There was a bright spot to the dreary Friday morning as four talented artists from Pilarcitos High School braved the drizzle to mount their mural on the maintenance yard fence at Francis Beach.

This installation is one of several art offerings to be presented at the third Coastal Wildflower Day and Earth Day Festival.

The tapestry of coastal life that unfolded across the canvas was the fruit of a collaborative effort. The gifted group worked together to fuse pencil and paint into a compelling piece.

“The students taped the sketches up in the order in which they wanted it to flow,” said Ellen Silva, the mural class instructor. “I took their drawings, traced them onto the wood, and then they colored them in.”

The picture, acrylic on wood, added a cheerful pop of pigment to the trail with renditions of vibrant butterflies, jovial wildflowers and majestic birds.

Green vines twisted across the top of the canvas to spell out the name Pilarcitos as a great blue heron hovered in midflight.

The idea to weave the name of the high school into the vines belonged to artist Jennifer Aguilar. She was also the person who painted the heron.

“When I started, I really didn’t know the colors of the heron,” said Aguilar. “Basically, I just added some browns, greens. I was just putting layer on layer.”

Aguilar’s strategy worked. Her heron was a colorful contrast of gray feathers and plume in brilliant blue.

A black bird standing proud in a cluster of cattails anchored the piece. Luis Jaracuaro and Luis Gutierrez teamed up to work on this part of the project.

Jaracuaro sketched the plump bird while Gutierrez applied skillful layers of black paint. The addition of a blazing blue eye added an unexpected splash of color against the bird’s charcoal body. Jaracuaro, who has an uncanny talent for adding detail and depth to his art, plans to add more layers to the bird.

Gutierrez also lent his skill to a purple and yellow butterfly that flutters carefree across the canvas.

“I just put those colors together because I looked at them and I liked them and I just put them on there,” said Gutierrez. “You don’t see those colors together most of the time. Butterflies are very colorful, so I just had to.”

The butterfly gracefully gives way to a hummingbird that looks as though it is regally presiding over the entire scene. This creature came to life under the skilled hand of Eduardo Montalvo who sketched the hummingbird after viewing a few photos.

All of the artists involved eloquently explained about how art has helped them handle life’s challenges head-on.

“I like art because it just, like, sets me free,” said Gutierrez, who has plans to explore urban art next. “As long as you got paint, that’s all you need. It’s whatever you want it to be.”

“Art keeps my mind off things,” agreed Jaracuaro. “It helps me to not think about things I don’t want to think about. It distracts me and keeps me entertained.”

When asked if they felt nervous about displaying their work, Aguilar had an interesting perspective.

“The best part about doing a mural is that other people appreciate it,” she said. “As the artist, you might have some negative comments about it, but when other people come out, they tell you it’s beautiful.”

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