The opportunity presented itself as I was looking though some of the photographs I took years ago when I lived in Brooklyn, NY. I used to go on wandering photo walks. There is usually a reason that compels me to snap a picture. In the photo below, I am pretty sure it was the empty circular sign. Together with the shuttered gate in the foreground, absence of people and bare trees, the entire scene gives the impression that the whole area was vacated – a ghost town.
This scene could be Anywhere, USA, but in the photograph I noticed a street sign that said ’14’. Using the name of the lumber yard (Pine Sash and Door) in an Internet search, I came up with its location at 14th Avenue in Brooklyn! I must have walked quite a distance during that foray, since 14th Avenue was not near where I lived. I had a lot of fun exploring in those days.
I taped my paper to a plywood board with the intention of drawing a two-point perspective drawing of this scene using my T square and other drafting implements. The block like arrangement of the building shapes appealed to me. I particularly liked the space between the foreground building and the lumber yard building across the way.
The empty circular sign was not the focal point for my watercolor study. I was intrigued by the shapes in the foreground plane. the cement was cracked and stained, presented a pattern in contrast to the linear and angular relationships between the buildings.
I used neutral tint at first, applying it to the pre-wetted foreground. After that dried, I drew lines with ivory black and applied quinacridone gold in some places. I used Prussian blue to wash the foreground area, unifying the separate patterns.
This seems to work. The warm colors of the foreground contrast with the cold sky and the abandoned look of the locale. Even though the foreground of the photograph is patterned, it does not have the same impact as the watercolor.
I suppose I could have mirrored the patterning in the lower part of the picture with patterning in the sky. This would have been more unifying but would have changed the entire look of the study. It might be worth trying.