By Linda O’Brien | NJ Advance Media for

Thousands of murals color the state of New Jersey. In cities like Newark and small towns like Flemington, outdoor art beautifies businesses, downtown districts, schools, church grounds, parks, public buildings, unoccupied structures and areas near public transit hubs.

Murals can offer a pleasant moment for the passersby who catch a quick glimpse or outright inspiration for those who choose to stop and study the work. But we likely don’t know what motivates the artists who climb the scaffolding, hop on scissor lifts and ladders, and work in blistering heat to create the works that inspire thought and reflection.