How to Overthink a Mural

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A few weeks ago one of my favorite clients (Rasta Rita) and I were working on their margarita trucks. I’ve been creating renderings so that they can be hand-painted by this really great artist that we all admire. Turns out that really great artist is booked up and getting harder and harder to hire these days. You know where I’m going with this… when Mario, my boss at Rasta Rita shared his struggles, I casually suggested that Rasta Rita hire me to paint their margarita trucks. What a dream job right? I’ve always wanted to paint a taco truck, a margarita truck would even be MORE fun!

Except I don’t really have any experience in painting automobiles. I think the closest I’ve gotten to painting on a metal surface like a truck is painting a refrigerator red and maybe some bunnies on fingernails. It would be a total learning curve but where there’s a will there’s a way, right? Mario was intrigued but not quite ready to take a chance on a newbie with no proof of skills. Being a whiz at photoshop isn’t exactly the same thing as knowing how to paint a pin-line on a truck, must less a bunch of flowers and words that require the skills of a seasoned sign painter. So he offered me a test. I could paint a mural on their cantina location out in Twentynine Palms (next to Joshua Tree) and if I did a good job, I might be considered for truck painting.

You’re on, I said!

And then I proceeded to stress the beep out.

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Give an anxiety-prone artist time and she will use every single minute of it to over-plan and prepare. I watched youtube videos for hours, I pondered paints that can withstand extreme desert weather. I studied bougainvillea leaves and tested out my skills on a canvas, I stressed about expensive paints soaking into porous stucco surfaces and imagined my paint budget sponging away into the wall. I calculated how much gas it would take me to drive to the desert multiple times and how much a hydraulic lift would cost so I could reach the top of the mural wall and not fall to my death…

In the picture that Mario gave me the wall looked immense. It seemed two stories tall easily. I imagined it would take me a whole week maybe even longer if I had to take breaks from heatstroke. I enlisted Bug to help me because she is quite good at painting and copying anything. And then I planned some more. I planned myself sick.

The day of the big paint job finally came and as I packed and stressed some more, I found out that the venue had been over-booked. If I was a fast painter I could possibly get the job done before the back-to-back weddings happened but I had no clue how things would go. What if I only got half of the mural done and then some poor bride had to have her wedding backdrop be a wall covered in gray splotches of primer paint. The horror! I didn’t know how long this whole process was going to take. Being under pressure to finish by a certain time was just too much for me to handle. I freaked.

I called it off. I got cold feet.

Thankfully this client is totally cool and said I could paint the following five consecutive weekends instead. I had planned to paint during Bug’s spring break but this would good plan B and more importantly, I could take some time off from stress. Sort of.

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Bug and I decided to take a drive out there anyway just to case the joint and get a better idea of the scope of this project. We didn’t have anything else planned so we might as well have a little desert vaca-day. We’re always up for an adventure. Bring it on!

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We got the keys and checked out the wall. Guess, what? It’s half the size I had imagined in my head. AND the surface is not as porous as I had feared. My fear level for this project dropped in half. I probably could have knocked it out in two days before the upcoming weddings but it’s just as well. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. I don’t need any Bridezillas suing me for ruining their wedding.

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I was so relieved.

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I also got to check out the famous artist’s version of some bougainvillea that he had painted. I wasn’t completely happy with my version (bottom left) but when I look at his, I don’t think I’m that far off. In fact, I think I can totally rock this job. I need to work on my petal shape a bit but I think I’ve got this.

We took some pictures and then headed home via the scenic route.

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I love these desert mallows that grow along the side of the roads in the desert. Bug and I pulled off to take some pictures of them and Bug taught me an interesting fact (she knows all sorts of interesting botany trivia). Desert flowers grow where the dirt is disturbed. That means they grow in the distressed areas, like along a highway. Why do they do this? Probably nature’s last-ditch effort to reproduce before they die out or something like that but I took it as something else. I’ve been a little stressed out lately too and I think I’m a desert flower blooming. Distress can sometimes bring out the best in us.  Of course, it’s not a good idea to be stressed out regularly but when we are, we can look for the beauty. It’s bound to show up somewhere. We just might not see it until it’s over.

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And speaking of desert beauty… That’s my Bug, wearing a slip like it’s hot couture.

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We didn’t spend much time taking photos but we got a few. I do love it out there.

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See you again soon, pretty desert! I will keep you posted on this.