What is making me happy this week? This:
No, it is not me in that boom lift, it is a student from my workshop last year, Anne Shreivogl. When Anne took my workshop last year, she had never painted a mural before. This is her third public mural since taking my workshop. If you can take your eyes off those amazing butterflies for a second, you might notice Anne has silver-colored hair. She is an inspiration to all of us that you can try new things and push yourself out of your comfort zone at any age. Anne sent me this heartwarming note this morning:
“Treat yourself like a princess”. This phrase of yours came to me this morning and made all the difference. Unlike yesterday when I struggled with energy, today I remembered to drink water, and have a banana or handful of nuts every hour or two. I’m 90% done. I may add one more butterfly, then varnish. I got the dimensionality I was wanting. A fun day. 72°F too. The building owner loves it.
This note makes me so happy because it is not just the butterflies that are beautiful, it is the way she is doing it: taking care of herself physically, expressing pride in her efforts, making sure it is executed properly by varnishing the mural and sharing the joy of a happy client. There are so many wins here! And, yes, I am a little jealous that she is in a boom lift- I have never had the opportunity. It is on my bucket list, though. (Pun!)
I am currently looking for an available wall for my Fall 2022 workshop. Please let me know if you know of a worthwhile non-profit that might be interested in receiving a mural.
Here is something else that inspires me:
This mural of two DJ’s became a flashpoint for the pro-democracy movement in Belarus. (Yes, you read that correctly: two government-employed DJ’s. Don’t you love this story already?) The mural has been painted/ repainted over 18 times, and for 5 months (through the winter- yikes) had round-the-clock military guards to protect it as a blank wall. The park in front of the mural (dubbed the Square of Change by the community) became the center of tentative protest efforts, all met with the brutal (and masked) government response. This bit of paint (and a ton of bravery from the humans involved) galvanized pro-democracy efforts. You can read more about this mural in this NYT article.
I am inspired by the idea that a cheap, colorful syrup that dries rigid can become the match for the fire that is human bravery, and desire for truth.
And what have I been up to?
I had a great time recreating a scene from Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam with a trompe l-oeil molding on a grand foyer ceiling for Sal Gonzalez. Sal is a first-generation immigrant who has built his own business from the ground up (literally, he started a commercial flooring company, Cal Floors) and has been building a beautiful “castle on a hill” for about seven years. It is just about finished, and I was honored to add my work as part of the finishing touches. He started the company with his brother, who passed away a couple of years ago, and Sal requested that his brother be commemorated in the mural. Can you see his face in the clouds?
I left out the contorted figures under God’s cloak in Michelangelos original and instead freed fat little cherubs (putti) to cavort about across the ceiling.
Sometimes I scroll through Instagram and I am so impressed by the work of other artists I wonder why I bother even getting out of bed. There is a beautiful surge of human creativity in the world right now and most days I just feel honored to participate in the fun. This approach is much less stressful than viewing artmaking as some grand competition. I had a project recently where the client requested abstract paintings (seven actually, each six feet tall), and I have to say it was so relaxing to just smear and feather around color in whichever way I found pleasing. I was so relaxed I think my inner critic must have become disoriented and fallen asleep in the corner. While the actual painting felt incredibly easy, the real skill was in making sure the pieces worked together seamlessly, as they were designed to span three floors of a residential home. The artwork serves as the backdrop to a floating stairwell and is visible through the grand front entrance which is a wall of glass. Think: An Apple retail store had a residential baby.
My studio expanded like a magical carpetbag to accommodate the behemoth canvases. I rearranged the panels daily to see how the pieces fit together, both next to each other and when stacked on top of each other.
The color palette was inspired by the landscape of the bay area. The panels faded to deeper colors on the bottom panels, which extended down into the basement of the house.
It was a pleasure to collaborate again with the amazing team at TRG Architects on this project. I always appreciate the trust, especially when I am expanding my creative efforts into a new direction!
My final share before I run out to enjoy the sunshine: I am super proud to be featured in the Palo Alto Weekly’s Spring 2022 Home and Garden pullout section. Melissa McKenzie managed to perfectly capture my 20-year career arc in 736 words and didn’t miss a beat or a dot. You can read the article here.
Wherever your adventures take you this summer, I hope you are so relaxed that you too have the experience of your inner critic wandering off to fall asleep in the corner.