Belgrade, SRB (2021)
Mural painted in an abandoned factory complex in Belgrade, Serbia.
For most of 2021, I’ve been working more in my studio and less outdoors or in public. This, while having certain advantages, was generally more isolating than anything. In June, I met up with a friend who wanted to try painting murals, and we went to an old abandoned factory near where I live to have a bit of fun. The location is one that he and I have both been to over the past few years and it’s one of my favorites in the city. Long story short, he didn’t end up painting due to having other responsibilities that took precedent, but I did :).

The woman in the painting was someone that I photographed when I first came to Belgrade in 2016. Her photo went unnoticed for a few years as I just didn’t know what the best place was. Or perhaps I knew, and I just hadn’t come across it yet? Either way, the day that he and I went into the factory with our cameras to scout out interesting rooms and walls, I finally found her a home. The new caveat? I didn’t want to use acrylic paint like I usually do, but to try something else as practice for an upcoming project in late-August 2021. So I went to the local graffiti shop and picked up two paint markers. One 15mm chisel tip, and one 10mm round tip. The paint is a highly viscous water-based acrylic and I figured (hoped) that it would allow me to paint as I draw with pens. I had heard a lot of people say that they worked great for graffiti on super smooth surfaces, but not much feedback for doing what I wanted. So I took a risk and tried.

In the end, I used the markers for everything but the crosshatched shadow. For that, I used a cheap paint brush and some slightly diluted external latex-acrylic paint, just to save the tips from the wear. It took two trips to finish. The first day was spent mostly scouting things to stand on with only around an hour and a half of daylight (I found the old plastic drum found in the photo as well as the old door/window frame that worked as a ladder), and the second day was just painting in the afternoon when the lighting was best and the room was relatively cool, temperature-wise. I love how well she interacts with the space and how much presence the imagery has when you walk into the room. I don’t know where the woman is today, but hopefully she looks as relaxed as she was the first day that I saw her. Maybe she’ll somehow hear about her portrait? For me, it was just a lot of fun and so so so motivating to get out and just paint and I hope that somehow that energy is passed on through the painting.

Original Concept Sketch

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