Graffiti Star Under Bridge

Today’s watercolor experiment:

As promised, I found a photo with another graffiti star. There was some great graffiti on the wall under the FDR overpass near my home. I couldn’t fit the whole wall in today’s sketch, but the diffuse lighting couldn’t have been better if it had been lit by professionals. However, the section of the wall I chose was partially in direct sunlight, with the remaining portion in shadow.

Watercolor: 5-pointed Star Graffiti Under Highway Bridge

Graffiti Star Under the FDR
6″x4″ 140# Mixed Media Paper

I took the time to ink each brick, since they are an important aspect of the graffiti. I have a very nice brick red pigment in my toolbox, which I used in different dilutions, one for sunlight, the other for shadow. I glazed the upper portion of the bricks in shadow with a watery Van Dyke brown. This dulled the pattern underneath. I washed the shadow section again with a transparent iron oxide red (M. Graham brand), which emphasized the outlines of the bricks. I left the bricks in the upper portion partly obscured by the opaque Van Dyke pigment.

I’m always surprised at details that emerge even though I have seen a photo dozens of times. Today was no exception. The first was a visual joke, the face, arm and leg of a white stick-like figure, hugging the triangular graffiti form. Another detail was not part of the graffiti, it was a tool used to create the figures. If one looks carefully between the star and the triangular graffiti, one will see a paint roller, similar to those used to paint walls of bedrooms.

I find it fascinating that I looked at this photo so many times without noticing that crucial element of the picture.  Just as a good photo says something about photography, good graffiti says something about the graffiti artist. In this case, he or she (with intent or not) left a remnant of the artistic process.

Photograph: 5-pointed Star Graffiti Under Highway Bridge

Graffiti Star – Reference Photo

If one inspects the photo carefully enough, one will see the shadowy paint roller.  Aside from the graffiti, there is a clue about those who inhabit this area. There is a plastic jug on top of a cardboard box and, leaning on the iron fence, is a home-made crutch. Perhaps closer observation might reveal something completely different than a crutch. But for now, that is my story and I’m sticking to it.

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