Painting the AT with Love!
$6,823 of $11,000 goal
I’m Laura Marie Blankenship (LaMB), and I’m an artist and a section hiker. When I solo hiked the first 469 miles of the AT last year, from GA home, I met the kindest people along the way. The sense of community, the absolute beauty, the kindness from strangers, was unparalleled by anything in my “regular” life. The Appalachian Trail is truly a journey, a pilgrimage of the soul, and everyone I met showed me a raw honesty and pureness that comes from being on your own voyage to the center of your soul, helping others, and doing the best you can.
The trail gave me more courage and confidence, not only as a woman or as a hiker, but as an artist. On the trail my name is "Brave" and I've taken this persona into my "regular" life. I decided not return to my other jobs when I got back. For the first time last fall, I took a huge leap and did my art full time! It has been amazing. Before I left I was substitute teaching, waiting tables, and painting musicians live at shows. Now I’m live painting full time and I want to add more tools to my toolbox. I want to get some mural experience. And that’s where this project comes in.
Trail angels and businesses are so important. They are a crucial part of what keeps us going. They are a long, cool drink of water at your thirstiest. They are businesses who give hikers work who didn’t leave with all the funds they needed. They are outfitters who give hikers good deals on merch and priceless advice. I met souls who gave me free food, cold drinks, hard-earned advice, and most of all, companionship and a lust for hiking and being alive. Solo hiking is lonely and at times, scary. A lot of hikers quit. I found this amazing sense of courage and confidence and I only did the first quarter, hiking home. We need trail angels to keep doing what they do best, to keep up the spirits of the brave souls who embark on their challenging, life-changing journeys, to keep them going when the going gets tough.
So I want to pay it forward to these unique and wonderful souls who dedicate their lives and businesses to helping hikers.
"Let Your Love Grow Tall", mini mural example by LaMB.
This summer, "Brave" LaMB (me!) is hiking the 537 miles from one tip of Virginia to the other. Armed with eco-friendly exterior paints by AFM SafeCoat, she is stopping at 2 favorite VA trail angels and businesses to paint them each a FREE mural up to a 54 square foot mural, valued at $2,500.
To be an integral part of helping launch this artisan project that supports the trail, and gives back to those who give the most, get yourself some artsy leggings ($75), OR a custom Brave Buff ® ($27)
both printed with LaMB’s painting “Let Your Love Grow Tall”, or score limited edition signed LaMB Fine Art prints autographed by the musicians of the shows they were painted at ($55) (featuring prints from Annabelle’s Curse and Earth By Train); donate at the reward level you want! (You can see all reward levels when you click "donate"!)
Donate now and receive sweet artsy gear or original paintings and prints! Each donation level has a different reward. Click "donate now" to see rewards and be an integral part of the project.
Vote for 2 of these trail angels to receive a free mural:
*Miss Janet's Van, Everywhere, VA
*Four Pines Hostel, Catawba, VA
*Woodchuck's Hostel, Damascus, VA
*Three Springs Hostel, Vesuvius, VA
*It's a God Thing/One Way Ministries, Damascus, VA
*There was a 6th Trail Angel But They Asked to Be Removed :-(
2 will win a free mural! (Only because of limited time and resources. What the future holds, "Brave" LaMB can't say, and would love to continue painting murals for anyone who wants one. But this year, only 2 will receive a mural by LaMB Fine Art.)
Voting ends at midnight the morning of June 29th. I will depart July 1, hike the length of Virginia, meeting the TWO WINNERS of free murals along the way. As I do, I will check out their location, clean the surface to be painted, and talk about inspiration. The murals will all be inspired by their recipients, and be focused around the theme of oneness with nature, growth, and love. After meeting each mural recipient, I'll work on the mural sketches during downtime at camp. [For more info on free murals for mural recipients, go HERE].
After I reach the end, I will hop in my van-turned artmobile, and stop at each winner's mural location and get to work! Free murals will be finished by September 10th.
My food is sponsored by Whole Health Food Center in Abingdon, VA. My shoes are sponsored by Mount Rogers Outfitters of Damascus, VA. To watch a video of live music painting visit www.lambfineart.com
Where the money goes:
No matter how you contribute, know that you are helping:
1- share love and beauty through ART on the trail, inspiring and uplifting those on their spiritual journeys in an environmentally responsible way
2- helping me realize my dream of creating a sustainable travelling business, and helping me live more efficiently! There is going to be a BED in the back of the artmobile so that I have a place to stay while I paint! I have always dreamed of living in my van and this is a way I can do it and help businesses near and dear to my heart.
3- helping me create consciously-made products featuring beautiful artwork that shares the love and beauty in practical, sustainable ways! (You are the FIRST to get this new PRACTICAL, beautiful, limited edition gear--The Custom Brave Buff ® and the USA-made LaMB "Let Your Love Grow" Leggings) which will be sold in the future at www.mkt.com/lambfineart) if they don't sell out here first!
4- giving back to some of the kindest and most giving people in the world: businesses and Trail Angels along the AT. The trek on the trail is a pilgrimmage for the soul, and many of its pilgrims travel lighter than we can even imagine (both physically, financially, and in terms of preparedness). Trail Angels and AT businesses provide refuge, work, and invaluable advice and encouragement.
My goal is $11,000 to cover the cost of expenses associated with mural painting, paying assistants, turning my old van into a livable art car (or getting a better one), and paying for the rewards. 50% of any profits raised beyond my goal will be donated to HikeforMentalHealth.org !
