Tag Archives: Painting

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!

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Full Moon – Art Auction

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

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

Rotten City Mural – Emeryville, CA

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

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

The Mural:

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

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

Here is a look at the preliminary sketches.

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

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

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

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

Studio V. Street Art 

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

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

1. How long will this take you?

2. Is it just you painting?

3. That is a lot of work.

4. Good job!

5. You get paid, right?

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

History of Rotten City, and Emeryville, CA: 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Earth Day Mural 2017

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

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

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

 

 

Painting in Joshua Tree

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

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

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

   

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

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


   

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

 

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

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

  

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

Biking WA – Mukilteo to Bellingham

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Rain started as a sprinkle as we drifted beyond the trees and the rivers and streams. Light playful rejuvenating rain. Heavy and thick getting louder and more powerful.

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Soon enough we were in full on downpour where our waterproof gear was suddenly not and we were chilly little bikers! For a couple of hours we rode in the rain. At first it was fun and exciting, but then it became cold and uncomfortable.

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The ferry was beautiful, and quite the ordeal with 12 bicycles. We walked on and the ride was only about 15 minutes to Whidbey Island. We were greeted with huge uphills! Beautiful, but wet ride! I am glad that we waterproofed all of our gear before it started. Because it did not stop anytime soon.

IMG_9183 Here is the first part of the ride from Mukilteo to Fort Ebey State park that was right on the water. It was a beautiful spot, but unfortunately rained the entire time. We were greeted with quite large hills on the end of the ride, which was difficult.

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We finally found a warm place to stop for lunch and made nori sandwiches and wraps then we’re off again. Beautiful and hilly Whidbey I remember coming to the island as a child and as a teenager for my grandparents’ reunion. Memories now shared with my present experience of this rainy bike tour. The land, so green and luscious. The trees, swaying with beauty, and the puget sound with smells of salt and seaweed. Smells from my childhood.

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We rode across the island only 50 miles to our camping site where we arrive with pouring down rain and tons of hills! One thing I love about this group is our ability to work together. We had two tarps. One tarp for cooking dinner and keeping the food and crew dry and the other for a team of people holding up a tarp so individuals could set up their tents! What an experience so organized and loving with all that rain! We were pretty cold and miserable. We warmed up quickly in our little tents and got dry as night fell.

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Here is the second part of the ride where we rode over a military part of the island. There was a lot of planes flying overhead and a navy base. It made for an interestingly loud ride amongst the beautiful green trees.  We made it to the Look Out Arts Quarry in Bellingham after two days and lots of rain! It was beautiful and we are thankful to have experienced that magical island!

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Biking Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsyvanlia, Philly, Delaware and Beyond

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Cycling, cycling and more cycling down the East Coast!

    

Above is a Rail to Trail, converted rail road tracks made into a trail that was 17 miles long. So many people were using the path and it was one of the most enjoyable, car-free trails I have been on. It creates a strong sense of community by having those biking trails,

      

  

The 17 mile bike path was incredible and every time I found myself on a trail with no cars and dense silence from the trees around me, I always was thankful for it. That is why I ride, for that serene and full feeling of being immersed in nature.

With that said, some of the bicycle paths that I took (via google maps) were absolutely horrible in the sense that I had to walk my bicycle because the sand was so thick and impossible for me to ride. There were sometimes the roads were 2-6 miles long and often I had to turn around because it was so ridiculous. I follow whatever google maps tells me to follow, and sometimes I think that it was made for off road dirt biking!

  
  

I continued from Rhode Island south in to Connecticut where I rode on a bridge hundreds of feet in the sky. I was alone and pretty scared as well as claustrophobic being that high up. The bridge lasted a couple of miles and was over a huge river. It was a path that was squished next to 5 lanes of traffic and when another cyclist passed by, it was hard to squeeze through! What a rush!

   
  

 

From Connecticut I took the ferry across to Long Island and rode to meet my friend Tricia who I met and was friends with in Oakland CA. She now lives on Long Island where she grew up and has a son and husband now. It was lovely to catch up with her and spend a couple nights on Long Island. We went to a cross fit competition in long beach for all one day, swam in the ocean which was incredibly warm and got to catch up with one another.

   

   
 

Long Island was beautiful and full of vineyards and agricultural land. The houses are huge and old and apparently its become quite expensive to live out there. I saw a lot of horses, deer and animals too!


