Admittedly, what I do for a living is very strange. I spend countless hours creating unplanned abstract paintings that reflect moments and observations of texture and interaction. That's a handful of vague words. Commissions are a bold move for a collector to request. They don't typically know what they are going to get however it's an interesting challenge when both parties are open minded. That being said, I was pretty excited when William from Craftsman and Wolves approached me about painting a mural at their new cafe in San Francisco.
Craftsman and Wolves was a pleasure to work with. I was in awe with how much the company is like a family. My meetings with William were casual but significant to the process. He came to my studio and viewed a lot of the work in person and later I made a few visits to their kitchen to discuss final plans. Not to mention, I was well caffeinated and fed during their family meal times.
It was decided that the mural would be based off the recent series of paintings "Proximity to the Ocean". You can view some of the work, here and here. Due to construction in the space and traveling on my end, the mural was divided over a month long span but ultimately took about a week and a half to complete. I worked mostly during late hours which was perfect because The Den is connected to their 24 hour kitchen where they bake, cook and ship food out to their other locations.
The mural consists of acid-free acrylic paint which was both sprayed and applied with a brush. Though not much of it was planned, I did spend time figuring out which way the energy and marks would flow throughout the space. This involved sketching arrows and graphs of the space to remind me of a directional composition as I worked. It was important that your eye didn't just stop in one aspect of the mural. Similar to a current, the mural represents movement in nature-specifically water, and movement through the process of making. I think the process of making is an interesting concept here because this cafe, which they call The Den- is an extension of the kitchen and offices. It's where many of the employees spend their time creating. Craftsman and Wolves isn't an ordinary cafe. As they word it, it's a contemporary patisserie because food is also a fine art. Color, composition and production are all important aspects.
The process was very physical and mental. Working on an installation like this demands endurance from the mind and body. Using a ladder is probably one of the biggest obstacles because every time I would step down, I would need to remember where the flow picked up without being interrupted entirely. It's different than working on a canvas that can be brought down to my height or rotated to get a particular effect of a drip. I enjoyed this type of challenge because it breaks any formula I begin to form in the studio and introduces new methods of working.
Other obstacles were simply, the make-up of the space which included counter tops, light sockets, tiles and windows. I think it's similar to working on a canvas because I find the edge of the canvas to be a huge inconvenience. As soon as you touch the edge, it's a reminder that it's still, in fact a painting. It's a punctation in a sentence. Working on installations like this has taught me that an architectural detail in a space or the edge of a canvas can be treated differently. I think that's where I was going wrong. I was assuming those punctuations were all periods rather than exclamation points or question marks. What happens when a mark takes you off the side of the canvas or wraps around to the back? Does it become a sculpture? Is a mural still a mural when it touches the ceiling and splatters to other parts of a room?
Huge thanks to Craftsman and Wolves for keeping an open mind and trusting me with your space. To check it out for yourself, make your way over to their new Bayview location : 1598 Yosemite, San Francisco CA.
Photos of the space were taken by myself and the staff at Craftsman and Wolves. Thanks for reading about my process!