and eating becomes a highlight. The romance lies in the seam of the nighttime and the assurance in being sewed back together in the stillness.

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I learned a new language while sailing. New manoeuvres, parts and functions of a sailboat. Not only that but the importance of wind direction, strength, wind angle, and interaction with the boat. Navigation, meteorology, currents, cloud patterns, and air all play a vital role. You must be constantly aware yet the slow pace of the boat makes you want to drift to sleep. It’s quite the difficult balancing act.

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5 am or 6 am we wake up and anywhere from 6 pm to 11 we arrive to a cove to anchor for the night. Dinner, a drink and off to sleep. It’s become routine but almost mundane. No sailing is not as romantic as they say.

45-80 Nautical miles a day, 8, 10 and sometimes 12 hour days.

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Coffee and tea become quite the treat, as it takes time to make such a thing. When you have a warm cup and are in the crispy wet conditions it can warm a heart and body right up!

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Try cooking in conditions with open water swells and strong winds blowing. It takes 3-4 times to make anything.

Overall, I don’t get along with sailing too well. I think I prefer meeting new people, walking and exploring.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a wonderful experience but I think I was made for a different lifestyle.

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Meanwhile feeling grateful and appreciative for the openness and willingness the sailing world provided for me. There are always lessons to be learned in every experience.

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Here is a look inside of the boat!

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Uyuni – Salt Flats

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This part of my journey was the most majestic, magical, tranquil, serene, silent, breath-taking days. 3 days in salt flats, smooth mountains, flowing rivers, playful streams, frolicking emus, decorated llamas, profound canyons, winding valleys, wind blown snow, hot heated sunshine, freezing cold, dust filled cars, one way bumpy roads, land cruisers, and a delicate full moon against ranges of a sherbet sunset. I was in La Paz for one week with no plans.

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The Salt Flats of Uyuni are the largest salt flats in the world at 10,582 square kilometers (4,086 sq mi). It was transformed through perhistoric lake transformations. The Altiplano is the area where the Salt Flats are and are is a high plateau, which was formed during uplift of the Andes mountains. The plateau includes fresh and saltwater lakes as well as salt flats and is surrounded by mountains with no drainage outlets.

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My experiance before heading to the salt Flats: I was thinking of going to the jungle, or maybe to perfect my Spanish east in Sucre, I couldn’t make up my mind. Late one night I met some friends and one of them when asked what he was up to the next day replied, “I’m driving to Uyuni and doing the 3 day Salt Flat tour in the South Eastern part of Bolivia. I responded “that sounds amazing, can I join you?”. Because he has a car I knew it would be cheaper and we could go to more places and take out time. Three days later and I could not of imagined what was to unfold those upcoming days.

Bus Crash

On the Salt Flat tour we saw a bus turned over, these guys were definately stealing some of the bus parts.

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SAM_0548We left from La Paz at 10 am, one hour out of the busy city and we encounter patrol stop number one. The government official would not let us through because we didn’t have a fire extinguisher in the car. After convincing him we were to go and buy one, he finally let us pass. Next was gas. Bolivia gives a special price to foreigners for buying gas. It’s 4-5 Bolivianos a litre for Bolivians and 9.75 for foreigners. You can get turned down from gas stations too as many gas attendance don’t want to fill out paperwork for that and could potentially get into trouble if they give you a cheaper price.

Eventually after being turned down twice we were able to get gas for 7 Bolivianos. Most of these people end up pocketing the extra gain. 9-10 hours later we arrive in windy, cold, buzzing Uyuni and found a place to crash for $30 Bolivianos ($4.4 USD).

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In the morning we were ready to leave but I realised I lost my debit card, and ironically so did my friend. We ended up staying another night as well because we had issues filling up not our car, but the extra 70 litre tanks. Apparently they think we were going to go to sell gas at the border. So we leave the next morning at 10 am, start out for the salt flats. Anyways, after a lot of hassle and wasting time we finally were off. We didn’t have a map, or the slightest idea of where we were going. The salt flats are huge, I am grateful we did not get lost.

