|10/5/14 Platinum Carbon and other inks, Zig marker, colored pencils, Canson XL 140 lb. paper|
On a neighborhood walk this afternoon, we discovered an interesting project going on near Maple Leaf Park. Seattle Department of Transportation employees were painting wide, tan-colored areas in the street in front of the crosswalk, which is heavily used by families walking to the park. The strong-smelling fresh paint was marked off with cones.
We asked a worker what was going on, and he explained that Seattle is using this crosswalk for a pedestrian safety study based on work done in New York. When pedestrians are standing on the sidewalk trying to cross, cars have difficulty seeing them, especially when parked cars are nearby, and pedestrians have difficulty seeing traffic. The tan-colored painted areas, where parking will be prohibited, enable pedestrians to step out into the street far enough to see and be seen. The paint color is called “New York tan,” the worker informed us, after the study that is being modeled.
As soon as I heard all this, I thought it was a serendipitous and perhaps unique opportunity to do some reportage sketching of an event important to me as a Maple Leaf pedestrian! After all, it was unusual enough for workers to be painting on a Sunday afternoon; it might mean they wouldn’t be there any other day.
I pulled out my sketchbook, looked around – and was dismayed by how non-sketchogenic the scene was. A worker was still doing something, so there was that. . . and the bright yellow-orange cones were still in place, so there was that. . . but to indicate the tan-colored paint, I would have to make the rest of the pavement darker (streets are one thing I almost always leave paper-white in a sketch). And then there were all the trees in the background, and several parked cars, and the white-striped crosswalk (which would also require making the pavement darker), and big shadows from the trees on the side of the street where I was standing, and on and on. Everything about the scene struck me as non-sketchogenic and challenging.
I got this far, and then Greg brought me an iced mocha from Cloud City Coffee a few blocks up. I decided to abandon the sketch for the mocha. I don’t usually post abandoned sketches, but I still think the story is interesting. (Perhaps I have a nose for news, but my sketch reportage skills need work.)