Painting a mural in Kerrville, Part 1

Painting a mural
Marty Garcia, Charles Randolph and Michael Schliefke

March 20, 2007 – Despite knowing each other for years, my friends and fellow painters Marty Garcia, Charles Randolph and I first worked together a few weeks ago to install a couple of Marty’s murals at a new complex of expensive stores and condos in Austin called the Domain.

Continued below is the story of how the week unfolded when we weren’t painting the mural. To see the finished results, check out the second part of painting a mural in Kerrville.

It was a laugh filled day, and the three of us teamed up together again a couple weeks later to paint a mural for a 25′ x 8′ room in a large, brand new house in Kerrville.

We packed some clothes, brought supplies and headed west. The three of us ended up having free reign at Marty’s grandmother’s house, which reminded me of my own grandparents. Chock full of embroidery, Catholic paraphernalia and carpeting (after three years of living in a warehouse, even walking on carpeting makes me feel like a king). I always joke 90% of a painter’s job is to watch paint dry. This job started off waiting for the special paint to arrive.

We spent our first day being led around Kerrville, Marty’s old stomping grounds, and we caught up on stories from Marty’s past as we circled neighborhoods and all of his relatives’ houses were pointed out to us. We ended up going to the golf course to drive some balls. I took the lead and made Charles accept his role as caddy, and he lugged our clubs across the fairways to the driving range. After some impressive drives from all of us, we headed up the road to a river and spent the afternoon skipping stones.

The mural was for the Bird Room of a 9000 square foot, two bedroom house on a private ranch miles from civilization. Along the four mile route to the house, the oak and cedar filled hillsides were a veritable breeding ground for hundreds of spotted deer, elk, antelope, emus, ostriches, llamas and a couple buffalo for good measure. The room we painted was literally for the birds – it was the aviary and the owner’s birds were to stay in the room, complete with its own water and air conditioning/purifying systems.

The house itself was gigantic, and filled with incredible woodworking and finishing flourishes. Large furniture dotted the rooms we saw and the expanse of the Hill Country lay outside the large windows overlooking the infinity pool out back. Our mural would be seen from the driveway as four arched windows would create a pretty dramatic viewing point.

Charles and I started each day in Kerrville in very unusual form: waking up early and eating breakfast. We’d be working by 9 each day, and head home around 6. The mural came together great, the ceiling went up first, followed by large areas blocked in and then days and days and repainting and refining. By the end of each painting session, we were pretty banged up and tired, which meant it was time to eat and relax back at the house.

One of us would cook, while Charles lined up the programming on TV each night. Every day was highlighted by a new must watch show – Miami Ink, The Biker Build Show, Prison Break, and gasp – Grey’s Anatomy. I was lucky enough to schedule in Lost and Top Design on Wednesday, and the rest of the time our brains collectively rotted with a steady diet of the BET, MTV, and any horrible reality show Charles could find.

Luckily, there was a set of dominoes in the house that tore Charles from the couch. I hadn’t played dominoes in ages, and Charles wasn’t about to let the novice white boy whoop his ass. Luck was on my side, and I held my own, although Charles’ insistence on keeping me down often played to Marty’s advantage, as you can plainly see:


Charles Marty Michael
night 1 0 2 1
night 2 0 1 2
night 3 1 1 0
wins 1 4 3

The week sped on by, and the realized nature of being outside of Austin and the quiet retreat of Kerrville soothed all of our souls. Charles was the true Prince all week – he ate constantly – painting, chewing on pork cracklins and sweets throughout the day, bowls of ice cream while embarrassingly talking to his special lady friend back in Austin all night. Marty and I couldn’t digest his habits and were often off on the sidelines laughing and making joking asides.
Charles got back at me however, after days of putting up with Kerrville radio – country, country, pop hits, and religious country, we got our hands on a CD player for the mural. Touched by his new love and his tender appreciation for tearjerkers – both in song and movie form, he played the Garden State soundtrack over and over. He knew the Shins songs reminded me of a fervent and dreamy time which now seems so long ago. He’d chuckle to himself as the songs started up, over and over.

One of the highlights of the trip was the food – home cooked meals all week, a couple trips out to some Kerrville eateries, but the one meal that stands out was supplied by Marty’s mom. Arroz y pollo, Marty’s favorite meal from home, arrived with some fresh tortillas one night. Chicken and Rice was always my favorite of my mom’s home cooking, and Marty and I ate it up like wolves. I don’t ever say a bad word about my mom’s cooking (unless its beef stew or cold spaghetti noodles) but this chicken and rice, with spanish rice, was cooked to absolute perfection. I hugged Marty’s mom the next time I saw her and thanked her up and down. Where was Charles during all this? The Prince was laid up on the couch and had a stomach ache from eating sweets all day while painting.