Today’s watercolor experiment:
I chose a photo from one of my walks near the East River on the Manhattan side. It must have been early morning or at a time when the light just grazed the surface of an old, retired highway divider. The texture attracted me, plus the hand of the artist. Like the prehistoric petroglyphs, worn away by time, the message on the divider was also eroded, eroded by auto and bus exhaust, snow and salt from the plows of winter and the baking sun of summer.
I distressed the paper with sponge-dabbings of buff titanium, yellow ocher and silver gouache. I wet it and sprinkled on rough salt, hoping it would act quickly to etch and age the surface. I used a combination of black watercolor pigment and calligraphy ink to mimic the artist’s message.
I wish I could have conveyed more of the grainy features of the surface on which the message is scrawled. The message and the surface merge, forming a coherent, animate image.
The message on the highway divider is not carved into the surface as were the age-old petroglyphs. The artist must have known that his or her communique would soon disappear. However, I can’t help making the comparison between these ancient and modern forms of communication.