Playfully Modern and Organic: A New Palm Springs Desert Mural by Artist Caroline Geys
09/06/2023 | Sara McLean |
A mural recently commissioned by a client in the desert community of Palm Springs, Calif. was on display during Spring Modernism 2023. Paying homage to Bauhaus, Alexander Calder and Belgian design. Artist Caroline Geys’ mural is a colorful display of playfulness with organic shapes and a large color palette of 10 Dunn-Edwards colors. Geys describes the mural in the desert environment, stating, “the design felt more true to its surroundings by allowing breathing room in certain areas for minimalism, movement and playfulness.”
We followed up with Geys to gain more insight into how her artistry has evolved over time, her thoughts on the Palm Springs mural, and what we can expect from her in the future.
How would you describe your design aesthetic?
My design aesthetic ranges from linear to organic, precision line work to expressionism, colorful, optimistic and directional. Long inspired by topography, architecture, infrastructure, connections amalgamated between people, cities and nature.
How has your aesthetic evolved over time?
From every series and project, my work continues to evolve as it draws from the past and nostalgia, how it speaks to me today, and how future thoughts impact what I experiment with. I have been a perfectionist since I was young, and my linear and shape work speaks to that. I also feel it is important to create with expressionism and how it can represent the moment I am in—in my life, in my studio and out of my studio.
What made the Palm Springs mural you recently did special?
Every project is special because my heart, hard work and skills are poured into each. Finishing projects with the utmost detail and care while building a wonderful relationship with each client based on transparent communication, trust and humor are always sprinkled in.
Your Palm Springs mural features colors from Dunn-Edwards 2023 Color + Design Trends, including the 2023 Color of the Year, Terra Rosa (DE5096). Why were you inspired to use colors from this collection?
Since I have been working with your company, I have enjoyed following your trends and incorporating them into a custom palette that amalgamates our favorites while creating its own trend.
How did you like using Dunn-Edwards EVERSHIELD® Ultra-Premium Exterior Paint for this project?
EVERSHIELD has been superb for each mural I have painted … smooth for application, consistent in color and longevity. I completed a mural on the rooftop of the loft complex I live in back in December 2020. The mural gets nonstop sunshine throughout the day, and the color has not faded one bit. It’s so important to use products like yours that will last, and I can share with clients of its longevity for their mural investment.
Where did you draw inspiration from when designing the mural?
The mural design was a combination of the client’s mood board and previous designs of mine that we both felt could have its own unique elements to create a beautiful, site-specific work for their home, courtyard and desert landscapes. Bauhaus, Belgian design and ‘how movement’ provided optimism and direction.
What challenges, if any, do you face when painting exterior murals?
There can be multiple challenges. Whether I am working on an interior or exterior mural, every mural and site is different. Wall surfaces, depending on what they have, can be on a work difficulty scale of least challenging to most challenging. For example, drywall is the simplest of the surfaces, while older brick and porous concrete are more difficult because of the texture and how much hand strength you need to use, along with precision.
Depending on the location of the mural and if you can make a site visit prior to submitting an estimate is key unless you have several photos and videos showing the walls and surroundings.
Weather can be another challenge. While I have not had to paint in extreme cold, I have had to paint in extreme heat in Palm Springs and LA, both inside and outside. If I’m in a building that is a construction site and does not have AC yet, I will ensure there are fans on-site, or I can bring one if there is electricity—or a battery operated one. Keeping hydrated, healthy meals, music and stretching are important to me. The physical aspect is always a challenge as well because it is hard on the body and being fit is important. Cardio, light weight/high repetition and Pilates training are part of my exercise routine in between murals. On mural days, I use ice packs and tiger balm patches.
Sometimes a site has elevation differences, so if you’re completing a design that involves measuring and line work, any elevation difference can skew the perspective. There becomes an abstract math to what is calculated correctly and what looks visually straight.
Every shade of color requires a different number of coats, and if you have not worked with the color before, you can underestimate how many coats a color will need to look perfect without streaks. You can also underestimate the amount of painting tools needed on a project. With large areas of paint required and line work that is either organic or linear, incorporating large to small rollers/sponges and large to small paintbrushes. I use a combination of your brushes and my fine art brushes for detail work.
Completing a project on schedule can be a challenge when there may be issues on-site. Over the last year, three murals required taped line work. I seal each taped line to ensure that paint does not bleed through for fewer touch-ups in the end. All three murals required layers of primer or the paint that ended up coming off with the tape so these areas had to be fixed. Those issues can be caused by heat, moisture, mold or how and when the primer was previously applied. Taped line work is harder for brick and porous concrete versus drywall because of the touch-up to complete a mural, so there will always be more paint touch-up work on any of these types of projects.
With every mural and site, I learn more about wall designs and the surfaces—and myself. Overcoming challenges, and through the frustration that can occur, makes us grow and become smarter with each project.
What is your favorite Dunn-Edwards color?
What other projects are you working on?
I just completed a few projects that I’ll be sharing and announcing soon. Also, I received a grant from Los Angeles River Artists & Business Association a few months ago for an exterior public art installation. The installation debuted on August 5 for BridgeFest LA, located at the base of the 6th Street Viaduct Bridge in my neighborhood of the Arts District in LA.
I completed a large-scale mural prior to the install for a new restaurant opening in the Eagle Rock neighborhood in LA, Taco/Social. The restaurant will be opening in mid-September. Their design team conceptualized the mural design, and I transferred the design by tracing large, graphic prints that I scaled and painted. And over the last several months, I have been designing and fabricating new module sculptures to release in the coming month or so. I fabricated the first over a year ago and am expanding on that piece. Plus, I have a few projects in the pipeline that I cannot speak about yet.
As always and is constant, I am painting, drawing and digitally designing in my studio, experimenting in new series.
To learn more about Dunn-Edwards partnership with Geys and her featured works, visit one of our prior interviews here. And to find out more about her life and projects, visit her website and social feeds—Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.
All images courtesy of Caroline Geys