MELSAYS PODCAST – EP. 26 – DANIELLE BLACK LYONS

Photo Credit: Jo Savage

Hi, and welcome to a new edition of the MELSAYS PODCAST!

We are December 1st, just one month left until the new year! Finishing this year off strong with a handful of new podcast episodes coming your way soon. I recorded this one while I was down in San Diego just a few weeks ago.

My guest for today is Danielle Black Lyons, she is the co-founder of Textured Waves, a community that was founded to propagate the culture and sport of women’s surfing towards women of colour and underrepresented demographics through representation, community and sisterly camaraderie. She shares her experience in the water, as a mom and as a visual artist.

Hope you’ll enjoy our chat!

The podcast is just one click away or you can also listen to it below. If you enjoyed our chat, make sure you subscribe to the MELSAYS PODCAST here -> Apple Podcasts and Google Play. Also, feel free to send me some guest suggestions for future episodes!

Beachwear

Finally back from my vacation, which means back to blogging! Hope you’ve been keeping well these past two weeks. Can’t wait to share with you all my latest travel adventures. New travel blogs coming soon!

In the meantime, I’m excited to share photos from this beachwear photo shoot I did while I was in Encinitas with a super talented and nice photographer from the San Diego area called Nathan Petty. I’ve been following Nathan’s photography via his Instagram account (that you can follow here) for the last couple of months and had loved all of the surfing action shots and portraits he had been posting. We did a 3-part shoot on and around the beach. Here are pics from the first part of our shoot together. The second part will be coming tomorrow!

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Photos by: Nathan Petty

Skylark Acid Wash buttoned up shirt

Sanuk Yoga Mat sandals (get them here)

Stella & Dot Gold Signature Engravable Bar (get it here)

Wave necklace from Etsy

M for Mendocino white tee

Zara aztec print cutoff shorts 

Sunglasses from Philistine Toronto

5 Questions With: Skye Walker

Skye Mural A

Photo by: Peter Hulst

I first heard of the southern California artist Skye Walker a few years ago. I believe I found his website through a Liquid Salt mag post. I was immediately drawn to his art because of the beautiful ocean and nature themes. The mural Skye is standing in front of on the above photo was the first piece I saw of his and absolutely fell in love with it. Yes, I may have a little bias for redheads but his art really spoke to me, it made me feel peaceful. Over the years, I’ve followed his journey and am stoked on all the success he’s been getting as of late. I can’t wait to go back to Leucadia in a few weeks to see this amazing mural in person! I hope you will be as inspired as I am when you read the interview below. Here are my 5 Questions With Skye Walker:

1) When did you start making art? Do you recall the first drawing that really marked you and made you think this was what you wanted to do for a living?

I always say that I picked up a crayon and started drawing and never stopped, but that is pretty true. I was always drawing, doodling and escaping into fun worlds with my art as a kid. Hundreds of hours of drawing in my room and loving every minute of it. I remember the moment I wanted to be an artist for life and for a career. We were living in Gardnerville, Nevada at the time and I was 8 years old. I had drawn some cartoons of Garfield the cat that I thought were awesome, so I sent them to Garfield’s creator, Jim Davis. A few weeks later I got a letter from Mr. Davis (or his secretary) but he signed it, and it said he received the drawings and he liked them a lot! My jaw hit the floor and I was blown away that he liked my art enough to write a letter back. So from that moment on I decided to be an artist for life and if I could, for a career. I remember the exact moment I had that realization too, sitting at the breakfast table.

2) What inspires your art? Your art revolves a lot around ocean and nature themes, why is that?

Growing up If I wasn’t drawing, I was outside playing. We lived in quite a few places growing up like California, Nevada, Spain, Hawaii, Colorado and Oregon. My sister and I were introduced to nature and camping and being in our natural surroundings by our parents. So, naturally, I gravitated to things like surfing, snowboarding and biking. Luckily we didn’t have iPhones, computers or the internet then. We never got a Nintendo (even though I wanted one) but I’m glad I didn’t get it. 

So being in nature inspired a lot of my art, as well as figure drawing and the human form. I do mix the elements of nature with the human body a lot. Usually the female figure represents mother earth and her interaction with our surroundings whether it’s subtle or more prominent. I think if I had grown up in an urban setting my art would certainly reflect those themes. But they reflect nature, the oceans, mountains, skies and trees- but I certainly try to present them in different ways and I’m always trying to evolve my style and themes.

