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"Under the ‘Sea’-ling"


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        My next opportunity to paint a mural was in the spring of 1999, but it wasn’t in the warehouse. A friend of mine worked at a home for cerebral palsy patients near my home in Santa Barbara, and she invited me to paint one of the rooms there. I accepted in a heartbeat and spent the next two weekends painting. A muralist named Robert Wyland inspired this underwater scene, as he is famous for his ‘whaling walls’ around the world. I always admired the way Wyland captured sunlight on water, because this effect seemed to escape me most of the time. However, when I discovered a long fluorescent bulb in the midst of the wall before me, I realized I would 'paint light' whether I wanted to or not! Not only did I have to paint around a giant light bulb, but I had to work around a corner and over a doorway too! At first, I was sure the wall’s rough terrain offered a poor mural canvas, but I was mistaken. The light seemed to reflect the water, the corner suggested an unexpected depth, and the door…well, the door remained a door; but you get the idea. Another major obstacle I encountered here was the presence of people while I worked. Some asked me questions, some smiled, and some did not even notice me; but there was something almost frightening about painting in front of perfect strangers. I have not returned to my whale wall since I finished it, but I captured its memory with photographs. Through these pictures, I later shared my mural with its own inspiration- Wyland himself, at one of his gallery signings. Of all the walls I’ve painted so far, I’d have to claim this one as my personal favorite.