Week 4 studio progress.

Over the last week and a half, the Roc Paint Division squad has had some pretty focused days in our “studio” at Marketview Lodge. Here’s a quick peek at the projects that have been keeping us busy:


This may be no one’s very favorite part of the program, but its an important part of the process nonetheless. For the second year, each artist picked an image to turn into a 3 or 4 layer stencil, under lead artist/stencil master Justin’s leadership. Last year, each artist chose a flower that they liked; this time around, we gave them the chance to expand into the natural world a little more, and the stencil set will include butterflies, ladybugs, and a particularly detailed dragonfly.  These finished products will give our team a set of artistic tools that can be used over and over, for any and all of the murals that we work on. Next week, one of our youth artists will give a more detailed recap of the process- for now, they’ve all been busy slicing away with blade after exacto blade. Our goal is to have all of the stencils finished by next week, it looks like to be reach: their fingers may be calloused and sore, but this team is really moving.





  • Individual paintings: 

At the conclusion of the program, we will be holding an art show at our headquarters to share all of the work we’ve been doing- and in addition to all of our murals, each artist will have an individual piece related to our overall theme of growth that they will be presenting. In these early weeks of the program, getting started on these pieces gives the team a chance to practice painting skills before moving on to working collaboratively on a larger scale. From brainstorming to sketching to starting the final piece (and for N’Zinga, nearly finishing!), each artist is currently at a different part of the process. rocpaint_week4blog-1rocpaint_week4blog-5rocpaint_week4blog-16rocpaint_week4blog-9

For both Mei and Etana, beginning their personal pieces has given them the chance to experiment with spray paint for the first time.



  • Documentation:

Our friend Alex Freeman came by earlier this week to check out our progress, and he made this awesome short video of the stencil cutting process. We’ll be sharing his videos regularly on our Instagram account, so be sure to keep checking back!

rocpaint_week4blog-17rocpaint_week4blog-15Alex and Cooper just having a moment. 

  • Valentines:  

And also, because we did have to work all evening on valentines day, it seemed only appropriate to channel a little bit of our artists’ creative energy into some festive treats.


We’ve also been prepping for our first official mural project, which will be painted on panels and installed at the Humboldt R-Center. In the next few weeks we should be ready to give you all a sneak peek at the design and progress on it!  🙂 Stay tuned….




Let the collaborating begin: Week 3

Over the last few workdays, the Roc Paint Division crew has started really digging into the process of collaborating as a team. Collaboration is a driving theme behind much of what we do at Roc Paint- after all, our objective is to get a crew of 11 people, all used to making art on their own, to create huge pieces of art collectively!  The give and take that the collaborative process entails can often be challenging initially.  To begin this process, we assigned the team into pairs, each of which was tasked with creating a collaborative collage focused on the theme of growth. This exercise functions as a sort of visual, hands-on brainstorming session, giving the artists a chance to begin to explore different visual representations of growth by experimenting with imagery, while also getting used to the artistic compromise of working together to create one unified project.


Below, youth artist Etana Browne shares her experience of this activity. Etana’s quiet, focused energy contrasts pretty directly with Marina’s talkative, wildly energetic excitement, and we were particularly interested to see how it would play out to have them work together- we had observed that despite their differing personalities, they had similar styles and artistic intensity. When we recapped each project as a full group at the end, nearly everyone commented that they had indeed initially wondered about the outcome of this particular pairing, noting the clear difference in their dispositions. However, it was equally apparent that their artistic styles compliment each other and mesh extremely well- watching the way that they not only created a beautiful, incredibly cohesive finished piece that genuinely impressed everyone but also began to form a friendship was one of the highlights of this project. rocpaintdivision_collage_lowres-2

The Collaborative Process, by Etana 

The process of collaborating on the collage project was relatively easy for me because me and my partner both had similar ideas for how we wanted it to look. The brainstorming was the easiest part, but from the start we ended up working a bit separately and started to veer off into our own ideas. Then after a couple minutes we talked, got know each other better and found out we had a lot in common. It helped bring our art together and made it work in the end. The outcome was more then I expected. I thought we would just have trouble getting our ideas to work together and our piece would be out of order and all over the place, but we ended up making a really nice piece that everyone admired.