3) As years go by, how do you push yourself to keep growing as an artist?

This is a great question. Just as we all have to keep growing and pushing ourselves as humans as we strive to survive and adapt, artists have to do the same with their art. Case in point, I was working in the Outdoor Sports industry as an Art Director and was pretty burnt out with the same old graphic design projects. But that job security was hard to leave, until I was let go along with 35 other people when the economy hit the fan. While this was frustrating, it freed me from the confines of that job artistically and let me focus on my own art and projects… but it really opened things up for me to return to doing large scale murals. 

I had done a lot of murals in high school and in college, but I didn’t see a career in it at all. It was fun, but a lot of work. Flash forward 9 years and my artist friend Alex Krastev referred Whole Foods to me as they were building a new store in my town of Encinitas. They contacted me about doing murals and that kick started a fire for me to focus on murals. Since then I have completed about 23+ murals from San Diego to LA to Denver to Austin and back again. 

Murals allow me to push myself as an artist all the time. To figure out spacial issues with large scale art that I can’t do on a small scale or on the computer. It’s also like solving a problem each time too, what paints will be best, what colors, how do I reach those heights, how do I get the scale I need and host of other issues… but I love it because it’s always challenging and it’s always pushing me artistically to create new ideas to work with the space that’s given to me. 

So if my friend hadn’t referred me to Whole Foods, I would probably still be doing smaller scale paintings and graphic design (which I still do) and not thinking of murals. But since that happened, it opened my eyes to new horizons with art. Murals are an amazing way to bring art to the public eye and change the image of a neighborhood. But the best part about it is that it’s never easy and it forces me to push myself artistically every time. It’s easy to sit at a computer and research ideas, new ways of thinking and such… but getting out and thinking on your feet and creating with your hands does wonders for my thought process and gets me out of my comfort zone. That’s when the real creativity begins.

 4) You’ve had the chance to create murals and work on special projects with a lot of renowned clients from Whole Foods to Rip Curl and Nike, what have been some of your most memorable projects to date?

My first real job out of college was at Rip Curl as their graphic designer for apparel. This was memorable because I’d never designed a t-shirt before, so I had to fake it until I figured it out. But that job was rad, made some great friends, went to Australia twice and surfed my brains out. Also designed a couple thousand t-shirts and other graphics, really helped me cut my teeth on some fast paced graphic design work.

I’d have to say lately though, the mural jobs & projects all have such memorable situations and experiences, it’s awesome. I had an assistant in Austin, Texas who turned out to be an ex-convict with crazy stories. Did a mural in Denver in between a blizzard praying the paint would stick to the wall, it went from 60 degrees to 7 then to 40 and back again. Since the murals are so big, everything that’s involved to create them is so much bigger which makes it all very memorable.

I just finished a mural for The Hub, Hillcrest Marketplace in San Diego and a woman walked up and said: “This is so wonderful, you’ve lifted the spirit of this whole neighborhood!”. I was very touched by that, she truly meant what she said and that made me feel like what I was doing was good and important. Ten minutes later a car sped by and a guy yelled: “Looks terrible!”. The Yin & Yang of it all, which makes creating murals so memorable. I can’t get those experiences in my home office!

5) For those who don’t know, you are also a surfer. Where are some of your favorite places to go surf?

Ah yes, surfing. A real love in my life. There is nothing quite like it and I don’t know where I’d be without it. I love taking surf trips whenever I can and experiencing new places and waves. I surf my local breaks pretty often and I try to get up and down the coast a bit to get out of the neighborhood and surf some different spots. I’ve learned as I get older that my favorite place to surf is wherever I am at that moment, whether it’s 2 foot slop or 6 feet and glassy. Just being in the ocean is wonderful. 

SoCal Adventure Pt 1

Last Sunday, my boyfriend and I came back from another wonderful trip to California! It was our second trip there in just three months and what a perfect time we had again!

