"Expansion" for Forward Warrior Mural Festival 2019

Image by Erin Sintos of  The Sintoses

Image by Erin Sintos of The Sintoses

This year I had the great honor of being invited to Forward Warrior, a local mural festival in Cabbagetown, a small neighborhood in Atlanta. Now before anyone asks how I got it, honestly, I don’t know how Peter Ferrari picks the artists who are invited. He curates it and there is no submission process. There is the idea that the artists chosen are forward thinking in their style.

Actually, way back in 2015, I did get in contact with Peter to request that more women be invited and forwarded a list of like 50 artists (but full disclosure, I didn’t have the boldness to put myself on the list at that time *shrug emoji* [it was many more years before I learned to ask for what I want]). Nowadays, the event is more inclusive of all styles and backgrounds, which is not something you can say of all mural festivals.

Last year I was able to help Jessica Caldas put up a piece, so I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. This year I was given a spot next to her older piece, and she graciously gave me permission to paint over one of El Vejigantes, so that I could paint the portrait in a large scale. This was actually the largest portrait I’ve painted to date.

You can see my design process in the above three digital sketches. The first one was done very quickly after the initial meeting at Facet Gallery, using an image from Nicole' Vaunt’s Instagram and the other two are reference images I commissioned directly from her. So while you don’t get paid to participate in Forward Warrior but it does have the advantage of place for total creative freedom. Getting your first walls in your style as a muralist is a challenge, so I’m super grateful for the opportunity to paint this wall with no creative limits.

The initial idea came to me that I wanted to paint an emotional portrait of a woman, with an abstract cloud around her head. As I developed the image, it occurred to me to ask Nicole for reference photos, because I met Nicole at The Compact Camp last year. The experience and event is one that I really credit with giving me the idea to go after exactly what I want in life, which led to my becoming a full-time artist and even being put in the position of painting this wall to begin with.

Expansion, the process of becoming more fully aligned with your purpose and fulling living into your life, all wrapped up in hope and fear is what I hoped to convey with this piece. The abstract cloud, is a representation of the limbo phase of expansion in to a more fuller expression of who we want to be. She’s of and emerging from it, while holding her hands together and up to her face in a a hopeful, anticipatory pose.

Because I’m was contracted by Living Walls to assist Jurell Cayetano on another mural, I really had to finish my Forward Warrior piece in the time limit of the two days of the festival. So I put a lot of effort into preparing ahead of time for it so I could show up and attack the wall easily. Fortunately, after having painted a number of much bigger pieces, I felt confident that If I was prepared, I could easily finish.


When it comes to that initial preparation, some things, like priming, projecting went smoothly. I was extra worried about projecting, because I hadn’t done it before but it was a breeze and I had a lot of help from Erin McManness and her boyfriend Dan. Mixing paint mysteriously ate up three hours of my time, but it made the world of a difference to have a generous and full palette tones and was really key to finishing on time, even while talking to all the people. She’s finished and I had a blast these last two days painting for Forward Warrior and getting to translate my figurative abstract style into a mural.

Some extra special thanks to Yoyo Ferro, Vera Ziegler, Haylee Anne, Diego Penuela, who helped me put stuff in my car, let me borrow stuff or gave me water and brought me coffee.

If you are interested in your own custom mural, be it residential, commercial or something totally unique, email me here.

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