It’s raining cats and dogs reflection

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When I started this project I wanted to do something that was uniquely displayed, was permanent, was unexpected and outrageous for me, involved paint and was hidden. I specifically wanted to work with the elements of dry vs. wet to express the unique metaphor “it’s raining cats and dogs” in a whimsical way. I looked at other artists and designs in the field, and about the field, of graffiti street art to subtly influence my own project. I practiced and failed various aspects of my piece in hopes of obtaining the outcome I had envisioned in my head.  Now that my work is completed I deem this project as a success.

I accomplished everything that I wanted as well as broaden my scope of artistic hobbies and abilities. I actually used the elements of nature to work with art. I learned that spray paint is messy and needs to be done fast, that I don’t have a steady hand with an X-Acto knife, graffiti is not an ugly art form, and that graffiti is hard work. I feel that this project will influence my work as a graphic designer because it made me think creatively in short amount of time and to focus on various components to make a whole. This project will also push me to do things outside my comfort zone and not be afraid to try something new, which makes me a better artist and person.

laying the rocks and finished project after the rain

After pasting the rocks along the path, I quickly went to my normal Wednesday classes. At the time it was not raining but I knew that it would. Of course throughout the day it rained off an on and I knew that when my classes were done I was heading straight to the SBSB back courtyard. When I had arrived I was pleasantly relived to see my work in all its glory. The sign came out great and looked awesome with the water bubbling on top of it. The concrete paw prints came out looking right, however I didn’t make the stencils outer edges large enough so that there was a defined edge that looks a little odd. The rocks came out very interesting. It seemed that they had came out in a success, failure pattern. The larger reddish, tan, brown, rocks looked great and were very defined. Lighter gray or white rocks didn’t even show up. The water did do the bubbling effect on them but the pattern didn’t show through when they were wet. I was little bummed that the entire piece I had put down didn’t come together they way I had hoped but overall the little success I did have out weighed the negatives.

These pictures do not do this piece justice. The pictures are less defined compared to the real thing. I find it best to actually see the paw prints when the pictures are smaller and you step back from the images.   

Laying the real sign and rock collecting before the rain

The storm that was scheduled to hit San Diego early Wednesday was both a blessing and time crunch for this project. Due to the likelihood of rain in the upcoming forecast, I knew that if I didn’t paste my sign down on Tuesday, in the location I wanted, then I wouldn’t be able to complete this project. I knew that I wanted to have my project on campus and I also knew that I wanted it to be placed near the arts building but also in a somewhat hidden location. I have spent a few hours in the back court yard of SBSB and thought that the location was perfect. I specifically chose to set up my project on the walkway that comes off of the backside of the SBSB stairs and follows the curved path to the bridge. Having to move fast, at the first light that marks the path I slapped down my “it’s raining cats and dogs” stencil, tapped it tight and began to spray its entirety. I also brought along two paw print stencils to physical paste onto the concrete near the sign. I made sure to spray the sign and the paw prints evenly and was carful not to over spray them. After the first layer was dry, I sprayed the second coat, waited a few minutes, pulled up the stencils and left them to dry. Knowing that rain was to hit early the next day I hoped for success.

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While waiting for the sign to dry I also began picking up rocks to spray paw prints on and place into the environment the next morning. I tried to find very flat and smooth rocks ranging in various sizes. In total, I brought home roughly 40 pound of rocks. Once I got them home I tightly taped the large and small stencils to them and sprayed the first, then the second layer and then let them dry over night. In the morning, I quickly removed the stencils and attempted to put tape on the bottoms of the rocks so that when I placed them back in the bag I knew that they would go tape side down. I was unable to test all of the rocks before I left for the day and was going to have to hope for the best.

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Attempt 2: clay pot and practice sign

Learning from the mistakes of my first attempt, I retried it again on an old clay pot. This test was much more successful. I only sprayed the pot lightly on the first and second layers and the paint seemed to stay formed to the stencil.

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With the success of the pot, I wanted to practice my “it’s raining cats and dogs” sign. I used an old piece of hard cardboard and was sure to keep the stencil flat and tape the edges tight. I also took extra precautions and glued down some of the corners of the letter that were sticking up, such as the G, N and the S. Once dried the sign came out just as I had expected it to and I was very happy with it.  I then wanted to actually apply it in it’s permanent setting on campus.

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Attempt 1: Practice Rock

After barrowing a rock that I found on campus, I taped a small paw print stencil on top of it. After reading the direction carefully I applied the first layer of spray-paint waited for it to dry, then sprayed the second layer and let it dry. I believe that I might have sprayed too much, too close but this didn’t become apparent until I saw the final product. When I got the rock wet, rather than having the stencil be defined to where you can see all of the paw prints it came out all blobby. I did notice that the edges just out side the tape looked great. This propelled me to do a second attempt but with less pressure.

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Although this test was not a success I did realize that If I did the designs on rocks I could allow the project to be movable and stay on campus. I think it would be neat to have a project that is actually on campus.

Application phase

Stencils:

I created traceable designs in Adobe illustrator and then printed them out on regular sheets of paper. My designs were paw prints and the words “It’s raining cats and dogs.” From the regular sheets of paper, I pasted the design onto poster board. In my first attempts, I tried to cut out my stencil with an X-Acto knife. This was a failure because I don’t have a steady hand and my stencil formations looked really bad. While at the grocery store a day later, I saw one of those pumpkin carving stencil books that came with a set a tools, which gave me the idea to pierce holes along the outside of the stencil, much like the process of cutting a pumpkin. After poking holes with a pushpin I then used the X-Acto knife to follow the piercings. This resulted in a much cleaner look that I was happier with.

