ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – It’s common to see colorful murals alongside the streets of the Key City. Some of those were painted by local artist David Reynaud, who studied art at Hardin Simmons and now spends his time painting.

This summer, he embarked on his largest project yet: painting a mural at the Taylor County Expo Center to honor the Western Heritage Classic.

“We wanted to do something celebrating the rodeo, so I went and documented some photos of Western Heritage Classic, and kind of created some characters based off that,” said Reynaud.

Rochelle Johnson, Executive Vice President of the Expo Center, said she is overjoyed that the mural was done in time for the West Texas Fair and Rodeo. She added that the idea for a mural has been a long time coming.

“Well, when we first talked about making some type of mural back in 2018 when we started the renovations, I was thinking we should do something on the side of these buildings,” said Johnson.

She also added that the Western Heritage Classic benefits Abilene in a variety of ways and brings in people from all over the world.

“We wanted to feature Western Heritage Classic because, of course, that is one of our signature events held here, and that event benefits the expo center,” shared Johnson.

“It is a lot of pressure to think that of everything that I’ve done, that this is probably going to have the most eyes on it. But that’s also exciting. I like sharing what I do with the world,” expressed Reynaud.

He mentioned that he wanted to incorporate the stunning sunsets of Abilene.

“Abilene and the surrounding area, we call it big sky country for a reason. Really, as somebody as an artist and someone who likes painting clouds, I think that’s one of the best resources I could ask for,” explained Reynaud.

While this project came with its challenges, he enjoyed the process of working on it this summer.

“It’s a rougher texture than I ever painted on before. That just means more layers, that means painting slower, that means willing to go back and paint the same character two to three times,” Reynaud explained.

What he looked forward to the most was signing the finished piece.

“My family is from Louisiana. I’m very proud of my family, and what it takes is a lot of generations of work for someone to be able to say, ‘Okay, I’m just going to be an artist, and this is my life,’ you know, putting those seven letters [Reynaud] to me carries the weight of everybody that put the work in so I can tell our stories,” shared Reynaud.

At a private unveiling, Reynaud signed the finished piece. He shared that he is thankful for the support he received along the way.

“I got a lot of my close friends that I consider my family here with me, and I’m so blessed to have the people in my life that I do that push me to be something further than I ever thought I could be,” expressed Reynaud.

He feels connected to the mural he painted in his own special way.

“In a lot of ways, it’s like being a cowboy. It’s a hard life, but it’s the life I chose, and I wouldn’t pick a different one,” shared Reynaud.

Johnson said in the future, they hope to paint a mural to honor the rodeo and other events that happen at the Expo Center.