While in Costa Rica, watercolor artist Charlsie Kelly, was hired to redecorate a small hotel in San Jose. This opportunity has opened other doors for such a talented artist.
"The first wall paintings I did in Costa Rica were at the Hemingway Hotel in San Jose. A small and charming hotel, it looked as if either hard times had hit it or maybe the management didn't visit the rooms very often. What I discovered was that the manager was a gentleman in his early 20's from the States, and decorating wasn't a priority; besides, he was working full time at all the other necessary duties that come with running a hotel. I suggested to him that I would be happy to dress up some of the rooms as an "inter cambio", barter in Spanish, and that I could be his Costa Rican version of Martha Stewart. He didn't seem to pay much attention to my idea, but later in the month, when his mother came down to visit from Virginia, I got a passionate plea by e-mail asking me how fast I could make it back to the Hemingway. It seems that his mother had come down on him hard for clearly lacking a woman's touch, oboy!"
"That young man became a good friend, and I was welcomed at the Hemingway anytime!"
"While painting at the Hemingway I met a wonderful woman who was working with a multi-national volunteer organization, and she invited me to a tiny mountain village to mentor young people and paint murals. So cool, the community of el Sur de Turrubares has only 57 people, most of them related in some way, and it's only accessable by horse or major 4 wheel drive, still easy to be stuck in the mud for hours. A beautiful, beautiful village with a clear and cold river, wild orchids, mangos, frogs, you name it. Total paradise. I've been there many times to paint in the volunteer quarters, the towns only business (the general store owned by the "mayor"), worked with the kids on paper mache projects, and even painted a life-sized crucifixion scene in the church."
"Another friend I met at the hotel invited me to her vacation home in a small village on the Caribean, and after that first trip I made sure to bring my paints with me each time I visit. I've painted the front of the house with a jungle scene and done faux bamboo in a rental apartment that's there as well."
"The Hemingway then had a new manager and I continued to paint for him, and when he moved on to a position at a Spanish language academy he asked me to meet the owners there and paint some murals. Inter cambio for Spanish lessons, and a bit of money too. So now with my Spanish improving I felt easier in presenting myself to other hotels, restaurants, etc."
"One thing leads to another, and right now I've got 4 jobs lined up in Manuel Antonio and Quepos, beautiful beach towns on the Pacific. And when I return to California at the end of the month I'll continue with murals in a great seafood restaurant in Moss Landing. I approached the own
er of Phil's Fish Market and Eatery after seeing Phil win the throwdown with Bobby Flay on the Food Network after getting my first television in Costa Rica. I turned on the set and saw faces I recognized from my home town area, and thought it must be some kind of sign - and I've been painting there for almost a year. Too much fun, for sure!"
"The folks working at these hotels and restaurants have become extended family for me, and I am so lucky to be surrounded by wonderful people wherever I go. I think it's all about making people smile and be happy, and I am the happiest of all."