BRADENTON -- Katrundra Stewart seemed mesmerized as she stood and studied an epic street mural depicting all the movies in the 38-year history of "Star Wars."
"I was just looking at the flesh tones," said an admiring Stewart, moving a little closer to the oversized image of a young Harrison Ford as Han Solo in the original 1977 "Star Wars" movie. The movie was later subtitled "Episode IV: A New Hope" when prequels were released.
Stewart had come to Keeton's Office & Art Supply, 817 Manatee Ave. W., to buy art supplies when she stopped to admire the homage to "Star Wars" by street artists Eddie Rivera and Richard Brasil.
The murals covering three sides of Keeton's warehouse are nearing completion the same week that the much-anticipated seventh installment in the space opera series, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," is set for release.
"You would be amazed how many people come out here and take photos," said Caleb Hoopingarner of Keeton's. Someone even photographed bikini models in front of the murals, he said.
For street artists Rivera and Brasil, the "Star Wars" murals are a labor of love.
"I am a huge 'Star Wars' fan and so is Richie," Rivera said. "It only seemed natural to paint the murals. The hardest part was picking and choosing the characters that are going up on the wall."
Rivera and Brasil wanted to transcend generations and mix old characters with new.
They painted characters together that both artists loved, such as Darth Vader.
For others, they painted alone. One-half of the west wall, featuring Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker, was painted by Rivera. The other half, featuring Han Solo and Chewbacca, was painted by Brasil.
Rivera and Brasil's aerosol can art is strong and bold, but it can be subtle, too.
Such as the aura around Finn, a character in the new "Star Wars" movie, or the muted colors on the image of Han Solo, indicating that he is an older character in the franchise.
Keeton's began allowing its warehouse to be used for street art about two years ago, Hoopingarner said.
"We started selling art supplies about 15 years ago, and hosting art classes," Hoopingarner said. "We wanted to do an event outdoors."
"Can Jam," a reference to the aerosol can the street artists use, was born two years ago.
Rivera and Brasil aren't being paid for the Star Wars murals.
"We are thankful that they choose to do this," Hoopingarner said. "We are all about supporting our local art community, especially people like Eddie and Richie who are incredible people and incredible artists."
While Rivera and Brasil aren't paid for the mural at Keeton's, the exposure often brings them commissions.
"It allows me to pay my rent over and over," Brasil said.
Besides, it only seemed natural to paint a "Star Wars" mural with the new movie coming out Friday, Rivera said.
"When you pick a subject close to heart, it's got to be fun to paint. How could it not be fun?" Rivera said. "We are both really psyched to see the new movie."
James A. Jones Jr., Herald reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter@jajones1.