Tag Archives: murals

“Into the Ocean” Portugal Mural


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.


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


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”


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

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


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


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

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


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

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

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

In Conclusion…

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

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

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


Rotten City Mural – Emeryville, CA


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

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

The Mural:

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

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

Here is a look at the preliminary sketches.

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

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

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

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

Studio V. Street Art 

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

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

1. How long will this take you?

2. Is it just you painting?

3. That is a lot of work.

4. Good job!

5. You get paid, right?

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

History of Rotten City, and Emeryville, CA: 

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

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

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

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

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



Earth Day Mural 2017


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



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

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.
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

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!




Proyecto de Pedaleo – Collaboration Mural



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!