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As many articles in THE BEE lately have recorded, in the coronavirus crisis many people have turned to art

JIM WYGANT - Muralist Lauren Blair, shown at the fence she has been creating a mural upon, in Eastmoreland.During the shelter-at-home limitations of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Eastmoreland residents have had the pleasure of watching a large mural take shape on a fence. Over about a three-week period in April and early May, artist Lauren Blair created a colorful montage of flowers and greens and insects on a fence at S.E. 32nd and Rex.

Blair was commissioned by homeowners Hahn and Kelly Nguyen and their son Gabriel. They requested some poppies in the mural, but left the final design to Blair. The giant red poppies and their accompanying greenery have caused walkers and drivers to pause for a lingering view, and to watch the progress of the work, which is now completed. Blair grew up in New York and, she tells THE BEE, "Was lucky enough to have an arborist for a father, so I've spent my whole life outdoors, appreciating nature. I fell in love with the environment of the Pacific Northwest, after visiting, years back." She moved here four years ago and had been supporting herself as an artist, and with restaurant jobs – until the pandemic ended that. "I am now hoping to take on mural and painting work, full time."

In addition to the pleasure derived from painting a large mural, Blair has also enjoyed the social aspect of working on a large artistic creation outdoors. "I love the community that is created from public painting work." She adds that the weeks of painting the fence permitted her to experience, "A joy to share my love of nature on a large scale and with a bigger audience."

This is her first mural in Portland but, as noted, she hopes to do more. She describes the process she follows as sketching out a pattern that fits the configuration of the surface she is to paint on; she then outlines the pattern on the intended surface – in this case, a fence – before laying down a base coat of white, upon which the colors will be applied. The colors are made with conventional house paint.

Blair concedes that she allowed some friends and some children, including nine-year-old Gabriel Nguyen, to fill in some of the colors. However, the work remained largely a one-person task on days when she could bring her lunch with her and enjoy being outdoors.

Blair's website – www.lauren-blair.com – holds samples of her work, including a self-portrait.


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