Traffic Box Art – A mural in the Making

Today is a great day–among other awesome things that surely happened,  I also FINISHED* THE TRAFFIC BOX PROJECT!

A mere six weeks after announcing I got the commission for the 2018 traffic box, it’s now at the corner of Seventh and Cherry for your viewing pleasure.

(*disclaimer: I still need to add the top coat, so please do not vandalize it just yet.)

Also, because I never showed you, here is the design template I submitted to the Office of Cultural Affairs to apply for the commission:

Traffic Box Requested Revisions copy.jpg

To tell you the truth, I was a little nervous about painting on-stage like this.

For starters, the painting process doesn’t look like much of anything in the early stages, just a bunch of blobby colors. It weighed on me that the box looked like such a mess the first couple of days.

I also expected to feel self-concious about painting in the open, but actually it was quiet most of the time, because I painted early in the day before the corner started to sizzle in the sun. Plus, everyone that passed was really supportive, so it turned out to be really encouraging!

In case you’re an artist or are wondering what this next paragraph says:

The template was created digitally using Corel Painter 2018 on a Wacom graphic tablet.

The base coat was Zinsser’s Bullseye 1-2-3 primer (2 coats) then artist acrylic paint (various brands, but mostly Liquitex) and top coat is (will be) Aqua-Shield (UV protectant and Anti-graffiti top coat.) The city provided the base and top coats, all other supplies were my choice and expense. The project allowed for commission plus up to $500 in supplies.

Ok, now, all asides aside, here are some pictures from the process, which started on May 27, 2018:

Day 1: Primed the box. Twice. (Thanks to The Diner’s “Stretch” for making the waiting time between applications full of chili-egg-hashbrowny goodness.)

Primed Box


Day 2: Art-ing Commenced! It looked crazy here, but this was my base for the underpainting. I choose to believe this green gave depth to future layers.


Day 3: A train appears. Compared to day 1, this felt like HUGE progress.


Day 4: I came a LONG way this day. Details started to emerge all the way around. The front of the train got a lot fancier, and the landscape too.


Day 5: The train and rocks were the focus most of this day. To make the whole composition more cohesive, I used touches of the same colors I mixed for the rocks in shadows and details all the way around. It’s more time/effort efficient this way too.

Day 5 best cornerDay 5 sideDay 5 back corner


Day 6: And more train/rock work…


Day 7: After focusing on the train for a few days, it was the trees’ and grasses’ turn.


Day 8: Sparkle and finishing touches added… and The End! 

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Just one last time: before and after:

A humungous thank you to the City of Columbia for inviting me to paint on public property, and for being so pleasant and awesome to work for.

If any of you want to do this in the future, keep an eye on the Cultural Affairs website each January/February to see when they post the call for artists. It is fun, pays well, and is an all around fantastic experience.

If you have questions, or comments, post them! Or, if you prefer, email me at

Thanks for joining me on this adventure!


Traffic Boxes: a new kind of canvas

My hometown, Columbia, MO, has a great artistic vibe. We host the annual True/False Film Festival, the Roots and Blues Music Festival, the Unbound Book Festival, and a plethora of other events and programs to promote music and art. One of these programs is the “Traffic Box Art” program.

The Traffic Box Art program started back in 2007 as a way to reduce of vandalism and beautify our downtown landscape. Each year, the City requests submissions from artists, professional or otherwise, to add an original artwork to a pre-determined traffic box. One design is selected by the committee and that artist gets to make their work come to life.

And guess what–this year, I get to be that artist!

I will be getting to work soon, and though I don’t want to spoil the surprise by posting my concept design, I can tell you it is related to the history of the MKT trail, which happens to run very near the location of the box… my box.

In the meantime, check out the beautiful work from prior years here.


Hello, world.

Welcome to, my website/blog/portfolio home.

Just so we aren’t strangers, I’ll tell you a bit about myself. I write children’s books, and study fine art at Columbia College in Columbia, Missouri. I also work a full-time day job, and co-manage a household with my husband, who is a 5th grade teacher. We have three kids, two dogs, and one cat. 3-2-1. Boom.

I could dress that up a bit, I suppose, but those are the essentials… at least at first.

In that spirit, I won’t share much more right now, save a picture of myself taken by a classmate when I was painting the self-portrait in my portfolio. At least you’ll know what I look like too.

pic mike took while i was painting 2 copy.jpg

Until next time,