I usually do my art by myself because I can focus better and not have to worry about other people’s input, but being able to work with someone else was a fun experience and wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

 I feel that over the course of getting to know everybody in the beginning of the program I’ve gotten a chance to get close with everyone and it’s helped with being able to feel comfortable working with people I didn’t know till now.

 When I first heard about Roc Paint Division I thought it would be full of different kids and it would be a hard environment to get used to, but it was way different than I thought cause there were only like seven other kids you work with and they are all really cool chill people that you feel like you’ve been to school with or met at an event before. I’m looking forward to creating the murals with everyone and working together on this project to better the community.





Our other pairs:

As it turned out, Calvin and N’zinga were a natural fit right from the beginning- their ideas As we reflected on the process at the end of the day , Calvin remarked, “It felt like we’d been working together all our lives.” Like the other groups, they used some found imagery but ended up painting much of their finished piece, and their combined ideas created a unified piece that they both felt was a solid representation of their individual inspirations as well.


After sourcing some initial imagery, Dezhan and Ephraim got right into the flow of painting together- something Dezhan mentioned he had never even thought of doing as a paired activity. These two got a later start on the project than the other pairs, and on day two, we decided to really mix it up: we added Mei and our newest team member Kishawn to their group to make a group of four. It was surprising to see how well and how quickly the four were able to combine their efforts and ideas- they each remarked that it ended up being an easier process than they would have expected. rocpaintdivision_collage_lowres-6rocpaintdivision_collage_lowres-9rocpaintdivision_collage_lowres-11rocpaintdivision_collage_lowres-12

Overall this exercise was a great success all around- for the second year in a row, we’ve seen that it works as well or better than any team-building activity in terms of providing a genuine opportunity for new coworkers to get to know each other.  During the second half of this week, our artists worked on sketches for their individual paintings and began the fun of stencil cutting..everyone’s favorite part(?). We also began the process of taking the brainstorming and initial exercises to the next level: creating the sketch for our first mural. Check back next week to see more about this!



In our own words: Week 2

As our youth artists have been synthesizing as a team over the first few weeks of the program, we’ve been so glad that the group includes one returning Roc Paint Division-er from Season One. N’zinga joined us one month into the program last year, and was a natural fit with the crew- and for Season 2, we have enjoyed being able to have her with us from day one. A home-schooled junior, N’zinga brings with her a keen sense of social consciousness, and it has been great to see her natural leadership abilities emerge even more this year.

Last week N’zinga headed up the photography as we finished the painting of the lodge, as well as on our second mural tour. Here’s her recap of week two, in words and photos.


The program the second time around feels good and makes me more confident that I for sure know what I am doing. Last year, I somewhat had to figure things out as I have not painted much in the past before. I feel more experienced and prepared to get through the program this year.

Painting the lodge was exciting to do, especially with me coming back from Season 1 of Roc Paint Division, seeing the lodge transform was cool to see. I liked picking out the colors with the other youth muralists, and getting different perspectives. Overall it was fun and productive.


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 Having the space painted makes it feel brighter and happier. Previously, the environment would be lively due to the artwork we were painting or the people around you. The lodge now with the bright colors helps any downtrodden spirits that enter it.




 I like participating as a photographer- I like experimenting with different angles and perspectives to capture the moments there. On the second mural tour it was difficult to snap images of murals that we were merely driving by. Taking pictures in a moving car was a challenging blur. Documenting our experience is crucial to this project; to be a part of it is incredible.

My favorite photos I took last week are the pictures of Cooper, and how he stares at things as if communicating silently. I also liked taking pictures of the murals we did in Season 1, especially the Campbell Street butterfly mural.



The second mural tour was very cold. It was slightly better than the last, considering that we didn’t have to walk the whole way to visit murals. There was however a lot of coming in and out of the R-Center van into a harsh winter environment. Overall, it was nice to visit more murals in the city that I either haven’t seen up close or at all.


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My favorite murals were: The woman sitting down with green smoke around her. The other was the mural of a girl, a bicycle, and a person with an umbrella. And finally, the basketball/butterfly mural Roc Paint Division did last year. -The first one I liked because of its sense of mystery. I liked the second one because of the shades of blue/blue greens it has “dripping” down. The third one I liked because it reminded me of the people that I worked with, and my overall experience last year in this program.


