My work as a collaborative artist requires careful listening and intuition on color and tonality, what to include (and not include), and the purpose of the piece. I create art that is unique for a particular space and a particular client. This dynamic work environment is more interesting to me than working in isolation in my studio on a piece that could live anywhere for anyone.
Here are two projects that illustrate collaborative art at its best. The nicest people I’ve never met seem to somehow find me, which makes the work so easy. Add in an idyllic work environment, and a huge canvas that can really impact a space, and I am all in.
Speaking of Driving…
Dick Smith is a car enthusiast. He still has his first car, and his second, and he owns an impressive collection of rare and unique vintage cars. He keeps them in pristine condition in his “man cave”, two garages full of art and whimsy as well as bibelot and photos celebrating a good life full of friends and family. It was a work of art before I ever arrived to see the big blank wall along one side of the space.
Many of his cars made an appearance in the mural. The newsstand highlights some of the news in his life, and the architecture of the drive up restaurant was inspired by his old favorite haunt, Spivey’s, in Sunnyvale.
The bug with blue flowers was his wife’s first car. The hand carved Hearst is one of thirteen in the world. He had a trompe l’oeil mural painted on the outside of his original business, of him pruning the hedges, which is included in the mural I painted.
Let’s Add a Few More Acres
Richard and Shellie already had a gorgeous backyard before I arrived. Flowers overflowed in a “riot of color” in pots, raised beds, and around terraced seating areas. Their peaceful garden was a major feature of their historic house in the Oakland Hills. They called me because there was a stucco wall that bordered one side of the garden that was obtrusively plain. The asked me, “Can you paint something attractive there?” It’s like being thrown a perfect pitch with the bases loaded. Here is the before photo:
A few days later:
Something delightful about the project? Homemade cappuccinos served in the garden. Something uncommon? Richard had flexible work, and was so enthusiastic about the project he pulled up a chair and watched me paint almost from beginning to end. I both created art in this tranquil setting and got to know a new person at the same time. I learned he plays the piano an hour every day, ever since he was little. Wow!
I was suprised he didn’t panic as he watched the artwork develop. Most people would not be able to resist asking, “Is that going to stay that color?” Or “That doesn’t really look like a tree yet… are you going to fix it?”. My creative process certainly doesn’t start out looking promising. But instead he seemed content just to watch it unfold on it’s own, sometimes I overheard him say “wow”. That was it!
You can watch the creation of this mural from beginning to end in 120 seconds with this stop motion video I created:
I also enjoyed long hugs from Dennis, a dog they had rescued only a few months before. I have never met a dog that gives hugs, but it was powerful. Dennis also makes an appearance in the mural, of course!
Thanks for reading about my latest projects! I am headed off today to North Carolina for a project at a new swim center in Raleigh. Have brushes, will travel!
About 6 months ago I discovered a podcast called “The Good Life Project.” I listen to these podcasts sometimes back to back while I am working. Jonathan Fields interviews authors like Seth Godin, Dan Pink and Brene Brown as well as artists, entreprenuers and small business owners, people I have never heard of but are my new heroes. The Good Life Project is about building an extraordinary life, deeper relationships and meaningful bodies of work, businesses and movements. It’s about becoming a creator, a leader, a mentor, a giver, and a doer.
I am so inspired by what I hear!
Listening to this podcast is where I found out about the World Domination Summit in Portland, Oregon. It was started Chris Guillebeau and has a similar mission as the Good Life Project. He wrote a book I love called “The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World”.
I am headed to my first “World Domination” summit in July!
What I am looking forward to most is being surrounded by a tribe of like-minded fools. People blending work and play and purpose in their lives in a concoction all their own. I am excited to be around other solo-preneurs who are on fire about what they want to bring to the world.
At the end of each “Good Life” podcast, Fields asks his guest: “So, what does a good life look like to you?”
My answer to that would be: connection. That concept is the gas in the tank of “the good life” for me. Both inside and outside, up, down, left and right. Connection is resonance with others, a hum in the body and with life. Connection is the basis for my art, and is what makes life fun and feel good.
Wherever you are, it is your friends that make your world.
– Henry James
Happiness comes when your work and words are of benefit to yourself and others.
DAN PINK ON PASSION
In a “Good Life Project” interview with Dan Pink, he said he hated the question, “What is your passion?” because it freaks people out, it is a hot emotion, and not sustainable. He suggested better questions would be:
Where do we find meaningfulness?
What are we doing when we have flow experiences?
What holds intrinsic interest for you?
What gives you the feeling you are making a contribution?
I love this point he makes. You don’t need to “quit your job and follow your passion” or “live your passion” which is a pretty heavy weight to bear, in order to create meaning, flow, value, contribution, all of which are to me more important than passion, in my mind. They seem much more sustaining!
Morgan Bricca is a mural artist living and working in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her clients run the gamut from professional creatives, including architects and designers to building owners, school administrators and community advocates. When she is not making art, Morgan enjoys sipping boba tea with her kids and taking naps on the couch.