  
 

From Long Island I took the train a bit and then rode into NYC and met my friend from college, Jon who let me stay with him for a couple days. Jon and I ventured all over the city and had a great time exploring the 9/11 memorial, Central Park, Empire State Building and many other sites! It was one of Jons first time riding in the city so I felt so honored to explore with him. I really love exploring cities and being able to do it by bike, exploring bike paths and falling in love with bike riding all over again. I cant get enough of my bicycle!

 

  

   

I absolutely loved New York. I was blown away at the public transportation, how easy it was to bike anywhere in the city, and how pedestrian friendly it was! At some points while riding, I could see multiple buses, train cars, subway trains, bike paths, car paths, and waterfront spaces for pedestrians. This city has a great mapped out infrastructure and I don’t care what anyone says about riding a bike in New York. Its possible! Not only is it possible, but its a magical thing to experience. I would definitely be commuting if I lived in NY.

   

  

   

Next stop was Philadelphia where I stayed just for a night with some lovely people from Warmshowers. I saw a lot of murals and left promptly because the Pope was in town and it was hard to get around. It was a rush riding into Philadelphia as I was riding solo and got into some bad parts of town. I felt quite vulnerable on my bike. There are roads to go around these parts, but in many ways I like to ride through the whole city to experience what it is really like. Maybe next time I go with someone!

  

  

Next stop: Washington D.C. where I found my friend from childhood who let me stay with her a couple of nights. I loved D.C. it was very clean, organized, had free museums and I even got a glimpse of the Pope! I was able to see my childhood friend, Lauren Goodman and we had a wonderful time walking around the city and seeing Georgetown where Lauren went to school.

 

 

Next was Atlanta where the city was organizing an outdoor weekend music festival featured around rap. It was another world, like anything I have seen. It was interesting!

  

 

  

From D.C. it was onto Durham where I was reunited with Soul Sister, Gillian and I was fortunate to stay with her for a weekend. It happened to be Durham Pride. Highlights included donuts, days of rain, and my beautiful friend!

 

 

Next was Atlanta where I met up with a vehicle and friend Jesse who ended up giving me a two week ride cross country. We camped, stayed with friends, and met new friends along the way. My bicycle went with me as well, and so it was again wonderful to explore the cities that we traveled to by car.

The next stop was Nashville, Tennesse. Although out of the way, so glad we went to this city because it was full of great music, interesting people, and a lot of sights to see. They had a great bike path through the outskirts of the city so you can get around pretty easily by bicycle.

  

 

   

   

Next was New Orleans!  It was a city that reminded me of a town in Colombia called Cartagena because of its Spanish and French architecture and for the tropical climate. It was hot hot hot, which apparently to the people of New Orleans was not that hot contrasted to what they dealt with in summer.

    
  
  

I felt it was hot! We spent a couple of days in NOLA and enjoyed swimming, parks, and friends! There was even a gorgeous tree that had chimes hung to the branches which created an art tree with an orchestra of healing sounds. What a colorful city! Vibrant, diverse and amazing!

  
  
  

Then is was Austin Texas! A place that I have always wanted to go, and almost moved to directly after college. I got to see my cousin, Elizabeth there and really get to know the city riding around. Lots of bike lanes and lots of biking!

  

  

Then onto Arizona, Tucson! We just stayed for a short time I did not feel like I got a good grasp on what the vibe was like. But lots of driving and lots of freeway. I am definitely not a big fan of driving I think most of you know!

 

  

 

These last bunches of photos are from our camping journey a couple days on the way back home. This was in New Mexico and we found a cool place off the freeway. It was quiet and the stars were loud!

  

Then we were onto Joshua Tree where I linked up with the Joshua Tree Music Festival! I was able ot see my riding mate Maud, who I just absolutely love! She was in Southern Mexico and decided to take a month break in LA. I was so lucky to link up with her!

  

  

  

What a great way to end the tour! Since I was so close to LA I just decided to work a couple weeks out on Catalina Island. More of that to come….I feel so lucky to have my friends that I have met along the way. This journey of bike touring the east coast has been filled with love, exploring and change. I feel super clear minded and open, I feel charged with love and space for more change. I am always growing and transforming. Just because I challenge myself by traveling and learn a lot still does not mean that I know everything. I am always open to new experiences and exploring new spaces. I feel full of gratitude for all I have seen and done. Now is a time for rooting and grounding. Lets see how it all unfolds!

Love you all! Thanks for supporting me!