Window Graffiti

I had a lot of good times walking around New York City with my camera. I seem to be a person with a good visual sense. There is so much visual stimulation in NYC, one just has to walk around and observe.

Today’s vintage presentation:

As in my other recent post, the photograph (see below) from which my watercolor is based was probably taken in the early 1990s, which is when I took a course in color photographic printing.

Photograph - Street Graffiti and Door

I like the visual design of this image. It is boxy, with triangular forms encroaching from the left side of the frame, echoed on the lower right by the sloping sidewalk. There is one graffiti tag just below and to the right of center, and individual graffiti vignettes compartmentalized by the frames of the window panes. Each rectangular shape is framed by some kind of interesting border, from the sandstone-looking wall below to the columns at mid frame, to the frames holding the graffitied glass.


The first notable difference between the photo and the watercolor study below, is the format. The dimensions of the photograph are approximately 8″x5.5″, which is not directly transferrable to the 10″x7″ watercolor.  The choice I made to accommodate the different format was to add more real estate at the bottom and right-hand side of the picture plane.

I’m not sure if I would make that same choice today. I would probably cheat and use photoshop to enlarge the photo image to the watercolor paper dimensions and move it around until I saw a pleasing design. Although, I have to say, I am happy with the way the image is currently framed in the photograph. That was my job as a photographer: to frame the image in such a way that it does not have to be edited.

Since a watercolor rendition of this photograph is not meant to be a direct copy, I would probably enlarge the areas of interest, namely the graffitied windows and figure out how to modify the composition to emphasize this as the main point of interest of the composition. This would eliminate the dead spaces at the bottom and right sides of the current watercolor study.

Watercolor Study - Green Door and Graffiti

Door and Window Graffiti
10″x7″ 140# Hot Pressed Watercolor Block

One strategy that occurs to me is to darken the sidewalk at the bottom of the composition and continue the dark tones to the door on the left side, culminating at the array of square windows that contain the graffiti. The graffitied ‘OK’ could be the ‘eye’ of a spiral organization of the work.

It might be fruitful reworking this composition with these ideas in mind. I wouldn’t mind if the final result did not resemble the photograph at all and was an abstract rendition of this street scene.

One thought on “Window Graffiti

  1. I like both the photograph and your watercolour interpretation. You could treat each rectangle within the overall composition as an entity or object in itself, so that you have one piece overlapping another for example. Also minimising the detail of the larger blocks, changing the tonal qualities dramatically so that there is a distinct separation from each section might also make it more abstract, with the ‘OK’ remaining the focal point, alluding to the original photograph. Wassily Kandinski did something similar in his work with what to me a very clearly paintings of landscapes, harbours, portraits. His work has a very abstract lucid quality about it, but all he did was to treat the world he saw in terms of lines and shapes in block colours that would float and overlap, and be either over or under exaggerated in size and overall composure. However, he created direct representations of what he was looking at. Reality deconstructed in short.
    As always Jack your work, whether painted, photographed, or painted makes me smile and it gets my braincells working.
    Hope all is well my friend.

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