Artist Rafael Arana on The Adobe Project

Artist Rafael Arana on The Adobe Project

If you've visited the Adobe in Sonoma, you will have noticed the artistic welcome you encounter as you enter the property from the private auto court. Though the Adobe is filled with striking spaces and interesting art, the mural on the entrance wall is one of the most admired pieces on the property.

Mastermind designer Ken Fulk brought in artist Rafael Arana to create this incredible 8' x 22' tableau. We wanted to hear Rafael's perspective on working on this critical piece of the Adobe design:

The Adobe is such an eclectic whirlwind of artistic thought. Where did you get your inspiration for the composition of the mural?

The inspiration for the mural was a collaborative effort between Daryl Serrett (lead designer), Ken Fulk and I. The composition of the mural is something I paid close attention to. Much of the imagery was stagnant, so it was my job to bring it to life. I chose to use the monarch butterflies and California poppy inspired flowers to create a sense of movement. The flowers and butterflies gravitate towards the cast iron sun, which hangs at the top left corner. This movement can also be seen as a guide directing visitors into the space.


How would you describe the artistic style?

The style is something I've developed through my pen drawings in which shadows and dimension are achieved through line work instead of blending, which is common in pencil drawings or paintings. It is difficult to achieve consistent blending with the ink in a pen, so I've learned to used different line weights to create the sense of dimension. This is a style I had never used on a mural before, but I think it translated nicely. The scale of the mural really highlights the line work, which can sometimes be lost in a drawing on paper.

The scale of the piece is definitely part of its impact on our visitors. Is the scale of the mural typical for your work?

I usually work on canvas. The opportunity to paint murals comes less frequently for me, but when I do paint murals they are generally the same size. Sometimes a little smaller, sometimes bigger.


Had you ever created a mural for a winery before?

This is the first time any of my work has been displayed in a winery (hopefully not the last!).

Do you have favorite part of the mural design?

Picking a favorite part of the mural is hard for me because I feel like every individual moment plays off of one another. Out of all the pieces in the mural, I definitely had the most fun painting the General Vallejo's horse because it gave me the most space to play with my line work. So, maybe the horse is my favorite, although I really like the gun shooting out flowers.


You joined us at the Adobe's opening reception. What are your thoughts on the Three Sticks Adobe as a finished space?

After working 3 years at Ken Fulk, The Adobe is definitely one of my favorite projects. I am used to seeing large homes and restaurants, which are all beautiful, but don't accomplish the level of intimacy that the Adobe does. I feel like this is achieved by a combination of the space and Daryl Serrett's close attention to detail. I think he made the most out of every nook and corner.

Rafael Arana

Rafael Arana

The mural provides such a striking entrance as guests arrive from the private parking lot – what are your thoughts about having created the “entrance” to this oasis?

The opportunity to have my work as a centerpiece at The Adobe is huge for me. Being that I am at the early stages of my career, a mural at The Adobe is something I am very proud of. I feel honored and lucky to have my work displayed in a space with such rich history.

Any particular challenges with this project?

The project itself was pretty simple. This mural was unique in that I only used one color and I didn't have to paint every inch of the wall. The biggest challenge I faced and felt was the sun. The wall the mural is on gets direct sun light for most of the day. Being that it was summer, I was getting toasted for the first three days until I decided to adjust the hours I worked. I completed the mural working from 8am until about 11:30, which is when the sun would start beaming, and would come back at 3:30pm to about 7pm or whenever it got too dark to see. I was able to complete the mural in three weeks.

Last question - since you now have a masterpiece at a wine-focused property: Do you drink wine, and, if so, do you have a favorite Three Sticks wine?

I love drinking wine! The only time I was able to taste Three Sticks wine was at their opening night. I wish I can say I remember which wine was my favorite but this was about a year ago, and I had too many tastings to differentiate and pick a favorite. I guess I have to visit soon!

Bill Price, Rafael Arana

Bill Price, Rafael Arana