The Shirley Mural Project

The Shirley Project was my first major corporte client for their new space in the heart of downtown Seattle. The challenge consisted of painting 19 panels, all 8’x4’ 1/4″ MDO, which basically translates to super heavy, super cumbersome, and offsite. the project took me a total of 3 weeks. How did I even accomplish this looking back? 

As you know I also work full time for a local spray paint distribution company in Seattle WA. I juggle raising a bonus daughter with my partner while running my small business as 179. I also juggle my community outreach through teaching in-between all of the different roles I play. My life for May month consisted of waking up, trying to work out, rushing to work, attempting to eat healthy, and then race home to paint the evening away. I was also gambling on the weather holding up to be warm enough for my paint to dry.


The projects theme was modeled after the different terrain beautiful Washington has to offer. I had the greens of the temperate rain-forest, purples and pinks of the flora, blues of the ocean, oranges and pinks of the desert, and finally the grays of a city-scape. Organic shapes were matched agains straight lines in a loose pattern of shattered class and spray paint stencils for an urban theme. I highlighted sets with touches of gold and used the natural color of the MDO kraft-paper brown to keep them all tied to the earth.

I find people love watching me create my line-work. The lines I tend to do are very calligraphic in nature. With a paintbrush this changes with pressure, from fat to skinny ending with a wispy tail. The most frustrating of the experience was the peeling of the tape, but it was also the most exciting. It’s almost like unwrapping a present and seeing the finished result was thrilling to say the least.

This is also the first time I used the Sugar Paint by Ironlak which was interesting. My initial review is that while I love the convenience of using this indoors, you have the shake the hell out of the paint after every use (even if you’ve only set it down). If you don’t the pigments will clump together and give inconsistent colors, a chalky film, and spray onto your surface this chalky consistency, ruining the smooth surface of my MDO. I read this has been addressed in their new formula which is on sale now.


Delivery was hilarious. I palletized the set which I then had to transport via U-Haul and enlist the help of a very handsome savior to drive and back that shit up! The site was still in the midst of organized chaos and and got a lot of curious looks from the workers onsite. I was immensely intrigued with watching them quickly problem solve. like how the hell they were going to take this shrink wrapped pallet of art off the truck!

In the middle of all this I juggled a few other events and projects such as my Seattle Opera Youth event, repainting the South Park Staircase for Cinco de Mayo, sneaking in small commissions like Skate Like a Mom logo, and getting ready for my next corporate mural with a fantastic PNW company in June.


Although I worked on this from the comfort of my beach home it was challenging. While I had the comforts of home, I also had the distractions. Managing a home, raising a teenager, trying to keep a small business that is your passion all while working full time is hard. A lot of women in art or in a profession where they are their own boss struggle with the infamous “second shift”. It doesn’t mean that our partners aren’t supportive, I have a wonderfully loving and nurturing partner, it’s the pressure of being a renaissance woman and taking all that is handed to you. The dreaded Martyr syndrome. One that my very Mexican Catholic Matriarchal family subscribes to. This project is the jump-start to what is going to be the busiest summers ever and I’m thrilled, but also I need to get comfortable with asking for help and taking the time for self care. 

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