All rewards, with the exception of the sponsored murals and LIVE music paintings^, will be delivered by December 2016.
^if you need a live music painting at an event before December, contact me at 757. 648. 0490. and we will talk!
ALL sponsored murals (The Eternal Vagabond Reward Level) will be completed by June 2017.
Reward levels vary, but NO MATTER WHAT, you are part of a great cause that gives back to those who give the most & guaranteed to increase your joy level! Thanks for being an important part of this project!
Welp, y’all, I’m done. This is the final of my GoFundMe updates. I painted one painting and I have less than a week before the second one is complete. I truly couldn’t have done it without your support, including those of you who signed on to possibly receive a mural from me without knowing me from Adam.
To celebrate and express my gratitude, I’d like to invite you all to “Party at the Painting” at the mural in Damascus THIS Sunday. I’m making some hummus and guac and I’ll have some goodies from Blue Hills Market and the thrift store volunteers are providing drinks at the mural wall, at 101 W Laurel Ave, from 2-3 pm. If you feel called to help by bringing something, send me an email at email@example.com with what you’d like to bring. Otherwise, it would just mean so much just to see you, the people who made this possible, there on the final day.
The name of the thrift store is “It’s a God Thing Too”, run by One Way Ministries volunteers. I am so grateful that this mural ended up brightening a place that helps do so much for hikers. I was looking at their services during trail days http://traildays.us/index.php?id=13 and they are extensive. Possibly most importantly their services include foot massages. And anyone who offers a hiker a foot massage https://onewaydamascus.com/outreach/trail-day-ministry/
is just a really good person. Not to mention all the food bank work they do https://onewaydamascus.com/outreach/food-outreach/
In my last update I mentioned the first mural being up for grabs. As my initial recipient (Crazy Larry’s Hostel) decided he didn’t want one after all. It is currently on display at the Virginia Higher Ed Center on the way to Room 130. If you know anyone who is interested in this beautiful, large, 8.5 ft long by 6 ft tall piece, let me know. It would be perfect for an office or statement piece. All proceeds go to the Appalachian Long Distance Hiker’s Association. (We’ve already raised over $100 for them so far.)
If you’d like to keep getting updates about the new directions my art and life are heading, sign up for my newsletter, here. http://lauramarieblankenship.us3.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=d98a7c447d8ea8fb77dbe3d86&id=04940780e0
If you do, you’ll be the first to hear about some meditation and making classes during the holiday season!
A final word of gratitude: Thanks so much for your support. In the end, raising enough to have a travelling artmobile didn’t happen, and so many things went differently than planned, but it has been an invaluable learning process. I saw so many amazing things on my hike, met so many amazing people, and now I have my art on merch, and a portion of the proceeds goes permanently to Hike for Mental Health. None of these things would have happened without the project. Most importantly there are now two gorgeous, HUGE, paintings that couldn’t have existed without your help. They are now gifts to the trail and all those who see them. Thank you for believing in me!
It will be up for silent auction THIS Saturday at the Higher Ed Center. From 12-5:15 you can drop by and bid on her. 100% of proceeds will go to ALDHA, the Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association! Bidding starts at $700 if you would like her for your home or business.
This sweet painting has been in my home the better part of a year now. Over one year of painting, singing, doing yoga while I carefully pour my heart into every little detail. I've been a perfectionist with every brush stroke, and now the time has come for me to release her, a part of my soul into the world.
Drop by and see us at the ALDHA Gathering's art auction this SATURDAY at the Higher Ed, where I'll be helping with the art auction and taking awesome workshops about the trail. Visit her in person, just say hi, and bid on cool local art!
I'm excited to say that I expect to finally finish up the first mural as soon as December. I am working hard on getting rewards out in time for Christmas!
The second mural, the outdoor mural in downtown Damascus at the thrift store, will be completed in the spring. It's taken longer than I thought but it's been an amazing process. Follow the progress on my instagram, and follow the hashtag #paintingtheATwithlove for cool hiking pics too. (Blogging on the process at lambfineart.com)
I did raise enough at www.gofundme.com/atlove to get all the art supplies, the eco-friendly paint, complete advertising for the project, and give you all awesome rewards. I haven't yet raised enough for a new motor for my artmobile, so I haven't figured out the whole travelling out of my van and painting part just yet. In the meantime, I've been very grateful to my parents for letting me borrow your cars to travel around, deliver paintings, and paint at live events to help get back in the business of live painting to make ends meet while I continue to work on the murals.
This is my happy face. 500+ miles. 34 days. 14.9 mi/day (including slackpacking.)
Life changing, life affirming, all the good stuff.
Much love and thanks to those who have helped me get this far. Especially Blue Hills Market & Sean Bossie for sponsoring my trail food, some anonymous donors (you know who you are!), and all my friends and family who have encouraged me. I love you all.
Phase I of Painting the A.T. with Love ( www.gofundme.com/atlove) is complete!
I will be in Abingdon for a few days with my parents. Friday I am painting with my friends Annabelle's Curse in Asheville.
Phase II begins Monday! I will be in Damascus to begin the murals !
Phase III (reward fulfillment) will be October-Dec 1. A schedule to be posted later this week.
In the meantime, big, deep breaths, and getting back to yoga.
And finishing my trail journals for you all to read ( www.lambfineart.com has the absurdity of the first few days documented).
And completing beautiful small, full-color sketches of these murals done to show the peeps I'm painting them for. I've got til Monday. And the "hike" of life continues... :-)