Starry Foam

TheRoadsEdge Blog, Starry Night Foam

Van Gogh sat in cafes and dreamed of a Starry Night .

I sit in cafes and dream of Van Gogh.

Originally posted to FB on July 10, 2013. Click on the image above to see your responses.

Visual TREat #8.

Gray Squiggly Gravel Smile

Visual TREat squiggly

A sidewalk and an artwork mirror each other

A City sidewalk takes on the fancy-pants art world.   


Visual TREat #6.

When you are on TheRoadsEdge, remember to Look Both Ways.

What have you seen recently that takes on the art world?


Jellyfish Graffiti

TheRoadsEdge Blog Jellyfish Graffiti

I walk by this pink jellyfish often. It’s one of many pink jellyfishes sprayed on the walls in this particular spot in Carroll Gardens. I like it. It’s simple. The artist sprays just enough to create a pile of pink that then drips down and stops – just – in – time. And there you have it, the jellyfish’s tentacles.

So, one day, nearby in the Ikea parking lot, I saw this round cement barrier. It is one of many. And just like with the jellyfish graffiti sprayer, the rain piled up just enough to make the drips all along the outside. Drips that also look like tentacles. And in this case, the whole cement object is pretty much the same shape as a real jellyfish.

How beautiful is that?

  • A pink jellyfish on a wall. Its tentacles created from paint dripping.
  • In the same neighborhood, rain on a concrete ball.

Originally posted to FB on June 18, 2013.  Your response.

Visual TREat #5.


Abstract Skys

TheRoadsEdge Blog, Abstract Skys

Waiting for a train in Hudson, NY. I looked up from my book to see the sky fully lit and glowing. And it reminded me of a painting I had finished weeks earlier – of steel gray clouds passing in front of an horizon orange with the sun setting. Art, meet life. 

 Originally posted to FB on June 5, 2013. Your response.

Graffiti Bark (or, how a metal pole can resemble a tree)

Metal street pole with graffiti mimics neighboring tree trunk and bark

Any time you think:

I don’t know how to draw something;

I don’t have the skills;

I don’t have the imagination, the talent, the schooling;

Think about this “graffiti bark”.

Someone scrawled thick black lines on this metal light pole. Nothing new, right? But next to it, there’s a skinny tree. They are about the same size.


Compare the inked black squiggly lines with the tree’s chunky crevices.

Aren’t they surprisingly similar?

Doesn’t the metal post now look like a radically modern version of a tree. How fantastic is that?

Without sweating the details and worrying about what bark really looks like, we have an example of how it can be drawn.

Take away your self-imposed rules that dictate how you should see or draw something. Free up your hand and loosen your mind, let your own interpretations unfold in front of you.

You can draw.

Take the Sky (and Upend it onto the Earth)

blue sky with green earth both flattened vertically on the painting surface

Take the sky and upend it onto the earth

How do we generally look at a landscape? The land rolls out in front of us and the sky lifts up from the horizon way off in the distance.

A simple painting of that could be: the bottom half of the canvas would be green and the top half of the canvas would be blue.

Consider this on a painting: the land is fully, from the bottom to the top, covering the canvas. It’s a gorgeous green field fully covering the canvas. The painting is a green square.

And on the same painting, consider that the sky is fully, bottom to top, covering the canvas. It’s a gorgeous, ultimarine blue sky that is covering the green field.

What you have now is a blue square covering a green square.

Saying it creatively, I’ve literally placed the sky over the land and I’ve opened the sky up here and there so that the land can peek through. In this painting, the sky and the land are one.

Pavement Art (or, how a sidewalk made a great portrait)

Bust of a man etched randomly in the sidewalk

I stand in awe of the world sometimes. Here’s a crack in a granite sidewalk with the remnants of a metal signpost and various sized stones stuck into the dirt and it is creating, at least for me, an portrait of a slightly disheveled and anxious man.



Let’s just say it reminds me of a Francis Bacon painting and, well, Mr. Bacon himself.

black & white photograph of Francis Bacon

Hugging Tar (or, how an abstract line became a koala)

Pavement tar and white dividing line create koala hugging tree

This photo is of a road with a tar patch and white divider line.

Look at it again: can you see that the tar patch takes on the shapes of some sort of square-headed bear hugging a white tree trunk?

No, I’m not crazy. I’m seeing basic shapes.

We learn how to draw by looking at things. But most of the time we think we need to put a bowl of fruit or a live model in front of us to gather information.

If you wanted to learn how to draw a koala bear hugging a tree, you’d go to the source or find a picture and you’d use that as your teacher. But sometimes drawing lessons come to us. Like right now: this is a strong opportunity to grasp the basics of the koala image by looking at this tar patch. It’s true!

Lesson: Basic structure

The basic structure is: a rectangular shape (the bear) behind a skinnier and taller rectangle (the tree) with another smaller shape coming around to the front (the bear’s arm holding onto the trunk). And while we’re at it, that smaller dark triangle below the arm? Let’s call that his little foot grasping the bark and maybe the manhole cover is a sun…

Lesson: How does it work?

How does this work? The bear has to sit behind the tree. One way to do this is to make it a similar value as the background (value is dark or light) in this case that’s the dark grey. For the tree to come in front of the bear it has to be sharper, stronger or a different value and in this case, it’s white, sharp and bold.

For the bear’s arm to come around in front of the tree, it now has to be different enough from the tree so that it stands in front of it. So, it’s a strong shape and a different color. Add appropriate proportions to all of these elements, i.e., the size of bear shape to tree trunk and the size of a bear arm to its bear body, and you’ve got the basic structure of a koala hugging a tree.

Beauty: The take away

So you’re not drawing a koala bear anytime soon? Not a problem. Gather your observations and store them in your mind’s eye. You’ll be able to pull upon them when you are working on drawings that work with similar elements.

I’ll be finding more examples from the street and post them. If you find some, feel free to share.

Profile Happenstance (or, when things just line up)

friend backlit in home office with plants

Trash on the sidewalk creates bright white profile


Here’s the timeline:

Friends have an in-home office set up and because they just had a baby, all the plants from one side of the room had to be moved to the other side of the room so there was space for the baby to play. We were laughing because the dad was now engulfed by his own, very tall and healthy, houseplants. I tried taking photos of him in his jungle office but got frustrated when the flash wasn’t working.

I deleted all but one photo because I wanted a reminder to try again after I figured out the flash.

Next day, I saw a face in some trash on the ground. I thought it was so funny that I took a picture of it.

Day after that, I was going through my camera roll and right there, sitting side by side, were these two pictures. The pure chance of it all. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Jungle office photo was, in my mind, a failed attempt. But the brightly lit area in the photo turned out to be an incredible match to the profile I saw in the trash photo! I would never have seen this if they hadn’t been side by side. But there they were, lined up and waiting to be discovered.

Magic, I tell you. It’s everywhere.