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Many people warned us against going alone on the circuit and we were convinced that we could do it ourselves. The next three days were full of bliss. Two hot spring stops, hundreds of mountains ranges, such varying sizes of lakes and colours. There are four different types of pink flamingos living in the area, and just the silence of the wind blowing through the flowers as literally not a soul in sight for kilometres and kilometres. You become apart of the landscape and it was so easy to connect to the land. The energy, the movement of the breeze and the stillness. I get chills thinking about it. That scenery was the most gorgeous landscape I have seen yet on my travels, I would absolutely go back to these flats and hear that it is even more stunning in the wet season as the whole flats become a lake and you can see perfectly the reflection of the sky onto the lake. It is something I want to go back to.

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For every way to get to a new mountain or river, there were always 2-5 different ways to get there. The roads were so bad, some literally had drop downs into dried up rivers. It could of potentially be dangerous. We did get 3 flat tires, including one that happened when we were close to 50 mph winds and the sand was being blown in our faces. Well, on the bright side, I now know how to fix a flat tire.

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If you go alone: bring a GPS with coordinates already mapped up and downloaded. GPS does not work in the middle of no where. Makes sure you bring enough food and water for the days you go into the circuit. There is no place to buy food, except one touristy place that was an overpriced restaurant near the hot springs ¨agua termales¨.

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We camped, which was crazy cold, probably the coldest I have ever been in my life. I could not feel my numb feet and have never shivered that much. I would recommend bringing fire wood if you can so you can build a fire. If you go by yourself make sure to bring AT LEAST 2 – 70 liter gas cans on your roof rack. There are no gas stations and if you are lucky in San Juan or other small towns you can knock on doors and ask the locals if they are selling any gas. Better to be safe than sorry.

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Tire

Here is John fixing the second flat tire, with such crazy winds it blew the jack off the car!

Toll

Here was a toll that one local town decided to make for cars to pass through and pay. Some towns even have a string or rope to make cars stop. Does not seem legal! This one he is using a rock to raise the toll.

In the end, after 3 days of travelling, getting lost, finding our way again, stumbling upon majestic rivers and pink flamingos, running out of gas, getting 3 flat tires, being too cold to sleep, loosing more things on the 3 day trek than our entire travels, and just being unprepared made for an eventful Uyuni tour for me. I would recommend taking a 3 day circuit from Uyuni to the Chilean border. There is so much competition out there, and tons of horror stories that I head. Like they say in Bolivia, what you pay for is what you get!

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Sucre Mural – BeeHive

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Sucre – Spanish influenced city with clean streets, beautiful parks, energetic plazas and with a modern twist. This is where many foreigners come to learn Spanish. The bus system is simple and slow, the streets are busy with more people begging for money than I have seen in all my travels, and the same old hectic markets and fantastic handmade milk ice cream can be found.

I tasted the best food I’ve had so far at a spot called Condor Cafe. It is a vegetarian non profit that support local communities outside of Sucre. The first time I had their panini sandwich it made me want to stay longer in Sucre. The owners are from Australia and Switzerland and find themselves working part of the year in Europe to sustain to project. Dedication!

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I learned how to make an artistic cloth that the local woman make. It takes patience and more patience.

I can see why people stay in Sucre for so long, it’s clean and calm. Honestly this is one o my most favourite large cities. I was pleasantly surprised. I almost missed out on Sucre and am glad I didn’t.

The Mural

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I loved the texture of the paint in Sucre, there was so much contrast.

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SAM_0680Where: Sucre, Bolivia at “BeeHive” Hostel. Not your average hostel as many people stay long term and there is a wonderful sense of community. The two founders, Amanda 28 from California and Suzi, 30 from Sucre. The BeeHive works with local woman of the community through projects such as workshops and volunteering to help woman gain more confidence and financial stability.

