My contribution to the Beautiful Together art exhibition this summer at You Are Beautiful HQ Gallery, is this acrylic on supplied D.I.Y. board. The exhibit is a great collection of art from loads of artists and creative people. Go see it before it’s gone!
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.
I was able to complete 3 murals in 2018! This third one was the biggest I've done (55 feet long by 15 feet tall), was on rough brick, and was painted during iffy weather late in the season. For the entire month of October, I spent the days that were not rainy or below 40 degrees painting this historical mural for the Town of Highland, Indiana.
The Town Theater opened in 1946. With a neon marquee, Vitrolite tiles, and a quilted aluminum ticket booth, it was a classic, mid-century modern movie theater. Sadly, it was razed in January of this year.
The cabbage field represents the crops planted by Dutch families—tenant farmers—who arrived in the 1880s, growing lots of cabbage. Sauerkraut processing using the cabbage grown by these local Dutch farmers became Highland’s first industry when Libby, McNeil & Libby Co. built a cannery.
Another treasure in Highland is a heron rookery near the Little Calumet River. Every spring the herons return to nest.
And of course, the bright tulips are for Highland's Dutch settlers.
This was a challenging and rewarding project. I'm thankful to the Highland Redevelopment Commission, and everyone involved, for the opportunity and their assistance.
I am so glad I finished before the snow arrives!
I am happy to share some news! I just finished painting this entryway wall yesterday, for the Chicago Workforce Center at 1700 W. 18th Street, in the heart of Pilsen.
The brief was open. I could create anything I chose, so I took into consideration the use of the building and the audience that would be passing the mural every day. Because it is a workforce center where people come when they are unemployed and seeking help, I chose a bird icon to represent soaring, flying, and taking off. The dynamic wake of colors and patterns—a stylized landscape—represents good vibrations and happiness. It is meant to have a simple, universal message of positivity—a bold, bright, uplifting design.
A little bit about my process...I designed this piece completely on the computer, no pencil sketch. To get it on the wall I drew a grid of square inches over the design, then drew a grid of square feet on the wall and was able to scale it up without trouble.
The mural is in Pilsen, a predominantly Mexican community in Chicago, and the color palette fits in perfectly. I received lots of compliments about the colors in Spanish (then English when I said my Spanish is not so good), so I think I hit the mark.
This is the first project I have done in a VERY public space during open hours and it was an unexpectedly positive experience. (I did have one creeper who wouldn't leave me alone, who the security officer had to come out and scare off, and two guys hit on me, but everyone else was super encouraging and complimentary.)
Can I just say, you should all have dozens of people tell you how great and talented you are while you work! It was a real feel-good experience.
I am super pleased with the results and the client was too! Thanks for looking!
Tree of Life Mural
I am excited to share this great, BIG project with you. A co-working space for the Jewish community in Chicago, Sketchpad, commissioned me to energize their space with a Tree of Life. The final piece is 8 colors, 18 feet wide, and 9 feet tall. See my progress below.
I designed this piece with a vibrant, contemporary color palette and stylized imagery. Each leaf is unique, to represent individual spirit, and the leaves are oversized and overlapping with the look of a quilt made from beautiful pieces.
First, I started with a pencil sketch for client approval...
...then I selected a color palette that would fit with the interior design of the space and be energizing and vibrant.
Next, I transferred the sketch to the wall and starting painting the outlines and blocking in colors.
I added line work details to the tree trunk and a variety of patterns to the leaves. Then painted the blue outline as the last layer to pull it all together. It's quite fun painting with bright colors.
I am pleased with the final piece; it livens up the room, and has a deeper meaning for the businesses that work in this space.