What I Learned When I Painted a Mural

I approached a great local business called Wilf & Ada’s here in the heart of Canada’s Capital a couple months ago to paint a mural on one of their walls. The idea to paint the mural came after attending a jazz night at their sister/ neighbouring business Arlington 5 with my boyfriend and friend, Omar. We were leaving the event and started poking around the alleyway between the two shops. My friend, Omar, exclaimed “You should paint a mural here,” and that was it. I emailed the business owners the next day sent them some photos of past mural work I had done and we were off!


These two little businesses have revived the corner of Arlington and Bank St in the Centretown neighbourhood so it was no surprise when I met with Jessie, the owner; she had a good idea of what she wanted on the wall stretching 40 feet by 15 feet. We talked about how the businesses make community, the food community specifically a priority; working with local farmers, using sustainable practices and fair trade products. It became obvious we needed to work in the concept of cultivation and humanity into the piece. I immediately thought of Latin American symbols. Being Latina, I am constantly reviewing a visual library of images, symbols, and icons in my memory from family visits to Mexico and Uruguay, art in the home I grew up and the imagery depicted in Latino literature. Symbols honouring family, strength, humility, and wisdom that often explore the nobility of the farmer/ worker. The mural took on that energy as you can in my terrible progress shots (Better photos to come I promise!); one friend texted me after I had completed the mural saying “I felt so peaceful walking by it. It feels like you.” I was so happy; this is what I had been trying to do with my work (especially my murals that live in such public spaces). My past murals were unable to achieve this for many reasons but it was so satisfying to see that the intimacy and identity I was hoping to achieve came through in this one. I have thought a lot about why or how this finally happened in this particular mural and I think a crucial part of it was, although I had done all the planning, sketching etc. I could have for the project; I really threw all of it out the window when I got down to work. I was lucky enough to be working with patrons that although the final piece was not exactly what was discussed decided to keep it as it was because of the community’s positive feedback. I just want to paint all the walls now.  

Lessons Learned

1.       Listen to your friends, who believe in you more than you believe in yourself much of the time

2.       Work hard and be confident in your hard work

3.       When it comes to execution: don’t give a fuck

4.       Stay on budget

5.       Keep communication lines with your patron/client open and honest

Printing In a Room of One's Own

If you have ever googled "Creative Block" or "I'm not making art after art school" or "PAPA CAN YOU HEEEEAR ME?" you have probably read something that has left you feeling a little less alone when it comes to feeling trapped between production and paralysis. I did A LOT of reading on creative block coming out of art school; I am talking two years of block here- I was unmotivated, jaded (still trying to shake this one), and completely afraid of where to take my work and how it was going to be perceived. 

So, I began to print. I printed quietly in the comfort of my apartment. I printed alone. I hand pressed my work. It began to feel intimate again; it began to feel like it was my own practice again. I hadn't fully produced work in privacy for many years; in art school I never consciously registered the pressure it was to be around my peers during the inception, production and completion of my work. Its unnerving now when I think about it. In art school the relationship you have to your work completely changes- I began to pander to my teachers and colleagues for the grade, the validation and the respect.

Returning to print in a trusted space with no deadlines, no expectations was crucial to my reawakening. And so my work, as I began making small prints, became quiet with me- little meditative pieces; primitive shapes like Marquez' prehistoric eggs*  yet contained with a static energy as I began to let go of the tense grip the block had on me. These prints became the series The First Time I Saw Ice stay tuned for new works to come within this series.

*Prehistoric eggs references the stones described in the beginning pages of 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Welcome to Claudia Likes It!

August 12, 2015


This blog (coming soon) will be covering all kinds of art practices and projects I am working through and viewing in my immediate and online world. I decided to go with the name Claudia Likes It because I find myself and others too much of the time fall privy to mainstream attitudes and opinions when it comes to aesthetics; often conforming to shit they have been institutionally convinced is worthy of praise. The art I follow is my personal interpretation of what I believe art is and has been around for- to entertain humans' need to craft and communicate via the metaphor of form. I hope you join me in looking at creative works and ideas I genuinely like.

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