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Length of Time: 3 days, 4-5 hours a day and 5 nights I stayed in Sucre.

What: A tree mural logo that will eventually be turned into a “giving tree” where a passport sized picture will be placed on leaves or roots depending on how much you donate to the project. This mural was pretty quick in terms of stay and was a ¨logo¨ piece.

What I learned: You can always plan a mural last minute.

Visa for Boliva, Crossing the Peru-Bolivia Border

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Travellers from The United States must apply for a visa before entering into Bolivia. The U.S. is one of the few countries who are required to do so.

Here are all the requirements one must need for getting into Bolivia, keep in mind that you can stay for 90 days and the Visa is good for 5 years.

  • Pay the Bolivian Bank $160 (or $130 depending where you pay, I paid $160 in Puno) crisp US Dollars
  • Copy of your passport – this means just the page with your information and picture on it.
  • Copy of your passport picture – this does not mean making a scan of your passport again, this means purchasing and taking new photos. Don’t worry there are places everywhere to do this and you can even take one with the Virgin Mary or change your clothes on the extra pictures your $5 soles takes you.
  • Copy of the Malaria Vaccianations
  • Bank Statements – 2 months will do
  • Itinerary – make something up about where you will go on what date and be sure to include in it where you will be staying etc. You don’t have to make reservations just create a word document and make it look like it’s from a tourist agency.
  • Completed application from the Bolivian Consulate.

Then, after they give you your passport and bias you must make a photo copy of it and give it back to the consulate.

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Puno is about 2.5-3 hours away from Copacabana, making it quite an easy border crossing. It was only $20 Soles for a bus ticket. The bus waits for you to stop in the police station and border control then to walk across the border and get your entry stamp into Bolivia.

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La Paz, Bolivia

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Busy, fast, zippy, old and smoggy type of city. At an elevation of 3,650 meters (12,00 feet) with a population of 2.3 million. My most favourite thing about Bolivia so far: The Zebras. That is right, Zebras. I am not talking about the animal, I am talking about the humans who are paid to dress up as Zebras in full body costumes and be the patrol for the pedestrian crossings. Not only do they dance, and flail their arms everywhere, but they also give hugs and little notes of encouragement to people that pass by. There are murals throughout the city in dedication to the Zebras. It is in many Bolivian cities and they are well known and loved by many (including children who I saw hold tightly onto the Zebras). It was just too cute and I could not stand just being friends with these Zebras.

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La Paz was where I went walking and walking and walking and walking. Market after market, stores for buying local clothing, bread, electronics, corner stores, liquor stores, teenager stores, bead stores, string stores, shoes stores, leather stores, and endless amount of stores. Funny thing is that every single store that is similar to one another and sells the exact same thing is always found next to their competition. I still do not understand why they do not separate and get different parts of town and make more money. But this is how it is, one street for one thing in particular. However this makes shopping easy and you can compare prices without having to go far as well.

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One of the markets that was the most interesting was the largest outdoor market in South America in La Paz called “El Alto” which is located just above La Paz and could be considered (but not technically) another city of its own. Many people tell you to not go alone, to not bring a camera, and that people would rob us; but like everything else in South America, people are scared for no reason. We had no problems, only met nice local people, and never felt unsafe. In fact we decided to walk down from El Alto after through the city and that was one of my favourite parts of the while La Paz experience.

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During my visit I went to Mount Chacaltaya at 5,420 meters above sea level. It used to be the highest ski lodge in the world until…about 15 years ago it stopped snowing. Can you say global warming? Now it barely snows there and the ski lodge is abandoned. If you start sneezing, you know that the altitude is getting to you as your brain starts to swell and this is how it releases pressure. The view was stunning and actually the mountain that we saw was the same mountain that Paramount Picture uses in their opening reel. Try running in elevation that high, you cant. Try breathing full breaths, you just cant.

