Hey guys, it’s been a while since my last blog and I figured it’s probably about that time. I’ve been very busy these last couple of weeks both with work and trying to get pieces ready and finished for an upcoming show in August.
One of the projects that I have been working on is a design for a traffic box. This project was a bit out of my comfort zone if I’m being honest, and I was hesitant to take it on initially because I was scared of the weird dimensions. When I was approached I was informed that I would be able to do a traditional art piece as opposed to a digital one. I don’t have much experience with digital work and although I could’ve opted out of doing a traditional watercolor piece and gone digital I stuck to the traditional route as it is more my style and I think by now I’ve pretty much established a relationship as an artist and my medium of choice being watercolor. That’s not to say I limit myself to this medium but in this specific situation with various other artists, more than likely, doing digital designs. It just made sense to do a physical, hand painted, watercolor piece.
It was definitely a struggle in the beginning as I wasn’t quite sure how to start. I knew what the dimensions of the actual traffic box were, and I was told the piece I was creating needed to be at least half the size of the original in order to maximize the quality of the image that would be printed and wrapped on the traffic box. In the end the original piece would need to be photographed or in some cases scanned. With these instructions in mind, I decided to break down the painting into actual panels as opposed to it being one whole piece. I made this decision initially because I did not have a piece of watercolor paper large enough to meet the “half the original size” dimensions. So I was left with no other choice than to break down the piece into separate pieces that would later connect to produce one large flowing image.
I don’t do a lot of conceptual work or design work in general. The instructions for the design called for a dinosaur themed piece of art. I knew I wanted to incorporate my personal favorite dino, the Triceratops. I wanted to create a scene that told a story. I searched the web for various references and inspiration. I fell in love with the works that had the subjects in mid action poses. I used a couple of reference for the dinosaurs’ body and poses, and then I played around with the positioning of the subjects within the image. later, I rendered details and features once I decided the story I wanted to tell. In the image I began to see these two characters from different paths of life meeting at a sort of crossroads. They are both heading in different directions and it is unclear where this interaction will lead them. It definitely seems to me like there is a startled look and feel to the Triceratops eyes as they spot the Velociraptor. Keep in mind, both story and design are being created as I go along. The story much like the painting/ drawing is developing as I lay down more lines and strokes. While all of this is happening, I am also considering composition and I am experimenting with my line work. I am designing the background, and I am making executive decisions to paint some areas and leave others without color to create contrast.
As I begin to add color, i am noticing certain areas and details that I want to preserve and I decide to to make a bold choice and keep part of the background in color and other parts of the background I paint straight black. This creates more contrast, while also allowing your eye to rest on individual parts of the piece. I tried to focus on making the piece flow. I also wanted to make sure each individual “panel” worked as an individual piece with points of interests in all four sides, as each panel represents a different side of the traffic box.
Once I fill the background on this side of the pice, I start to render the details in the background a bit more. At this time I begin to plan what will go on the remaining two panels and I decide to render some dinosaur eggs in the foreground. I also begin to toy with the idea of incorporating a whirligig in the background as this is a project for the city of Wilson, NC which is home of the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park. I review a couple of references and decide to feature “Duckie” which is one of four smaller gigs in the park. I very lightly paint the silhouette of the whirligig to bring it further into the background, while simultaneously creating depth in the image.
I finish the far right side of the piece with a couple of dandelions. The plants, trees, and the whirligig are obviously not relative to the time or location in which dinosaurs lived. However, I wanted them to relate more to the local environment and allow the viewer to imagine the dinosaurs living in an overgrown version of what would be a futuristic version of Wilson, NC if dinosaurs existed.
In the end we’re left to wonder what might have happened to the city of Wilson? What came of these two characters’ interaction? where is the missing dinosaur baby?
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about how this piece came to be. I can’t wait for the piece to be printed and wrapped on the traffic box for everyone to see and enjoy. I will make a separate blog post with pictures of the final piece once the project is completed.
Update: This piece has been installed and is on view at the corner of Nash st. and Pender St. in Wilson, NC. see images below.