This week marks the one year anniversary of painting my first murals. Two murals in 10 days, in fact. Prior to painting these murals in Austin, I had zero mural experience & no reason to believe I could pull it off. Following is the 6-part story of how I did it.
In June of 2016, I left my home in the SF Bay Area to housesit for friends in Austin, TX, while they were overseas for nearly a month. I had a house to myself, an art studio I could use, work projects to do and beyond that I was in my favorite city and had more free time than usual. I also had hardly any spending money, so I looked forward to using the month to listen to myself and work on my art.
After a few weeks in Austin with quiet, unstructured time, I fell into that rhythm of focusing on work, taking extra rest, and keeping a journal. I was better about meditating most days. I’ve had a meditation practice for several years, but I’m inconsistent about it. Whenever I do it regularly my life flows better.
At some point halfway into my monthlong stay, during a morning meditation an idea came to me. I say that ideas "come" to me, because my inspiration comes from outside of me, I don't cook it up myself. The way it happens is the seed of an idea or a complete image pops into my head and doesn't leave. Usually I ignore it for a period of weeks or months, doubting it and trying to talk myself out of it. Eventually I put the effort into translating it into something tangible.
This time, the inspiration that popped in to my head was: paint a mural before you leave Austin. I know this idea didn't come from me, because I would never think in a million years that I could do that. On the surface there wasn't any compelling reason I'd be able to accomplish it. I hadn't painted much except for clothing. I’d certainly never painted on a wall. I didn't know what kind of paint muralists use, where I could find a wall, what I would paint on it, how I could convince anyone to take me seriously, how I could find the owner of a building to allow me to paint on their property. I really didn't have the first clue how to do this.
A few more things that might be worth mentioning: I am completely self-taught, no one in my family is an artist, and when it comes to sharing my creative ideas I've had a lot of self-doubt. My entire creative journey has only moved forward because my desire is occasionally 1% stronger than my fear. From the outside it may not seem like I've accomplished much, but it has taken a lot of courage to get this far.
Amid those questions and doubts, a second inspiration quickly popped in to my head: do not put any doubts on this. It was clear as a bell.
So that was my directive, should I choose to accept it:
- Paint a mural in Austin before I left in 10 days
- Be vigilant in allowing ZERO doubts about being able to accomplish the goal
In other words: do something you've never done, and approach it in a way you've never done before.
On a practical level, the idea seemed ludicrous. There were 50 reasons why it wouldn’t work, why I shouldn’t even pursue it. But after all that quiet time I was feeling a bit more faithful and daring than usual. I thought, What do I have to lose? I figured there was no way it would work, and if I “failed” at painting a mural absolutely no one would be surprised.
I decided to go for it.