Father-Daughter Mural Project

Early Risers Just finished creating a large mural in the Palo Alto law offices of Simpson Thacher, working alongside my 22 year-old daughter Emma—both new experiences and a great time was had by all. Here’s the color sketch that got me (us) the job.

1 I wasn’t even sure I wanted to do this…never done a mural before, not crazy about commuting an hour each way from San Francisco to Palo Alto, blah, blah. But after much encouragement from the art buyer Danielle Wohl and 21 years of working out of a tiny studio a change felt like a good way to start off the new year.


We started by masking the edges of the 9′ x 27′ wall, located in the firm’s cafeteria. Prior to this my largest painting was 4′ x 5′.


Emma and I, dressed for success!


Recent college grad Emma is a very talented artist, tho not necessarily interested in doing this for a living like her old man.


Working with house paint we managed to finish the three rolling hills and sky the first day. I may have to start using paint rollers more often.


I started Day 3 painting tree trunks and Emma handled the branch details. Her hand skills are excellent and her eyes are much younger and sharper than mine. We taped my dog sketches into place, based on a grid we overlaid atop my original sketch.


I transferred the sketches onto the wall with good old fashioned carbon paper. Then we taped the original reference photos next to each dog outline.


By the end of Day 3 the mural was all set to go to the dogs.


Emma’s task was to roughly paint each dog and then I would go over them afterwards and fine tune them. We had never worked in tandem before.


To my great delight Emma did a most excellent job roughing in the dogs. No pressure on her to complete each portrait and the pressure was off of me to paint 14 dogs from scratch. Why hadn’t we done this before?!


Working in a cafeteria means never running out of palettes or paint containers.


One of the partners asked if his dog might somehow be included. Certainly. So we added this guy.


Done dog.


The final stage was adding the shadows, the coolest part of this painting.


Occupational hazard…arthritic shoulder and being middle-aged.


Plus painting an immovable object means getting into some awkward positions.


And even some relaxing ones. We may have been listening to Perry Como at the time and feeling very mellow.

19 CROpped 25

We spent 7 1/2 days painting this. The last day was spent adjusting shadows and doing overall touch-ups.

26 27

My photographer wife Leslie Flores documented us putting on the finishing touches. You’ll note that the photos got much more interesting.


Looks like a fun place to gambol about.

P1100032 2

The finished mural.


And the team. What a treat for a dad to spend two weeks working alongside and in collaboration with his child. I feel a little like Humphrey Bogart at the end of Casablanca— at the beginning of a beautiful relationship.