Well, maybe not a movement. Just some alliteration. So it all started with artist Susan David’s murals around downtown Lafayette. Two-story paintings, saints hidden in alley ways, squids crawling across entire buildings. They were everywhere, they were beautiful, and they were big! She also did a yearly live-painting with local artists called Project Rooster Teeth.
Here’s a snippet about it from their website:
But Art is the process of making and creating and it is a very rare treat to be able to experience. So an artist at work is rare like rooster teeth. Now we’re vibing! The old wives tale about Rooster’s Teeth and Hen’s Teeth is that they are so rare that they do not exist in nature. And when an artist doesn’t have something, normally they make it.
Project Rooster Teeth is designed to literally take our voices and practice to the streets to encourage a dialogue between our areas local artists, the art enthusiasts, the general public and those whose experience with visual arts, public art, and urban street arts is limited which will ultimately benefit the Acadiana area and beyond.
This year i had the chance to participate, after admiring Project Rooster Teeth and Susan David’s work for awhile. There were six artists and five walls, all 8 feet by 8 feet. It was exciting and nerve-wracking to paint at such a large scale in front of so many watching eyes! The artists i got to paint with were Shelly Breaux, Sarah D. Ruiz, Hannah Gumbo, and students mentored by artist Susan David.
The sketch is a rough idea of what i hoped to accomplish. It was intimidating to paint at something so big, i wasn’t sure where to start.
We painted from 4ish - 8ish at the Acadiana Center for the Arts in downtown Lafayette. Time absolutely flew by. It was amazing to interact with people interacting with the painting. All types and all ages came up to see it and comment on it. It was especially neat to see young girls come up and connect with the mules, or horses, in the same way that i would have done at their age.
Despite stepping back to get perspective, it was tough to free hand such a big piece, so it’s a little wonky. But it got done. We took photos, talked with the other incredible artists, and went home in the rain. It was a strange and wonderful kind of euphoria after the thing was said and done. I was ready to paint more! The bigger you paint, i think, the bigger you keep wanting to paint!
“We was born in the same house” is a line i picked up and have been carrying with me from a Faulkner book. It meant something different in the book, but to me it means we’re all the same folks, no matter what. It’s hard to keep that in mind sometimes. That translated to this painting, which i thought up while i was on a run. It kept in my mind for a little while, and i felt good enough to not sketch it. But there’s learning in sketching, too, so i did that a couple times to prepare.
That 8 x 8 foot painted helped me get comfortable going ‘really big,’ and had me used to climbing a ladder and slinging paint everywhere by the end of it.
Summertime came around and i was asked about doing a painting for some folks in New Orleans. They have four big paintings on their walkway outside of their very beautiful home in the Irish Channel. So in July, in between New Orleans summer storms, i was climbing ladders and slinging paint.
The past two months have seen me in my studio doing smaller paintings, usually 6”x6” on wood. It was an unexpected exhalation and mediation to get to use an arm roller to reach the 8 foot height on this wall. It about two days, and ending in a drizzling rain, the mule got it’s crown and it was done. The individual that commissioned this painting is an artist as well, living by the ‘you buy art, i buy art’ principle. Which i think is so important! You can check out her amazing art here: https://www.hollysudduth.com/
Driving over on the second morning of painting, it was just this electric feeling of luck all over me. The drive took me over the Mississippi River, i could see the skyline of the crescent city on my right. Down Tchoupitoulas to my destination. Growing up and visiting New Orleans, filling sketchbooks with drawings and lovingly photographing the city, i don’t think i ever would have dreamed of this reality. It is really such a blessing to be here now, in this life, and feeling awfully like i was born lucky. If my mule paintings can be one thing, i hope they’re a love letter to the person who gets to bring them home.