The Creation of the Wakulla County Extension Office Courtyard Mural

On August 7th, 2019, at the Wakulla County Extension Office in Wakulla County, Florida, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held for the unveiling of their courtyard mural. The mural was designed and painted by us here at Sacred Visions Studio, Arianna, Kai, and Avery Nakashima along with additional help from multiple volunteers.

Back in April of this year, we saw a post on the Wakulla County Extension facebook page stating that they were looking for people in the local area with artistic talent to help design and paint a mural for their courtyard. Living not far from the extension office, we thought we’d try and see if we could be a part of this mural project. We met with Extension Office Manager Mrs. Sherry Balchuck, she explained to us her vision for the mural, wanting the mural to be impressive to the visitors of the office, both kids and adults alike, and present the natural native beauty of Florida. She told us what she would like incorporated into the mural, and with that knowledge, we created several designs that were than voted on at the Extension. After the design was chosen, it was decided we’d return in May to begin painting the mural.

None of us have ever painted a mural before, believe it or not, so we knew this was going to be both an exciting and challenging experience. Challenging because we never have painted on this large of a scale before, and not to mention, this was a very complex wall, with pipes, extrusions, and big boxes on it. This was not a flat canvas. So we each played to our best strengths, painting the elements we were most skilled and experienced with.

Digitally colored version of our original sketch.

On May 6th, 2019, we began painting the mural. We started with very basic colors to create a solid base for the environment, with details slowly added. Thanks to Arianna and her attention to detail, native wild flowers sprouted across the wall, with butterflies flying in from every direction. Birds and animals would just appear out of nowhere within a single day of painting thanks to Kai’s excellent skills and her many years of experience painting animals. Avery worked on more solid man made elements such as the house, beebox, and trellis, as well as also doing some generic details, like trees, clouds, and grass, all while incorporating his expert critique to help others!

ARIANNA: Painting the native wildflowers for the mural was a great experience. Despite having lived my whole life in Florida, I was not well educated on the native plant species. I know how to identify certain kinds, but not a whole lot. I gained more knowledge and awareness of the local flora thanks to this project. It also inspires me to continue learning about our wild plants and flowers, and I plan on incorporating them into my future art endeavors.

We were not the only ones to have worked on this project though, local high school art teacher Mrs. Emily Strickland helped us quite a bit on this project, her speed at bringing detail to both the house and trees were immensely helpful. There were other volunteer students who helped speed up the process too, especially VicTorrious who painted her share of flowers on the mural.

Near the end of June, close to two months after we started, the courtyard mural was finally complete. The entire project took about eight weeks, or a little over 50 days to complete. But that’s not including the days we took off of course.

KAI: I hope to see that this mural educates, entertains and inspires, bringing awareness to the native species we share the environment with. I feel that nature often gets over-looked simply because we don’t know much about it. Prior to hurricane Ivan, I was a mild bird watcher, and enjoyed the sight and calls of our backyard avians, but it was only until after the storm that I realized how delicate, rare, but also, resilient, nature could be. Mourning doves and Mocking birds were the first birds to return to the area that we lived, Considering the storm damage, these common birds suddenly became a novelty, as did all of the creatures that slowly made their way back. It was a grand reminder to embrace the beauty that we live amongst, and That is what I wish for this project to relay.

AVERY: I hope people don’t just enjoy the art of the mural itself, but become inspired to see the real deal. I want people to look at a real passionflower, not just our artistic rendition of one. I became fascinated by the flowers and butterflies that Arianna had been painting, and thought it was cool to see what a real cone flower looked like after seeing her artistic rendition. So as Kai said, I hope this mural educates and inspires people to learn more about the native species here in Florida.

We must give our thanks to everyone who has been involved in this project; including Mrs. Emily Strickland, VicTorrious, and the volunteer students that put their time into this mural, your hard work and dedication to helping us bring this mural to life cannot be understated.

And we absolutely must thank Mrs. Sherry Balchuck, for not only giving us this incredible opportunity, but also providing us with the supplies we needed and being the visionary for this mural. Thank you.

And our Mom, whom has given us so much help and support in our endeavors.

If anyone has the chance, please come check out the courtyard mural at the Wakulla County Extension Office, 84 Cedar Avenue, Crawfordville, FL (near Tallahassee). We appreciate anyone who comes to see this art in person! If you take pictures of yourself with this mural, share it on social media, hashtag #weomural (Wakulla Extension Office mural) so we can see them!

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