Cars passing by on Coast Highway 101 honked. Pedestrians stopped and gazed. Some shouted out words of encouragement.
Those were just a few of the reactions to artist Skye Walker standing atop a lift and painting a supersize mural on a Royal Liquor Store wall in Leucadia this past week.
Surrounded by buckets of paint and splotched with an array of colors, Walker explained the inspiration behind the piece — titled “Remember California” — while finishing it up the afternoon of June 23.
“It’s an ode to Mother Nature, Southern California and the ocean — all the things that everybody loves around here,” he said.
Walker, who lives in Cardiff, based the mural on a painting he created about six years ago. By comparison, the mural will attract more eyeballs, he said.
“Murals are exciting in that way,” he said. “It’s different than a painting hanging up in your house and only friends and family seeing it.”
Even before beginning the piece, Walker had quite a few murals under his belt, including one inside Café Ipe.
A long-time graphic designer and commercial artist, he started painting public murals a couple of years ago, and he’s been hooked since.
“You can bring art to public spaces and engage people in a different way,” he said.
“Being a designer is fun, but when you’re in an office on your computer, you’re limited with your interactions. It’s the beauty of a mural — people walk or drive by and honk their horn because they’re so excited.”
He said reaction has been positive so far.
“That’s great — you don’t want people walking by and going, ‘That’s not good!’ or, ‘You’re putting that up there?’”
Jax Meyers, the founder of Paint Encinitas, a new group dedicated to inspiring murals across the city, pitched the idea to Royal Liquor. And it just so happened the shop wanted to spruce up its exterior.
“Sometimes, businesses have thought about murals, but never pursued it,” Walker said. “Other times, they’ve never thought about it, but like the idea.”
That’s why Paint Encinitas is important, he added.
On June 20, Walker began by scrubbing the barren northern wall. Then he dove into painting, spending as many as 15 hours a day out there.
“That’s setup time included, but a solid 12 hours of painting at least,” he said. “It’s worth it to get all the details and make it look right.”
He admitted that exhaustion had set in by the morning of June 23.
“I was thinking, ‘OK, how can I pull this together?’” he said. “I started the outline work and it popped. I got reignited.”
A public unveiling will be held at noon June 29 at Royal Liquor.
Walker said he’d like to contribute more pieces to Encinitas’ healthy mural scene. He’s also eyeing cities that are relatively untouched in terms of murals, like Carlsbad.
“Globally, there’s been a resurgence in mural work,” he said. “Everyone has different styles. Seeing them play out in public keeps life interesting.”