Seeing the the projects again that we worked on last year at Campbell St and Flint Street brought back memories of the art process and made me feel proud and accomplished to see a collective effort being displayed on an R-Center Wall.



In addition to finishing the lodge and checking out murals, we’ve spent the last few workdays working on collaborative projects in preparation for beginning to paint on a larger scale together- later this week, we’ll bring you a recap of that process. 

In our own words- weeks 1 & 2

We’ve just wrapped up an exciting second week at Roc Paint Division, and its our youth artists’ turn to begin sharing their perspective on what they’ve been up to so far. Roc Paint Division is designed to include a range of creative opportunities, and it’s important to us that the experience of this unique project is shared through their eyes and their voices. Each week when we work on projects and take trips , one or two people are tasked with photographing and documenting the daily endeavors. Afterwards, they have the chance to go through their photos and choose their favorites, and spend some time reflecting and writing about the experience.


Today we have recaps on our painting project at the lodge as well as last week’s mural tour from Marina and Dezhan:

First up is Marina, who’s a senior at School of the Arts and a ball of energy and enthusiasm- we haven’t discovered much so far that she doesn’t enjoy doing. She worked with Lisa at Seedfolk City Farm last year, where she got some behind-the-camera experience. She documented our progress on Tuesday as we wrapped up the painting of the lodge, and she also helped to document the mural tour last week.


Painting at Marketview Lodge

So on Tuesday we finished painting our headquarters on First St. and I can proudly say that it looks fantastic. We managed to pick out the colors with ease last Thursday and began painting the moment we set down some plastic to protect the floor from getting too dirty. It was a lot of fun and with so many people to help we finished in only two days. This was also a great time to get to know one another and I can now brag about knowing more then just my bosses’ names. When it was time to clean up, everyone helped, without even being asked to do so. It just happened.


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One of my favorite photos was the one of Calvin painting the trim on the wall, though the pic of Cooper was a close second. The lighting and the soft yet bright colors worked so well together, and the hair blurred near the side just added more depth to the picture.

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Reflections on the Mural Tour 

The mural tour was different. Not in a bad way! Like in a really inspiring and cool way. I got to see a lot of things that I either didn’t notice or have forgotten about. It kind of felt a little surreal. Like ‘Hey we’re going to be actually doing this’. Despite the cold rainy weather I can easily say I had a great time touring and sneaking photos of my peers.


The murals themselves were gorgeous. One of my favorites was at the farmers market. It was a painting of a woman’s face painted in black and white, blue sugar skull designs on her face, with an owl headdress that became the landscape around her. I absolutely adored the detail on her face. If it weren’t 2 stories tall I would have thought it was a photo.


And second this week on the blog is Dezhan, a senior at UPrep whose positivity is infectious- he nearly always has something encouraging to say regarding our endeavors. Dezhan had his first ever opportunity to experiment with a professional camera during last week’s mural tour, and he got some great results.


Dezhan’s Mural Tour Reflections

My favorite part about the tour was actually getting the opportunity to get out and learn and also familiarize myself more with the murals and what they mean as they display. Personally my favorite mural painting was the one with the two mermaids, I think that one stood out the most to me and I was able to self identify what the mural painting meant to me as it represents. The true creativity behind it really caught my attention. I also enjoyed interacting with my coworkers and learning more about them and what kind of mural paintings as well as art in general interested them.


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The photo that I enjoyed taking the most was the photo of the skull with the blurred background [in guest artist Rachel Farley’s studio]. The definition and the focus of the photo is what initially stood out to me. I didn’t know how I took such a perfect photo but I think that what amazed me the most about it is that I wasn’t actually trying to focus on how the photo would come out. The other photo taken by me that I enjoyed was the photo of the mural with the girl walking in between it. The focus in her jacket emphasized the entire photo which stood out a lot to me so that was one of my favorites. (*Editor’s note: A detail that Dezhan shared with me that I really enjoyed was that he actually saw the girl walking and waited until she was in the frame to take the picture, because he liked the way the color of her coat went with the colors in the mural. It’s great to see such attention to surroundings and detail, especially for a first time photographer!) 


Next time, Nzinga will be sharing her images and reflections from this week, which, in addition to the excitement of finishing our painting project, included our group’s second mural tour, our first brainstorming session, and the beginnings of our first creative collaborative project. (We pack a lot into our days!). See you next week!