We flew in and out of Vegas again this time, because the tickets were a lot cheaper. Even if you decide to stay the night in Vegas when you arrive, you can find hotels for so cheap there that it’s totally worth it. We took a direct flight with Westjet and got a $20 room at the classy Hooters Casino. I wouldn’t recommend going there unless you’re just there for a few hours. It was perfect for what we needed but it was definitely not luxurious at all… Think Circus Circus… 😉

We rented a car at Fox Rentals, they always have super cheap rates and good cars. This time we got a brand new Fiat 500, which was perfect for us since we would be doing a lot of mileage. Great on gas, perfect for two people and SUPER easy to park in a place like downtown LA.

On the drive out of Vegas, we stopped at the legendary diner Peggy Sue’s 50s Diner, which is right off the highway in Calico (there’s also a great ghost town – an old mining village, in Calico that you can visit). They have a big dinosaur park outside and great Hollywood memorabilia all over their walls. I had one of their famous homemade peanut butter pies, it was ginormous!

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We started our trip with a week-long stay in the Carlsbad/Encinitas area. It’s an area I’ve been going to for a while, I just love the peace, tranquility and community vibe of these little villages. We spent a whole lot of time in the water surfing! Who would have thought that we could fit two boards on this little Fiat?! It was so great to finally be in the water with Offner, hanging out on the sand, doing a DIY beach BBQ, etc. The water was a lot colder than usual this time of year, people were still surfing in their 3/2 wetsuits. I ended up going to the Ripcurl outlet in San Clemente to get myself one, the only one I was missing in my wetsuit collection. If ever you’re looking for a wetsuit and you’re down in SoCal, it’s the best and cheapest spot!

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We rented an amazing studio apartment in Carlsbad a street away from the ocean at a place called Ocean Palms. It’s was the perfect location, everything was walking distance. We were a street from the ocean, they had BBQs, a fitness room, an outdoor pool, fire pits and a really nice overall atmosphere. The studio also had a kitchenette. We spent several nights after a long day of surfing just BBQing and making delicious snacks, sitting by the fire or our little patio.

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Encinitas has really been growing a lot these past few years. There are lot’s of great restaurants opening up in the area. My three favorite spots this time were:

Solace & The Moonlight Lounge

A great place for organic, local American cuisine. I had a delicious watermelon and feta salad, it was so refreshing. We went with some of our friends who also had an amazing meal. Everything was super tasty and fresh. I also had this ridiculous peanut butter cake for dessert… woah! Make sure you call to reserve in advance, the place is usually packed!

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Blue Ribbon Artisan Pizzeria

I had been to this place before but had to return. They serve the best homemade wood fired pizzas. My favorite is the EVOO pizza with ricotta cheese, lemon and onions. We also had the truffle salt and parmesan popcorn as an appetizer, outstanding! If you make it down there, make sure you call in advance, there’s usually a 1h wait in the evening.

Solterra Winery & Kitchen

This place is brand new, it opened just a few months ago. The wine comes from the San Diego and Mexico area. They had some great local wines to recommend, great Spanish style tapas and a tasty cheese platter. I also loved their wine cave and the fire pit on the outdoor patio. It was a perfect post-surfing place to relax!

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Also, another go-to place in the area that we absolutely love and went to a bunch of times for breakfast or lunch is Swami’s Café. They have three locations: one in Encinitas, one in Carlsbad, right beside where we were staying and another one in Oceanside. The menu is enormous, they offer many delicious options for vegetarians, they also have vegan and gluten free selections as well. They also make tons of yummy juices and smoothies. For the price you pay, you can’t go wrong!

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We discovered a great little spot on the drive down from Carlsbad to Encinitas called Pannikin Coffee & Tea. It’s a beautiful old train station that they transformed into a super hip breakfast, brunch and lunch spot. I had always passed in front of the place but never actually took the time to stop. It’s always filled with people. There’s a beautiful patio out front, a cute little tea and gift shop and the food is yummy! We ordered a bunch of cookies, pastries and dessert, it was to die for!

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In between Carlsbad and Encinitas, there’s another little coastal town called Leucadia. They have a rad donut shop and also a great local surf shop held by a super nice guy JP, called Surfy Surfy. I love the shop because they often hold concerts, art events and are really all about the community. They sell lot’s of really great surfing apparel and also make custom boards. They’re also associated with a cute little café next door called Coffee Coffee. If you pass by Leucadia, please go say hi to JP!

