The Carlsbad Flower Fields are not the only things exploding with spring season color. On March 26-27, 2016, Parisian muralist Sebastien Walker painted the Carlsbad Art Wall transforming the east facing exterior wall of Señor Grubby’s into a detailed gift of color and character.
Born and raised in Paris, France and now living in Los Angeles, Walker creates imaginative characters only limited to the size of the walls he paints them on. Fresh off a huge mural at the Container Yard in LA, Walker welcomed his newest urban canvas with the passion of a young child and the professionalism of a seasoned veteran.
Walker’s preliminary outlines began late Friday night. These black lines mapped out a complicated cluster of animals, each sophisticated in technique, but as playful as a child’s stuffed animal packed book nook. Lacking color at this point, Walker’s early linework already hinted at the mind of a complicated and passionate perfectionist.
Walker met the wall early the next morning. The young sun hit the black outlines and white background of the wall with excitement knowing that its rays would soon be animating wild colors fresh from the can of the Parisian artist.
Walker’s palette looked that of the shelves of a local art store. Colors as bright as a Van Gogh painting sprayed across the urban wall as village visitors watched, asked questions and photographed—one who returned multiple times with fresh prints of his photos as gifts.
Walker worked through his colors as the sun raised high then began its descent. Walker’s patches of early fills tricked those who thought his mural was finished. In between drags off his Marlboro Red, Walker smirked in a thick French accent that he had just started. He stepped back and gazed upon the wall of color with a steadfast stare as if he anticipated the brunt of an approaching horned beast; the horned beast being the next stage of his mural.
For the first time during this mural, Walker put on his headphones as he prepared to transition from coloring fills to detailing the outlines. Within the repetitive sounds of a late night Paris club, he breathed air into the motionless characters with wizardly outlines and a precise black details. His can cut the twisted colors like a plastic knife through a mashed-up ball of Play-Doh. Passersby gasped as these mysterious color blotches morphed into happy palm trees, a smirky elephant and a peace loving panda.
A gang of animals fresh from the pages of your favorite children’s book appeared within the intricate details. A small island rose from the dark blue water and trees that may have been painted in a Bob Marley and Bob Ross collaboration grew through the clump of heavy eyed animals—all huddling around a recently unearthed chest full of glowing treasure.
The gold coins strategically positioned in the center of the mural and trapped within a sea of blue glowed brighter as the sun dipped behind the Carlsbad Art Wall and the overhead sky dimmed. Some may have thought the mural was finished, but for the perfectionist who paced at the base of the wall for 12 hours straight; he was far from done. A day of details and cuts awaited.
Easter Sunday began early. While Carlsbad families hunted eggs, Walker searched the Carlsbad Art Wall for imperfections. With smoke in one hand and can in the other, he bounced around the wall eliminating unwanted overspray and sharpening the rolls of each character. Walker trampled a path in the green grass along the wall, as well as a path from the wall to the middle of the lawn where he gazed widely and astutely.
While Walker pounced on lame lines, onlookers flirted with their interpretations of the island loaded with a variety of animals, each deep in expression and surrounding a freshly unearthed treasure chest full of golden coins. A suave cat is tethered to a sleepy palm and a hobo hat wearing seagull dangles a plump worm, possibly also recently unearthed though some might presume it once dangled from the cat’s line.
Like the onlookers who struggled to find the meaning of this mural, Walker struggled to find a finishing point, reopening the package that was once wrapped, sealed and signed. Within a mural of such detail, imperfections are bound to be found. Walker found—and fixed—them all remaining in Carlsbad hours longer than anticipated.
If the devil was once in the details, the perfectionist in Walker eventually chased him out resulting in a masterpiece—a gift to the Carlsbad community steeped in perfection and composed of colorful characters all sharing a love for their sandy paradise.