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Age of The Cool People

This archive dates from January 1st to early February, consistently updated throughout the designing and painting process. The large-scale project has been an honor.

"Age Of The Cool People" is an special piece of myself that I'm proud to share in such a grand public space. After a month long process, the mural was an absolute success. View the visual documentation below.

Finished Mural, Feb. 3rd, 2022.




January 1 - 10, 2022

Starting off this divine year with an estimated 60 ft. mural on a side of a building in Downtown Dunedin, Florida. The location of the painting will be the side of the eccentric and historical bar/nightclub, The Blur. Last year in 2021, I painted The Cool People wall inside, so it's serendipitous to be working there again in 2022. Honored to showcase my work in such a brilliantly eccentric and unique town. Huge thanks to and love for Kathy, Dan, and Virgil of The Blur for giving me the canvas of the century! And of course, endless gratitude for Lisa Sampietro of Dorky Daisy Photography, who shot GoPro and digital photo content, daily.

Preparing for the project, I've been creating a series of conceptual layouts. The design is broken down into four parts: The Earth, The Sun, The Star, & The Moon. I want the piece to have a magical, otherworldly feel; evoking a joyful, colorful, and ethereal sensation. And, it's a huge treat it feature my motif of The Cool People to share a glimpse into their world.

My 2021 work has roots in the esoteric, tarot, and zodiac, so the mural will infuse imagery from my current fine art series, Realm of The Cool People. And with my theatrical scenic painting history, I'm not a newbie to painting large-scale spaces. From 2015-18, I was a manic painter inside my two-story NYC clothing/art storefront, Storm Ritter Studio, where I (repeatedly) muralled, floor to ceiling. So, this is such a thrillingly fun project to embark on!

I've been lucky to spend an extended time in Dunedin to focus on the mural. Velvet and I had the opportunity to set up a siesta studio to finish new pieces, including The World. Alas for my studio cat, she is truly heartbroken not to be riding in the lift, but I promised to sneak her into the painting. I dedicated time in December to make stronger drafts of the mural. On raw wood, I constructed three progressive versions of the mural design. All are excellent process archives and will be used as guides for me to create, with a plethora of ideas to jump off from. The final draft will be the main source of composition. At the competition of the mural, all three will be available for purchase, as well as art prints.


First Draft

- 18 x 48 inches, on wood -

Right off the bat, I wanted to created an environment before establishing a story. With elements from a past pieces, like Zodiac Rising, and composition of Morning Masquerade, I roughly starting building a world. Subtle elements started to birth, but lots to develop. A magical mood is nicely coming together. A basic idea, but fabulous jumping off points.

Second Draft

- 11.5 x 24 inches, on wood -

This second draft was done shortly after the first to re-adjust scale and placement of the elements. Playing with colors a bit more, I took note to what to re-construct for balance in the third draft. The more the concept is painted out, the easier it will be to visualize it in larger scale. There's an organic nature needed when painted, so as long as I have my landmark moments locked down, more detail and story will bloom. Still wasn't 100% on the undeveloped lay-out, so on to another version.

Third (Final) Draft

- 18 x 48 inches, on wood -

This is the final mock-up for composition, adding new small elements from past paintings, Frolicking Foliage For Fools with dancing flowers, Gemini Moon with the pearl, Gemini Games with an checkered egg, a balloon, and surrealist sun, The Star with pouring water and detailed pirate ship, Wheel of Fortune with surrealist faces as people, and The Hierophant with the divine crown. The mermaid concept was re-constructed to change the layout of the land. With the column in the center of the building, I wanted to make sure it was balanced with an abyss essence at the bottom center. The intent of the mural is to showcase a surreal world of mysticism and beauty. Luckily the wall has rectangular sections, so as long as I follow the placement of the main concepts, I am free to organically paint. I rather not project onto the wall, but us my brushes as my guide.


- References -

After the general layout was established, I still wanted to plan deeper with additional specific references from past paintings 2020-21. The three rough mock-ups created include "anchor moments" in each of the four panels, meaning, I have my landmarks to develop the composition. But there is a requirement for more hyper detail and storytelling in all elements. So, these cropped images are key moments that would seamlessly marry the mural's story together. I would prefer to use my own reference images in case I need an idea burst during the mural process.


