With Mike & Mickie Cooper

 Editor's Note: Mike & Mickie Cooper own Murals & More LLC in Franklin, Tenn., 20 minutes south of Nashville. Mike has been painting murals professionally for more than 25 years, with hundreds of exterior and interior murals under his belt. Both Mike and his wife, Mickie, have been teaching mural classes all over the country as well as in their studio in Franklin. They make a unique team in that they are right- and left-brained. (We will let you figure out which one is which.) In this column for Focus on Faux, they are providing lively commentary and also hope to dispel any myths about the illustrious world of mural painting. Mike and Mickie invite you to send questions about the industry and try your best to stump them! Send your questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and put "Fresh Perspective" in the subject line.




How Important Is a Vacation to Your Creativity?

Time to get a little philosophical. When is it time to take a break? Let's face it: What we do is pretty taxing, both mentally and physically. We work pretty hard, climbing up and down ladders all day, slinging our own magical custom paint concoctions, troweling god-knows-what on walls, dealing with whiny and demanding clients, putting up with diva co-workers–yeah, it can be a bit draining. So when do you make the call? When is it time to clock out, even for just a few days?

I can hear you now: "I don't have time." "But so-and-so needs this by Tuesday." "There is absolutely no way that I could leave Becky in charge." Or my favorite, "I can't afford it."

Really? Could you afford to lose a week because you got sick? Or because you slipped on a ladder rung and twisted your back? Or because you were too tired and misread the specs and got your colors backwards? How about spending three straight days staring at your drawing board, trying to come up with something really creative, and all you end up with is four stick people and a porpoise?

Sometimes you have to bite the bullet and simply walk away, just to recharge your batteries, change up your environment and adjust your comfort zone. By stepping outside of your box, no telling what will happen. Yes, you will get that much needed break, but you could just as easily shake up your life. Here's a couple of cool examples:

I was in a funk, divorced, depressed, not going anywhere and decided on a whim to go and play in a racquetball tournament in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Never been there before in my life. Well, neither had Mickie. But she was playing there, too. And that's where we met. One small decision to step outside of my comfort zone and, well, I've been uncomfortable ever since! (Just kidding, dear!)

Another time, years later, I was working my butt off, painting long hours and wearing myself out. Mickie made me take a break and go with her to look at plants, way out in McMinnville, Tenn., in the middle of nowhere. Me looking at plants is like her looking at paint brushes. But because I took that break, I randomly met someone at the nursery, got a card and ended up with the largest project of my life. You never know...

Listen to your body. Listen to your partner. I'm not saying you will meet the love of your life, or get the biggest project of your life, but you will get to recharge your creative juices and come back with fresh eyes and a renewed spirit. Plan something right now. Have something to look forward to. It could be for a day or a week or even longer. And when you go, take pictures! We wanna see! Send them to either This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We might even post some!

Hey—take a break! Nobody deserves it more!