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Needed materials

Rust-Oleum Never wet spray paint

Poster board

Masking tape

X-Acto knife

Gloves

Breathing safe mask

Project write up

At this point I know that I want my work to be animal related, spray painted stencil piece, out doors, rain/water induced and simple.

In an outdoor area, spray paint the words/sign “It’s raining cats and dog,” then spray paint a varying path of paw prints leading to or away (depending on direction) from the sign using stencils on concrete.

Use water repelling spray paint so that when the concrete is dry the sign and the paw prints remain hidden.

When it rains, the message will be unmasked, and the words “It’s raining cats and dog,” and a display of paw prints will reveal itself, looking as if an animal had just walked through the area.

Looking at other artists work

Knowing that my medium was most likely going to be spray paint, I started looking and different graffiti artists. During my search I found three inspirational, informative and helpful artists/ pieces. I particularly liked looking at one artist who goes by the name ROA, who does animal based street art.

Primarily based in Europe with a few pieces in the United States, ROA focuses his work on animals and paints them in a large scale on the back of abandoned factories or buildings and in the areas they once inhabited. With the use of only black and white paint, he also chooses to portray the animals in a rather creepy and morbid way sometimes painting decaying animals, while keeping it relatively simple.  Although the work is just a bit to dark for me I do like how he uses the space of the building he works on. For instance in one of his works that has an alligator in it, the building has a prominent fire escape right in the center. Rather than pretending the fire escape isn’t there, ROA uses the structure to shape the alligators tail in a unique and creative way. I really liked that he used his surroundings to enhance the piece.

While searching for inspirational ideas I came across an interesting advertisement for WWF. Back in 2010 the World Wildlife Fund created a campaign called “what will it take before we respect the planet,” where they had pictures of various endangered animals covered in graffiti.

The ads were created to spark an action of “clean up.” This ad projected a very interesting thought about how society views graffiti negatively and that it should be removed/ cleaned. In a previously submitted paper, I wrote last week about how I asked others what they thought about spray paint art and was met with resistance. My family’s thoughts on graffiti were that it is ugly and it’s ruining perfectly good buildings and fences. Members of my family would have looked at these ads and would have agreed with the message. Looking at them, today I do believe that the message is a bit strong and paints a negative light on an art form that can be beautiful and creative.

Also while searching for ideas I came across an interesting stencil based street art duo that goes by the name Broken Crow. Based out of Minneapolis, the duo does mostly whimsical animal art in bright colors. My absolute favorite piece of theirs that I actually had found on the popular website, Buzzfeed, works with some strategically placed cheetahs. I have to say that this piece has very two unique parts. The first is just how the art looks so simple when just looking at it. The second is the use of motion to change the view of the piece. While in motion the piece is moving across the wall, it’s living art. I find it amazing how much strategic planning and timing went into this to get it to its end result.

From looking at these examples I know that I want my piece to be simple like ROA’s work, but not as grim. I want to make a piece that helps the art form of graffiti, not hinder it. And I want to also put some strategic thought into my piece.

Looking at the metaphorical properties of rain/ water.

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While attempting to research metaphorical properties of rain and water I became very overwhelmed. It seems that water can have hundreds of metaphorical properties and rain can have another hundred properties. Rain/water had a biblical presence that was all across the map. In some instances water meant truth and knowledge and in others it meant cleansing and judgment. One of my favorite biblically related rain references I came across during my search was (Job 36:27-31); “for he (God) maketh small the drops of water:
They pour down rain according to the vapor thereof;
Which the clouds do drop and distill upon man abundantly.
For by them judgeth he the people; he giveth meat in abundance.” I like how in this verse there is this clash of ideas with judgment from a bigger force/presence and how something so small such as rain can have a big impact. Although I probably could have written an entire paper on biblical verses relating to water and rain, I didn’t want my focus to be only based on the bible.

Although biblically speaking water is or can be “cleansing,” in my opinion it can also be used to hide or conceal. When I think of water being used to hide something, my first thought is of old school New York gangsters using the phrase “sleeping with the fishes,” which meant hiding a body in a lake or in some sort of water. It’s a little creepy but still an interesting thought. Water also has things/animals that hide in it. Animals such as crocodiles, sharks, jellyfish, various types of bacteria, etc, are in or under water and are able to be concealed by it. Not being able to see what lies beneath the surface of various bodies of water is what masks various animals’ presents an added element of fear.

Another classic perspective about rain is that it has negative emotional effects. Words associated with rain can be cold, or sadness, misery and isolation. There are not a lot of positive associations with rain, except for rainbows, but that is a totally different ball of wax. People can even sufferer from depression during long bouts of cold weather. SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder, is short term depression brought on mostly during winter because of a lack of sunlight that hinders the bodies production of vitamin D (Board). Some of the symptoms noted by the U.S. National Library of Medicine include, “sluggish movements, hopelessness, less energy, the inability to concentrate and social withdrawal.” Wow, that’s a little sad that there is a disorder that is brought out from cold weather/ rain and that it is called SAD.

From this research I think that I want to work into my piece on something comprised of various elements to make a whole; still work in something that hides, and something that is actually has a little bit of fun in it in hopes of stamping out SAD.

Citations:

The Holy Bible, King James Version. New York: Oxford Edition: 1769; King James Bible Online, 2008. Web. 2 Oct. 2013.  http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/.

Board, Adam. Editorial. “Seasonal Affective Disorder.” Seasonal Affective Disorder. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 03 Aug. 2013. Web. 2 Oct. 2013. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002499/&gt;.