Welcome to Small Town Walls!
Hello and welcome to this shiny, brand-spankin’ new little corner of the internet! Settle in, and get cozy for a brief introduction :)
My name is Morgan Summers, and I am a hand-lettering artist, muralist, and proud adopted stray-cat mom based out of sunny Lynn Haven, Florida. I am *beyond stoked* to start sharing this project with the world and most importantly- you! But uh, first thing’s first...
WTH is This?
Small Town Walls is a year-long project/exercise in slingin’ paint & sharing more about the unique places I love. Over the course of 2021, I will paint a mural honoring (and write a post dedicated to) one small town from each and every one of the 50 states here in the US. You heard that right folks, that’s 50 murals over the course of 52 (short!) weeks… Cue the Rocky-theme-backed slow-motion montage.
I’ve been inspired by other artists’ series that are based on regulated creative discipline (i.e. The 100 Day Project.), but as I am focused on painting murals (and keeping my full-time job,) I’ve relaxed my overall timeline to one finished mural each week.
You may be asking, “why murals specifically? Moreover, why feature random small towns?”
How I started slingin’ paint
I didn’t see it coming, but it was love at first (brush) stroke.
My first *legitimate* small part in painting a mural was the letter ‘R’ in the LetterWest 2019 mural workshop with the man, the myth, the muralist Efdot. After the workshop, I realized that I’d actually been obsessed with drawing on my walls since I was a kid (and sometimes, even with parental permission!) Plus, memories of my one “job” in high school painting custom sneakers came flooding back to me.
The process we went through was both familiar and refreshing- a break from the digital rut I’d trudged in my professional work. It felt great to make art with my hands again; going from small scale iteration, to transfer, to a massive and impactful final result. The dash of strategy and technical skill required alongside creativity felt made for me. Working from all of those angles was a challenge, but ultimately a rewarding one. I made a note of those ~good feelings~ and resolved to find a way to work through that process more often.
Since then, I’ve *accidentally* stumbled into a few other mural projects along the way. From painting one in my "day job’s” office, to an orthodontist’s exterior wall, and even a bathroom mural in my very own home. There’s something to be said for the benefits of seeing a project you’re proud of every day (when you uh… go to brush your teeth.) But I was still searching for a way to hone my painting skills regularly without charging someone for my practice… Thus the idea for Small Town Walls was born.
This Town Ain’t Small Enough for the One of Me.
So I knew I wanted to start a mural project, but what to paint? I was certain I needed to give it constraints to make sure all of my decision-making-energy could go into the art itself. I only have one week to crank out each of these babies, after all.
With that in mind, I looked towards the things that I love. I figured, painting fifty murals of my cats would be cute, but would get redundant pretty quickly. Besides, I wanted to focus on something that had a rich history to be inspired by, but no well-known imagery that would too-heavily influence my interpretation…
The idea struck me like a bolt of lightning. I’ve always loved the weirdest-of-the-weird small towns. Each has its own character, history, people, and quirks… But in my mind, they all share this bold & brash individuality. Each town is set in its odd-ness, and no city-slicker could come in and change one if they dared to try.
My fondness for small towns can be traced back to a few sources. For starters, I myself am the product of a small town! It may not have the most distinct personality out there (though we are a very marine-tied/nautical bunch) but growing up in a small town has given me a soft spot for their simplicity. Hell, coming back to a small town after living in a major city for seven years has revived that feeling in these past few months. Additionally, coming from a small town and pursuing a creative career can be a bit daunting. I aim to make a living doing something no one else modelled for me where I grew up. So if I can inspire even one other artist from a small town to believe it is possible to thrive off of creative work, then a year-long project will all have been worth it.
Finally, I can’t say this inspiration came entirely free from an end-goal I have in mind. My hope is that after this year I will take to the road painting murals in actual small towns! My family took several cross country road trips in my adolescence, bouncing from state to state looking for these hidden-gems. Ever since, I’ve always been attracted to the “touring” life and sought a way to make that feasible for myself. This project is my way of practicing my craft before taking that big leap!
That’s all folks… for now ;)
I believe that is quite enough preamble for the moment! If you’ve made it this far, my hat is off to you- and thank you for your interest. I don’t take for granted your time and it's value in this busy season.
So here’s to a new year, may it be better and treat us all kinder than the last! And here’s to Small Town Wall’s beginning, only time will tell exactly how it unfolds :) I’ll be back this coming Tuesday with… dun dun DUUUUUN- the first wall!
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” - Howard Thurman