Saturday, July 12, 2014

Traffic Box Art

In March I submitted a design to Clean St.John's for their Traffic Box Art program.  This program is designed to help reduce graffiti and beautify the city.  This is the 3rd year of the program and annually 8 artists' designs are chosen to be painted on traffic boxes at intersections around the city.

I was lucky enough to have my design chosen for this year and over the last couple of days have painted my assigned box.  The city will apply a protective covering then it should be there til the box is replaced or damaged.   The box is located at the intersection of MacDonald Drive and Portugal Cove Road - a busy and noisy environment to paint in. Here's a 'before' image of the traffic box at a quieter moment.

I had lots of support from drivers and walkers on the design and even a couple of painting job offers :).  The weather was hot, hot, hot and windy with the latex paint drying almost as soon as it hit the hot metal of the box.  The first day was truly unbelievable wind and I was covered in paint, creating a whole new set of dedicated painting clothes as the wind whipped the paint off the roller or brush.  Combine that with too much sun and a nasty fly bite on my forehead, I was a mess on all levels.

The positives were many.
  • I created a large piece of art that I likely would not have normally tackled, the box being taller than I am!
  • I completed the piece in about 9.5 hours in pretty extreme conditions of high winds and heat.
  • I pushed my colour theory using a limited palette of latex external house paints.  
  • I connected with a section of the public that may never have seen my art otherwise.
  • I brightened a place in St. John's that I hope will make drivers and walkers smile when they see the box.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

You are cracked

Some days its good just to play and that's what I was doing when I had some time to myself.  This was the result.

It was inspired by a section of a book about creating imaginary creatures out of sidewalk cracks.  Remember I told you it was play. :)  The book is called Drawing and Painting Imaginary Animals by Carla Sonheim. Anyway, in this chapter the gist is that you find a complex crack in a sidewalk or path, photograph it, make several copies of the image, then find all the shapes you can within the crack and gesso around them.  Its quite interesting to see just how many shapes you can find, especially if you keep turning the paper to view from all angles.  Try it for yourself with this tutorial - Blob Hunting.

In the crack I used, a dog seemed to be the dominant shape that I saw so I figured I'd go with that theme.  I used pen and ink to create the shape outline, then watercolour and more pen to complete it.  There was no plan which is the beauty of playing.  The unknown result is part of the appeal.

Of course the name "Cracky" Dog immediately sprang to mind for a couple of reasons.  One, because the piece was inspired by cracks in the sidewalk and two, because "cracky" is the Newfoundland name for a small, noisy mongrel.  It seems a common phrase in Atlantic Canada and I've heard endless times.  Usually reserved for those little "purse dogs" who bark constantly at everything and everyone - also known as "ankle biters". :)

Its a fun thing to do and pushes creativity without pressure.  So next time you're walking on a sidewalk (I live in the country so I have to go to town to get sidewalks), grab a shot of some cracked pavement and see what you can create with the shapes.