I had the pleasure of traveling to Costa Rica in March 2019 for an artist residency. In addition to sketching and documenting beautiful and strange plants, trees, birds, insects and animals, I painted a mural at Mauser Eco House!
It was a fantastic adventure. I explored the Pacific coast, hiked through rainforests, crossed the treetops on suspension bridges, splashed in the waves, and took a dip under a waterfall. Being based in the remote hilltops of Esterillo Este let me focus on creating art for 16 days, and my hosts generously shared their knowledge and gave me insight into life in Costa Rica.
Heather, the director of Mauser Eco House, kindly allowed me to decide where I wanted to paint a mural and what the content would be. After spending a week gathering inspiration, I chose the spiral staircase from the main floor to the studio space as the location and included many of the things in abundance around the property: bright colors, patterns, hibiscus blooms, tropical leaves, a tiger longwing butterfly, a snowy egret, and even a little frog. I wanted it to be a happy piece—to turn an ignored space into an asset. I started with a digital plan to cover the three walls:
Painting a spiral staircase created a challenge—having to consider how the art would work in a flowing space that can’t be seen all at once, but is revealed as you move (also ladders won’t work on stairs). I am really pleased with how it turned out! A 6-color piece approximately 18 feet long and 9 feet tall, it was painted in 90 degree fahrenheit weather. Buying custom colors at the local hardware store was another challenge, as they only had one fan of colors to choose from, and it wouldn’t have been successful without David, who accompanied me to interpret.
Mauser Eco House is a 20-minute drive, on mostly unpaved gravel roads, to the nearest town, Parrita. The property has a gorgeous wrap-around veranda overlooking the jungle. There are lots of fruit plants and trees on the grounds, and even a greenhouse. Inside the house we were visited by a praying mantis, geckos, and a scorpion. On the property, iguanas ran along the metal rooftop creating a clatter. I saw many more critters: javelinas, snakes, turkey vultures, scarlet macaws, parakeets, white wing doves, peacocks, hummingbirds, loads of birds I couldn’t identify, lizards of all shapes, poison dart frogs, monkeys, chickens, horses, cattle, beetles, leaf-footed insects, and stunning Morpho butterflies.
So many plants and trees as well: mango, coconut, papaya, Mandarin lime, balsa, cashew, starfruit, dragonfruit, pineapple, banana, papyrus, cotton, yucca, heliconia, passionfruit, iris, hibiscus to name a few (many right on the property).
If you couldn’t tell, I had an amazing stay. Travel gives me inspiration! I truly enjoyed spending time in a lush location with the fellow artist residents and the lovely team at Mauser.
I discovered that there are disadvantages and advantages to living in a large American city, and it’s nice to be reminded of these things.