How I got started: The Painting Edition

Last week I did a post about how I got started in drawing. Read it here. Now let's talk about painting. During my high school years, I babysat for this family who had these awesome wall murals in their playroom and the kids rooms. This mom painted all the Sesame Street characters in the kids playroom and each kid had a cool themed mural in their room too. She freelanced and painted in all the neighbors houses and was just overall a super cool fucking mom. I wanted to be just like her, she was so cool y'all. She was super chill, cursed a lot but taught her kids that grown up words were only okay for grown ups, had a good looking husband, and she was a bomb ass artist. Her kids were so great too, in fact I ran into one of the kids not too long ago and she's a grown ass woman now. Dang.

I hung out with this cool mom a lot because I was her first choice babysitter (because I'm responsible AF), so she would take me along to help on outings to the city pool and stuff, in addition to having me watch her kids when she went out. 

She was the one that gave me the confidence to paint my first wall mural. I was a senior in high school and it was around the time I took that art class because I remember talking to my teacher about it, and y'all, it was honestly terrible. Bad. So bad. And the thing was, you could see this mural from basically any place in my house. It was 2D, no depth, but very very colorful. It was a mural of The Beatles as a cartoon. Y'all, I have an old soul. I like The Beatles and Sinatra, sue me. So it was this psychedelic colorful HUGE wall mural in my house, visible from like 80% of the space in my house. I mean, that's serious commitment. And it wasn't good. The good news is I've learned to shade and create depth since painting that. Yay, progress!

Before that, I did what I suppose would be considered a wall mural, but I drew the whole thing in black sharpie. I wasn't artistic my whole life, but I have always been creative. I had a music room in my house growing up - did y'all know I used to be a drummer? Yep. I had a guitar too, but I never totally got the hang of it. My fingers just don't work like that. So anyway, I had this music room that I painted all red except for one wall that I painted bright white, then I drew this music on it.

Circa 2002ish? Maybe? I can't remember exactly when I did this.

It would be cool if it were a song, but it's not. It's totally random. ALSO - I will never in my life paint a room red again. It is the LITERAL WORST. It took at least 65 coats to get it solid red. Eff a buncha that.

So anyway, back to coolmom™. When I went off to college to study art, she invited me to come along to help her paint a commissioned mural. She did so much for my confidence with art, y'all. It was a safari themed mural and we just went balls out and did the thing. She did most of it, but I did some pieces with guidance from her. We listened to Amy Winehouse and she told me funny stories. It was great. 

Circa 2004ish?
I painted the trees and the rocks here, I think.
Definitely didn't paint the animals, was NOT confident enough for that yet.

When I got an apartment a few years later, I painted the walls because YOLO, then I had to paint them back, because apartment. I was so excited to buy a house to paint the walls however I wanted, so when I got my first house, I painted everywhere. Actually, I just painted my son's room, closet, bathroom (twice) and our entry way.

Like a good mom, I painted a monster in my infant's closet.
But like, a cute one.

I don't remember if the background here was already brown or not, but I definitely painted those palm trees in an entryway hallway.

Painting recognizable characters was a good way for me as an artist to 1 - practice and learn, but also 2 - show people my skillset. I don't paint licensed characters for money, but I do paint them in my own houses sometimes. These were in my son's room, but it was before my son was even born. What, I really like Mario.

Then there's his bathroom. I had originally painted it to look like a jungle with big beautiful exotic flowers, but the space was basically the size of a shoe box so it was hella claustrophobic with such a busy mural. Once my son was born, I painted it blue and did some subtle bubbles. 

Note: drawing or painting bubbles is an excellent practice exercise for budding artists. 

Along the way, I painted for a few people too. I never really advertised, just via word of mouth. I'd paint on the weekends and work during the week. Again, I don't really do licensed characters anymore unless it's practice. I also did some paintings too, i.e. not wall murals.

I feel like he's saying, "heyyyyyyy"

The girl I did this for really wanted a cruise ship in the background.
I love random requests like that.

Then, in my next condo, I painted in my son's room and an accent wall. I had more planned, but then I met my husfriend and we decided to buy a house together. New house = MORE WALLS! And then I got in a funk and didn't paint for like, 2 years or something. Woah.

Most of the walls in my house are still beige or white, but I did paint a super rad accent wall in my bedroom and have some planned murals for my studio and the kids' spaces. I'll live stream them on Twitch (find me over there,

This is 150% my favorite accent wall I've ever painted.

When we bought this house, we thought this cutout was a cool place for a mural of a sunset on Tatooine. Yes, it was oddly specific. Yes, we are nerdy AF. Honestly though, this is not one of my proudest murals. Probably because I was on a ladder like 15 feet in the air the whole time, stressed TF out. I worked quickly and it's sloppy, IMO.

I don't like heights.

Basically, I have zero formal training in painting, just lots of practice. It took me a while to find my "style" too. When I was in art school I took a drawing class, a sculpting class and an art history class, then I changed my major. In the drawing class, we focused on using charcoal and soft pastels and I learned a lot. The sculpting class taught me that I am terrible at sculpting. The art history class taught me that I am not interested in art history. For painting, I've just been winging it with cheap craft paint from the beginning, thanks to supportive family and friends sometimes lending their walls and always offering words of encouragement. 

My advice? If you want to do something, jump in with both feet and do the thing. I don't have any formal training in painting. Practice practice practice, then one day you can look back and see your own evolution. 

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