The hottest part of the day probably isn't the best time to be out and painting a wall in a concrete jungle, but, that's what ended up happening last Friday. It was a crazy day... I mean really crazy. Between moving the scraps of what I had sitting at my old apartment into my new one (luckily in the same neighborhood), my daily hustle, and catching up with my neighbors, doing this piece was pretty much the cherry on the cake. In a really good way. I like to be busy. I hate to be looking for stuff to make me busy.
I'd been meaning to paint over my old piece for a while...but, things just kept getting in the way. Maybe I didn't want to paint over it, maybe I was scared of trying to do another big piece like this...then my artist buddy mentioned some new spots had opened up in the alley. I was like, 'new spots?'
It seems the city comes by on an irregular basis to buff out nasty graffiti. They frown on gang tags and crew tags for a bunch of reasons. I'm sure you can imagine why. I personally think the people who throw them up should work a little harder on making them look cool...or maybe just not be in gangs and instead try and do something good for their community...but that's just me. I didn't grow up there, it's hard for me to judge people who are in gangs and the situations that brought them into that life. I know the causes, but there's very little I can do unless I get rich or into politics. The little I can do to be a positive influence, I do.
But, the point was that a number of spots had opened up. They were in the midst of other actual piece of art, but, that's how street art works. If it's blank, it can be painted on. If it's already tagged, paint at your own risk. Sometimes at physical risk if the other person/gang/crew sees you at it. There's a whole society and culture around it. Deep, thought out, sometimes rough, and from my experience so far, usually pretty collegial.
What really spurred me to action was another artist, though. Not the one showing me the spots I hadn't noticed, but someone who had noticed the openings. A recent addition to the coffeeshop he saw the spots and got started pretty much right away...well, the day after we both noticed. I'd already lost one cool spot to waiting too long and I wasn't going to let it happen again.
I had no idea what I was going to paint at the beginning. The only thing I new was that I wanted to start from a black background...as kind of a challenge and opposite to the first piece I had done. I included the white border because there are some other affects that I wanted to give a try. Also, the last piece I'd done didn't have a border, so it kinda just felt like it splayed over the surface, rather than being contained. On a larger piece I think that would have been cool...where the edges of the wall worked like a frame...but this was in the middle of a space. So...lessons learned in action :)
I stood and stared at the wall for a good long time searching for inspiration using images that I felt comfortable with. Skulls...did that... Astronauts...not quite comfortable yet... Dragons... ... ... I could do that. But, what would be the message? That took more standing and thinking. I was smart though, I did all this in the shade.
Once I figured out what I wanted to say...everything pretty much flowed fast from there. I grabbed my trusty big chunk of graphite to draw my outline. I made sure the lines were basically where I wanted them, that the text I had in mind would fit the way I wanted, and got started with the paint.
There's always that first moment of trepidation, of nervousness, as you put the first wet brush to the surface. I'd say like 30 or 40 questions come to mind...at the forefront it's usually, 'is this a good idea?' Lovely self-doubt, hehe. It always finds the best times to rear it's head and make us hesitate. But, like a champ, I powered through that momentary barrier and did what I wanted to do.
...my fallen soldiers from the primer and first layer :)
Everything looked pretty good to me. I wasn't worried too much about being perfect. I don't want to get hung up on that...because I know a lot of people do. They keep adjusting, and adjusting, and adjusting...or hesitating, hesitating, hesitating...preparing, preparing, preparing... It kills me to see that. And, yes, I fall prey to it myself on a pretty regular basis. Trying to fight my way out of that trap right now...but, I wasn't going to let that happen once I was, well, already neck deep in it. It's early work anyways.
But, there was something I couldn't just let be...can you spot the screw up? Lol.
So, yeah, felt like a total idiot. But, the great thing about paint is that you can fix it :) I wanted to show the screw-up because everyone makes them.
The message felt strong. The image seemed okay. But, I knew I was far from done so I stood back for a bit, letting ideas ferment and build upon what I was looking at.
When the right ideas hit me I moved into action. 'We are all strong' was a good message, but it needed a call to action. Something that told people something to do, be, feel. So, 'Be bold' was what I came up with. Simple, probably silly, but, it's what worked for me.
I still felt like something was missing. Monochrome was cool, but it needed a color pop to make it really work for me. I hadn't been shopping for more acrylics lately so all I had was that lovely turquoise I'd used on my previous piece. Not a bad palette...but, I definitely need more. Though, I think it's good to limit yourself, lest you get lost and confused by decision paralysis. ...even though color theory usually dictates what needs to be done.
...and, no, I don't use proper stirring sticks...yet. Gotta use what you got lying around if you ain't rich.
All-in-all I think it came out pretty cool. Start to finish was maybe 2 1/2 hours. Nothing crazy. Over the course of the afternoon a number of people walked by, drove by, rode by, and all stopped for at least a couple seconds to look and nod. Let me tell you, that's an amazing feeling...having people smile at something you've created. Grandmas, kids, young couples, heavily tatted but super cool neighborhood guys... I'm always worried about the art, the message, how well they pair together. Being a new artist, fuck, it's rough. Especially when I have so few around me that have traveled this path before. That, and I realize how unique pretty much everyones path is when it comes to art. But, like I said, I was pretty happy with this...as you can see from my smile. :)
If you're in Los Angeles, in particular, Boyle Heights near a coffee shop called Weird Wave Coffee, stop on by and take a look at my wall art. I might even be in the shop if you want to say 'hi.' I'm always interested in meeting new people, especially those interested in my work, hehe.
One piece of advice for people who stand back and wish they were, or could do stuff like this...step up and step forward and do it. Trust me, it's not as hard as it looks if you're willing to just put in the work.
Also, in case you're wondering about the paint...simple exterior house paint...brushes, dollar store crap.
Thanks for stopping by on another day of my crazy creative journey. I hope you enjoyed my post and my piece. I'd love to hear what you have to think. I'm still behind on my posts, so please be patient. So much more to come, so much more to do. Be well! :)