January 10-12, 2022

- Paint Prep -

Choosing the color palette is always challenging as most of my work is created in an organic nature. I planned out the paint strategically by concept: water, land, figures, magic elements. I use gold more than white in blending and mix my colors directly as I work on canvas/clothes/wood, etc. So, it's still a generous palette with opportunity to create countless additional colors on location. The rough mock-ups are painted with my stock of leather paint, so my palette was not as open as I would have liked, as I am away from my NYC studio materials. But choosing the paint for the mural was a gas as I can see the potential for intense color combos.

Photo above is with Dan the man of The Blur! We locked down the paint!

In preparation, all brushes, sponges, rags, buckets, etc. were acquired for the project. Typically mural artists can use spray paint or rollers, plus project on the wall or paint by grid system. But, I'm approaching the mural as a scenic painter with old school rogue values. Obviously I prepared quite a bit, but there's a honesty and beauty about painting on-location that I don't want to lose. And music is a massively important friend in such creation. You can listen to my go-to mural playlist on Spotify. Lots of The Who, Mama Cass, Joplin, Hendrix, Nina Simone and The Monkees, just to name a few.


- Day One -

Jan. 13, 2022: Started mid day on Wednesday, and it took quite some time to learn the lift. It's like a circus ride, I swear. But, by the 6pm, I felt so much more confident moving and grooving. Love to hang on a hammock on the bottom and live there. Kidding, but not really. Game plan is to create the environment and layout first. Just a primary layer of color gradations. Started painting around 2pm, so half day of painting.

- Day Two -

Jan. 14, 2022: Starting 8:30am and working until 6/6:30pm, it's feeling good. Next two days, worked on painting the water and the land. Laborious work but so enjoyable. My set-up is so accommodating and grateful for the assistance from the team at Blur and my dad, Tim. Paint brush cleaning and daily break down is a bitch! When I start really painting the full story, it will be easier to work into the night, as I have a light source on my lift! Definitely a labor or love. Build the world, then add the soul!

- Day Three -

Jan. 15, 2022: Continuing the land/earth and expanding the composition. Beautiful weather and many visitors. A positive and productive day. Time to start planning the second layers of dimension on water/land too. But strong start.

- Day Four -

Jan. 16, 2022: It's rainy and blustery outside this morning, but itching to get back down there! The paint of course is dry and safe. Due to the weather, I waited it out, but still ended up going down to help trim the tree near the right side of the building and start adding on more land/face shape. Painted a couple hours then called it quits due to the high winds and rain. The Blur is right by the Gulf of Mexico, so the wind tunnel was more than expected when up high!

- Day Five -

Jan. 17, 2022: Thankfully a gorgeous day although a bit chilly for FL! Next up today is the main anchor of the red sun and portal door. Initially designing the wall, this was the first concept I put in place due to the pre-existing window frame. Each step is crucial to ensuring that the sizing is correct for the following pieces. After the sun and door frame were added, the first three Cool People were born! Extremely happy with their size and emotion. Sketched in the castle placement as well. I'm using nautical gold paint, which is highly toxic and quite permanent, so it's important larger images are shaped out first in exterior paint before adding the gold boat paint.

- Day Six -

Jan. 18, 2022: Sharpened up the castle, placing another red circle into the composition. Repeated images and colors are always in 3's (yellows), 5's(blues), 6's (reds), etc. Numbers appear as colors so I often use those as guides when I create compositions. There's a madness to my balancing technique, but it's all in my head. Added in the anchor of The Star, and couldn't be happier! So far, the concepts are lining up nicely with the mock-up yet still feeling organic.

- Day Seven -

Jan. 19, 2022: Placing in the divine Gemini Sun and key Cool People details. Sunny day and positive vibes. Each piece that is painted needs a few layers and aging so the final look has an old-world sensation. Began to bring in the warmth as well from the bottom center.

- Day Eight -

Jan. 20, 2022: The ascending trio of people are created. Worked into the night thanks to my lift light. The trio of mermaid people are coming together, who are just absolutely charming. Embedded in their chests are eyes and a pair of lips. Really effective design. Using two hands is quite assisting; brings a sense of whimsy to their characters.

