Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Big Orange Splot - rooflines


The Big Orange Splot is a great 1970's children's book by Daniel Marcus Pinkwater about creativity and individuality that I never owned, but remember getting from the library over and over again. The concept stuck vividly in my mind all my life. If you haven't read it you should check it out from your library immediately, but the gist is that Mr. Plumbean lives in a neighborhood where all the houses are the same. When a seagull suddenly drops a bunch of orange paint on his roof, he decorates his whole house and roof with murals and plants and a hammock rather than paint it over to match his neighbors' houses. The neighbors hate it and every night send someone over to convince him to paint it back to match, but one by one all of his neighbors end up decorating their houses in outlandish ways. Soon every house on the street is a unique creation reflecting the owners' dreams and personality.

Part of why this book was so special to me is that, growing up in the Bay Area, I always assumed that it took place in Daly City. Anyone who has driven past Daly City on the freeway will have seen all the "little boxes" that cover the hills: near-identical, boxy houses in an array of creamy pastels. The only irregularity is the curve of the streets and cul-de-sacs over the hills.

So this piece is my re-imagining of the first big scene, based on Daly City. It's based on a sketch I did by hand, while the rest is a collage of watercolor washes and individual watercolor elements (the street lamps, the biggest gull's feet, and the paint bucket) that I did by hand and then scanned. I like working this way to focus on the shapes of objects and the atmosphere of the scene. My goal was to emphasize the sameness and boringness with the repeated pattern of roofs, combined with the weirdness and drama of the seagull dropping the paint bucket over them.

Below are some details and a rough scan of the hard-copy sketch. The piece is designed to be 12" x 24" as a full folio spread, so each individual page would be a square.





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