Before leaving the area and heading up north to LA for the second part of our trip, we stopped by the biggest all-female surfing event in the world called the Supergirl Pro. Last year, local surfer Sage Erickson had won the competition. I had the pleasure of also watching the young French surfer Pauline Ado in the water. This year, we showed up early on day 1 to catch a few surfers from France, Japan, California and Hawaii compete. This is an ASAP 6-star event, 15 of the top 16-ranked pros were at the competition this year. Not only is there great surfing to watch but there’s also a great “Festival Village” they call where local female-oriented activities and companies come out and organize dance, prizes, contests, etc. for event goers. This year it was Hawaii surfer Malia Manuel, which we saw surf the first day, who took home the $40 000 purse at the Oceanside Pier.

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All in all, it was a dreamy start to this long SoCal trip! The Encinitas area, still remains one of my favorite spots in the world. I truly feel at home there! Stay tuned for pt. 2 of our trip coming on the blog soon!

Surfer Girls

Happy Tuesday from Encinitas!

My wonderful vacation is slowly winding down but I kept the best for last! I’ve been hanging out in one of my favorite places on earth since last Friday – the place is called Encinitas.  It’s a small surf town between LA and San Diego, which has great surfing and wonderful people.

I had the opportunity to check out a great event this past weekend in Oceanside called the Super Girl Pro, it’s actually the only all-girl large-scale surf competition in all of North America.  This year is the event’s 6th year and is bigger than ever.  More than 80 girls from around the world came to Oceanside to compete for the grand prize of $8000 and points that can help them qualify for the 2013 ASP WCT.  Not only was the surfing spectacular but the whole vibe of the event was fantastic. Little girls on the beach running to a competitor after their heat to get an autograph, booths set up for local organizations, Paul Mitchell doing free hairstyles on the beach, etc. I’ve been to a handful of competitions and thought that this one in particular was quite special.  If ever you’re in Oceanside next year, I highly recommend checking it out.  You can see a few pics of the event below.

Speaking of girls who surf, I had the chance to surf with one of my favorite ladies yesterday who runs a really rad organization called The Wahine Project.  I met Dionne last winter while I was surfing in Mexico.  She was there at the time to give clinics to young girls in the area.  Basically, the organization has as a goal to reach young girls who would otherwise not have access to the resources that allow them to surf.  They not only teach the girls to surf but also help promote self-esteem and help the girls develop a sense of social responsibility and environmental stewardship.  Dionne is currently on a trip across California and will be going all the way down to Mexico, giving surf clinics to girls in a bunch of cities on the way down.  This woman has such an amazing spirit and kind heart, it was truly a treat to surf with her again yesterday.

Spending time in California and getting to surf is always so magical! I feel incredibly lucky to be here right now.

I’m off to San O today, the first place I actually ever surfed at. It’s another blue bird day in California, life is pretty good!

Wishing you a lovely Tuesday!

Mel xo

This Week’s Ear Candy

Happy Friday from San Diego!

Hope you’re having a stellar week! Can’t believe it’s already mid-August, the summer went by so fast!

Here is this week’s ear candy:

One of my favorite East Coast ladies, Jenn Grant is back with a new album, which is due out September 25th via Six Shooter Records.  Her new record is entitled The Beautiful Wild and earlier this week she released the first single off of this record called “In the Belly Of The Dragon”. Take a listen here:

As of late, I’ve really been into dancier tracks and this week discovered a cool duo from NYC called The Knocks.  They’ve remixed a bunch of artists I like such as Santigold, M83 and their latest collaboration is with French artist Fred Falke.  The track is called “Geronimo” and it’s impossible not to tap your feet or bobb your head to this song.  You can watch the video here:

Really enjoyed the Beacon Remix of Bear In Heaven‘s mellow track “Kiss Me Crazy” –

Fun new track from Austin, Texas’ White Denim called “Darlene”. I like their mix of folk, rock and retro sound.

http://soundcloud.com/whitedenim/darlene-2

In love with this track from Tiger Love called “Summer Rain”. Their vid is awesome – it features surfing, explosions and a Talkboy):

Next week I get to see two of my current favorites – Sharon Van Etten and Tennis play at Belly Up in Solana Beach (the show isn’t sold-out yet!). Great line-up, super stoked for the show! I leave you this week with Sharon’s performance at Lollapalooza last week.

Cheers,

Mel