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The same day the tour continued and we continued to the Valle de Luna which was a lake that dried up about 9 million years ago. Walking at the bottom of this lake is incredible as the water formed beautiful statues and sculptures that mirror what the moon would look like if you were to walk on it. It was absolutely incredible to see first hand in one day how the climate changes over time! Mountain weather changing and huge lakes drying up.

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I decided to get a new prescription for my eyes for glasses and contacts as my one in the United States is up. Bolivia is super cheap for getting anything health related and it cost me $30 Bolivianos for an appointment and $120 Bolivianos for glasses. In total costing $13 USD.

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I painted a little canvas with a friend and we installed it at Cafe el Mundo where we would constantly drink coffee and eat delicious food. My friend Roberto is from Sicily and it was nice to be a little creative! We also found some friends to help us paint as well. I think they caused more damage than good, but it was nice company.

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Incan Mural of Peru

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Mural faces

The Mural: Nazca inspired wall, located outside of the hostel.

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Where: Cabanaconde, Peru. Located about 3-4 hours from Arequipa in the Incan Valley.

Length of time: This piece took me about three days to make. I painted all day long, the wall was smaller than a lot of the previous walls I had created. I enjoyed the scale, and it was outside.

Accommodation: Free room (private) and breakfast, lunch and dinner as well. Amazing pizza and vegetarian food – salads galore!

What I learned: This piece was the second one I created in the Canyon. A stunning canyon at that. I enjoyed the location so much I did not mind to continue to paint. After my first mural there, Auywaska, I knew I had to stay longer.

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Outside SHot

Below is the Hostel owner Louy and I. He is a Peruvian man with an incredible talent for playing guitar, speaking multiple languages and with people. I am honored to call him my friend and cannot wait for the day I will meet see him again!

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The Canyon was incredible. I also wanted to feature a bit about Arequpia, the closest city. It is located a couple hours from Cabanaconde and is the only place where I could find paint to buy for the mural. It is in the mountains and was such an impressive city.

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Auywaska Mural in Cabaconde, Peru

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The Mural: 2013 Sept.    Ayuwaska – Cabanaconde, Peru – Pachamama 

The hat inspired mural snuggled inside of the restaurant/bar and the focal point of the room

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About the Mural: The inspiration came from the native woman’s dress of the pre-incan town of Cabanaconde and Colca Valley region.  The my mural showcases images of the birds, flowers, trees, cows, corn, food spirals, North, South, East, West, depicted in then tiny stitches of the indigenous Cabanoconde woman’s hat. While painting the mural, woman from off the streets would stop in the hostel and watch me paint. They were in awe of these images blown up onto a wall and with the images of the mountains in cooperated as well. The woman wore incredibly stunning hand made garments. Each town has their own specific hat, yet all tied together by the center image, the 8 pointed start. The women would work in these clothes and I admired how dramatically detailed each stitch was.

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I never sketched anything, I just like to draw directly onto the wall with paint. Below you can see the progession shots. I like to start with the focal point, the star, and then add lines to create movement. Of course, all the detail is done free hand and just by looking at the hat. I found tiny symbols and would make them larger and enclose them with designs. I had an idea of what I wanted, but the final mural is beyond what I could ever sketch prior to painting. In many ways that is why I love to paint, to create and feel. Sketching can make me feel limited as I, in many ways, set up expectations as to what is going to look like. I always have a general idea, but never exact.

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Time to Paint the Mural: From 10:00am-4:00pm I would paint for a total of 1 month. At night I would help them work in the bar from 5:00-10:00. In total I stayed 1 month at Pachamama.

Accommodation: Free room (private) and breakfast, lunch and dinner as well. Amazing pizza and vegetarian food – salads galore!

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What I learned: The difference between latex paint and acrylic. I’ve only worked with water based acrylic paint so working with latex was my first time. It’s much more thick and rubbery. It’s smooth and has a plaster texture to it, also smells more toxic. It is often difficult to work with paint that I have found in South America. The paint is different quality and I am getting better at adapting to the different kind.