- Day Nine -

Jan. 21, 2022: Starting to implement smaller details on the left side of the wall. Frolicking foliage and esoteric eggs are appearing! Little details here and there, but didn't want to invest too much time as I need to start catering to the right side of the wall. Back and forth we go from here. Layers to create dimension! Worked a little more on the surrealist mermaids, but need to return to them later.

- Day Ten -

Jan. 22, 2022: Battling the tree on the right side. Let me tell you, squeezing into the spot on the lift took some unique technique! But so pleased with the placement of the "Cancer Moon" design and large scale "Zodiac Rising" circle. Creating a symmetrical circle at this angle was wild, but I know it's imperfectly perfect. Lots of details to come in this area, and happy with the basic layout & colors. Added in the three golden Cool People over The Star so I can plan where the next pieces will live in tandem.

- Day Eleven -

Jan. 23rd, 2022: Now we are getting somewhere! The Gemini pearl was born and little details at the horizon line, like the swans. I initially placed in five, as 5 is blue (aka water) but switched back to three, as 3 is closer to the yellow/orange family (aka beaks.) It's my logical mania! The Gemini Sun really came together today too, as there's a plethora of layers embedded within. Just love the energy!

- Rain Day -

Jan. 24, 2022: It poured all day, so I wasn't able to rock it out. Solid rest day as I'm physically feeling it! Working on the lift 8:30am-6:30pm is wickedly fun, but the subtle and constant movement of the lift is a little rough on my brain. Regardless, calling it a null day and enjoying some down time.

- Day Twelve -

Jan. 25, 2022: Details! The astrological wheel was added, as well as the palmistry hand and endearing people at the bottom right. Worked in to the dark with such vigor. I'm having the time of my life and couldn't be enjoying this more.

- Day Thirteen -

Jan. 26 2022: The descending steps were dried and carved out. Brought in the first layers of The Cool People from the abyss. More details with the pirate ship and Oasis sign! The building was originally a bar in 1934, called Oasis, so it's a little historical tribute. Added a peace sign made of The Cool People near the star, straying from the mock-up, but I know it will come in handy with balance later on.

- Day Fourteen -

Jan. 27, 2022: Little hidden moments are the best. Things that will keep people coming back and discovering again. Hustled a lot today and made quite a bit of process that honestly goes unnoticed until the end.

- Day Fifteen -

Jan. 28, 2022: The entire day was focused on micromanaging details, hues, and layers. Additions here and there while making sure every area was contributing to the overall balance.

- Day Sixteen -

Jan. 29, 2022: Getting close! Everything is placed from the mock-up, but now it's time to hyper detail, balance, and age. The Blur held a grand re-opening event to celebrate the nightclub and the mural. Fabulous night! Little did most people know how much more the mural needed!

- Day Seventeen to Nineteen-

Jan. 30 - February 1, 2022: Back at it after the event, starting to focus on the true story and evolution. February 3rd will be my completion date, so lots to do before that! It could be done, but for me, the story isn't fully told. Barely had time to photo and archive, but had that GoPro running! Hustle mode.

- Day Twenty -

Feb. 2, 2022: Now we are talking! Bringing the flow out of the anchors and making the magic ascend! Final details everywhere and game-planning the plaque and signature. February 3rd is my birthday, and it could not be more serendipitous to end this stretch on that day. Nothing could be better than painting on my birthday! Many friends and loved ones around. Too cool. My dad has been a constant source of help with daily breakdown, and he finally got a ride on the lift! Of course I worked late this night, but worth it so my to-do list won't be overwhelming on my bday.

- Day Twenty-One -

February 3, 2022: Best day ever. Painted thee plaque for Age of The Cool People and finalized details. Originally I wanted the piece to have an Age of Aquarius feel, so the name was perfect. The plaque resembles my canvas work with the gold frame. Just love it. Perfect day of positivity, and my mom even went up for the up-close tour on the lift! Finished the day by celebrating at The Blur. Once I re-set, we will take final photos of the mural this coming week. What a ride! Prints will be made of the final mock-up and the mural, and of course the three original designs will be available for purchase.

Below are some shots I took right after the last day. Little details in this piece are essential to shoot up close!

All final shots taken by me! Archiving is a MUST!

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