The weather has been on my side. No rain has interfered with work on a public art project in South San Francisco. It’s been sunny and beautiful to be painting outdoors. Not being familiar with the area’s microclimate was unsure of what to expect. Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday were all beautiful and sunny days. Overall, I spent 36 hours painting not including the commute.
The utility box is located between two hillsides on the intersection of Hillside Blvd. and Sister Cities Blvd. in South San Francisco. The area is a diverse community with an eclectic mix of houses: one side charming bungalows and the other new developments. While working, the neighborhood was welcoming and positive. Drivers in their cars honked their horns, gave a thumb’s up, shouted praise, and waived. Gave out business cards to perspective new clients and talked Giants baseball mixed with art with passersby.
Prior to painting, the utility box was primed by the city. The first step was to paint three base coats of my primary color. After each layer, I would wipe down the surface from bugs or debris from the above trees. The goal was to make sure contamination would be kept to a minimum.
My design had to be modified to fit the unique shape. It wasn’t a perfect shape. As a result, made additional sketches to make sure the pattern wrapped around the corners and edges to create a seamless look. Set up the work area with drop cloths, cones with caution tape, a ladder, and radio to listen to World Series mania. In addition, a bucket of water was nearby due to no water source.
Sketching main compositional lines on the surface was the next step. Then adding supporting ones and filling out the design followed. Once satisfied with the final layout, the tedious work began. With various sized brushes, I would carefully paint the layer three times to make sure the edges appeared clean and paint application cohesive.
My last day included final touches to the surface. Painted over splashes, removed the blue painter’s tape, and signed/titled/dated the artwork. My goal was to create a piece inspired by the history of South San Francisco while investigating its natural and manmade environments. The branch like pattern and color mimics the location and its shadows.
On the last day of painting, a gentleman in a stopped vehicle waiting for a traffic light yelled: “Thank you! Thank you! This looks so much better!” I turned around and acknowledged his compliment with a large smile. Making a community a better place, one utility box at a time is time well spent!