In addition I learned that communal spaces are difficult to paint, because the energy constantly changes from travelers coming and going. However, I made the best of it and it worked out well in the end.

I learned that Cabanaconde is a good 5 hours from the nearest paint store and to probably plan a little more in advance in terms of buying paint. Saves a good 10 hours of travel and a couple of days in the big city!

I learned to be careful to agree to paint when a hostel is under construction, only because I got suckered into painting more than I thought. I could not resist all the white walls!

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Colca Canyon – Cabanaconde, Peru; Deep canyon filled with tiny rivers and pre-Incan roots. Earthquake ridden and cobbled stone and dirt roads led by donkeys and children playing volleyball in the street. Horses greeting neighbors, blue skies and the worlds second largest canyon at 10,725 meters deep “Colca Canyon”. 3 days of trekking in the canyon will lead you to hot springs, potential quakes, mud baths and waterfalls.  The town basks in the basks in the midst’s of alpaca, dry mountainous curves, green cactus budding tiny yellow flowers and enclosed in a mountain circle. It is a small is size, yet booming with beauty. The people of the town know the definition of community. It was home for one month and thanks to the family I made at Pachamama, this was one of the highlights of all of my travels. Small groups of brick and concrete houses, hidden in the embrace of the Canyon, home to the largest flying mammal the condor, glazed with snow capped mountains with echos of volcanic remnants and earthquake energy, I could not help but fall in love with it all.

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It is the type of town where you will not find internet, everyone knows each other, dogs are friendly and so is the way Peruvians treat them. I went for a stroll around the outside of town and was called into the corn fields to drink local brews with the farmers. I sipped Chicha with the locals and talked about the harvest season for corn and the large parties to follow the next couple of days.

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The local families would play volleyball in the streets and have to take down the net every time a car, horse or elder passed through. On one of my last days there was a celebration at the school. Every class dressed up and put on a traditional dance. I played volleyball with some of the students and got to know a handful of them pretty well.  It was incredible to  to see their school and meet their teachers. The dress wear for the celebration of the start of school were vibrant and thought out.

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I was in love with the traditional wear of the local woman. I was so impressed at the weight which they carry around with them. I felt so privileged to be able to try on one of the dresses. One of the women at Pachamama was going to Arequipa after work so she had the outfit with her, and so kindly asked if I would try it on. I could not stop smiling.

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I painted two murals: the first is inspired by the hats the woman wear of Cabanaconde and the second by Nazca drawings found in teh central part of Peru. There was a man who worked at Pachamama for a bit who gives tours of the Nazca lines and mummys so I was inspired to paint these drawings.

Pachamama was the perfect home, with a vibrant energy. It had a restaurant that served breakfast, lunch and pizza and pasta dinner, all by candle light and guitar playing. The pizzas were some of the best I have had in South America, so it was more than amazing to eat there every day. The staff was friendly, the spanish was flowing, and there is no other hostel like this one.

Below is the mural at night, you can feel the atmosphere of the bar and the tranquil yet buzzing energy of the place.

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The owner, Ludwig is from Peru. He has owned the hostel for the last 7 year and was by far the most accommodating, tranquil and easy going hostel owner I have ever met. He was very appreciative and even helped paint a bit.

Pachamama was remodeling so I had many opportunities to paint. Below is Ludwig working away cooking in the kitchen and to the left is¨Sweetie¨ one of two dogs from Pachmama. I could not get enough of the dogs as they would just climb up on your lap and give you kisses, it helped in staying warm too!

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Below is the bar, which has an oven for making pizzas. I stayed during high season here, so the tables were always full every night. Hey since I was bartending this was a great experience for me.

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Thank you to Pachamama and Ludwig for allowing me to stay as long as I did. Also thanks for reading! Now I am in Bolivia and had to say goodbye to the Pachamama family. There is no doubt that I will be back to pay a visit, and I wish them all the best! That is all for now!