SALISBURY — Just in time for summer, a local artist is finishing up a nautical mural on the outside of SurfSide restaurant.
Over the past month, Newburyport artist and graphic designer Edith Heyck has been transforming the Salisbury Beach establishment's south-facing wall into a deep-blue oceanic landscape centered around the image of a blue whale breaching from the water's surface.
It's been an enjoyable painting process for Heyck, who said the mural's location in Salisbury Beach Center has made for a relaxing and friendly work atmosphere where tourists and passersby are able to observe the mural's progression from start to finish.
"I really love that people stop to comment and talk to me," she said. "It's a really wonderful artistic, public experience."
As Heyck explained, the mural was inspired by a real-life experience of SurfSide owner Wayne Capolupo, who once saw a whale breach while he was paddleboarding off Salisbury Beach.
Capolupo approached Heyck about creating the mural after he purchased her painting of the Plum Island landmark, the Pink House, for $1,000 at last month's fifth annual Wet Paint Auction, which brings together dozens of area artists to create paintings in a single day that are sold to the highest bidder that same evening. Half the proceeds from each painting benefit the Salisbury Beach Partnership.
Capolupo could not be reached last week to talk about his experience with the whale.
Over the years, Heyck has grown to be a prolific artist in Greater Newburyport, with much of her work visible in area communities.
Her most well-known mural is visible through the window of New England Wine and Spirits in Newburypory, and last year she was one of five muralists to paint a wall beneath the Gillis Memorial Bridge. Her mural work can also be seen on walls at the Winner's Circle in Salisbury and Nine East Wine Emporium in Natick.
Last week, Heyck said she hoped to soon finish painting at SurfSide, bringing an end to what she said is the quickest part of her mural-creating process.
"The hardest part, and what actually takes the longest, is designing the mural, then I draw a grid where 1 inch of my drawing becomes 1 foot on the wall. After that, the painting is quite fast," Heyck explained.
In the future, Heyck said she hopes to pick up more mural work and start an art teaching project in Newburyport's Waterfront Park, which she manages.
"One of my dreams is to continue with public art, to start an art in the park program where people can draw and I'll a give free lessons — I really want to let people experience the joy of creativity," she said.
For more information on Heyck, and to see galleries of her work, visit http://edithheyckstudio.com/.
Staff writer Jack Shea can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 978-961-3154. Follow him on Twitter @iamjackshea.