The Duck Creek Spillway Boogie

For some years, I've driven past a concrete spillway in the town of Fairfax, Ohio several times a month. Although I've never been a huge fan of graffiti, the unrequested spray paint decorations on the walls hold some charm, and it's been on my mind to try building a picture around them. Here's a photograph of the scene:

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So in early June, I figured what the hell, it might at least be worth a 16x20" canvas. As fate would have it, I just happened to have one such canvas in my truck. So I gave it a go.

 Day One. Some people call this a lay-in. On some subjects, it can be helpful to paint everything in monochrome. On this thing, maybe because the subject was fairly simple, I just jumped in.

Day One. Some people call this a lay-in. On some subjects, it can be helpful to paint everything in monochrome. On this thing, maybe because the subject was fairly simple, I just jumped in.

 Day Two. Once the canvas is covered with paint, with everything hopefully in the right place, you can make some editorial decisions. The values certainly needed some punching up. Describing the reflections of the spray painted color in the wet pavement began on this day. It's a project which would end up occupying half the summer.  The diagonal line is clean, perfectly drawn, and almost uninterrupted. In other words, it had to be gotten rid of, or at least broken up a lot. Never allow lines like that to dominate your canvas, or you'll be in big trouble.

Day Two. Once the canvas is covered with paint, with everything hopefully in the right place, you can make some editorial decisions. The values certainly needed some punching up. Describing the reflections of the spray painted color in the wet pavement began on this day. It's a project which would end up occupying half the summer.

The diagonal line is clean, perfectly drawn, and almost uninterrupted. In other words, it had to be gotten rid of, or at least broken up a lot. Never allow lines like that to dominate your canvas, or you'll be in big trouble.

 Hegel would have loved painting. Two steps forward, one step back. Mr. Royce, of Rolls Royce fame, would also have liked painting. His motto: test each part until it breaks. Then find out why  it broke, and redesign it so it won't break. Then test it again until it breaks.

Hegel would have loved painting. Two steps forward, one step back. Mr. Royce, of Rolls Royce fame, would also have liked painting. His motto: test each part until it breaks. Then find out why  it broke, and redesign it so it won't break. Then test it again until it breaks.

 Day Four. I was pretty happy with the effect, but something was missing. Suddenly I heard voices. Two young ladies were walking down the spillway. I called down, and one of them agreed to let me put her in the picture.

Day Four. I was pretty happy with the effect, but something was missing. Suddenly I heard voices. Two young ladies were walking down the spillway. I called down, and one of them agreed to let me put her in the picture.

So that's the story of my 16x20" Duck Creek Spillway picture, which fulfilled half of my objectives for this year's picture-making. Objective one: put figures in my landscapes. Objective two: paint larger. A 16x20" is hardly large. Which meant that I wasn't done, not with the spillway, and not with my model. Both would be revisited. But that's another story.

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