Traffic Box Art – A mural in the Making

Today is a great day–among other awesome things that surely happened,  I also FINISHED* THE TRAFFIC BOX PROJECT!

A mere six weeks after announcing I got the commission for the 2018 traffic box, it’s now at the corner of Seventh and Cherry for your viewing pleasure.

(*disclaimer: I still need to add the top coat, so please do not vandalize it just yet.)

Also, because I never showed you, here is the design template I submitted to the Office of Cultural Affairs to apply for the commission:

Traffic Box Requested Revisions copy.jpg

To tell you the truth, I was a little nervous about painting on-stage like this.

For starters, the painting process doesn’t look like much of anything in the early stages, just a bunch of blobby colors. It weighed on me that the box looked like such a mess the first couple of days.

I also expected to feel self-concious about painting in the open, but actually it was quiet most of the time, because I painted early in the day before the corner started to sizzle in the sun. Plus, everyone that passed was really supportive, so it turned out to be really encouraging!

In case you’re an artist or are wondering what this next paragraph says:

The template was created digitally using Corel Painter 2018 on a Wacom graphic tablet.

The base coat was Zinsser’s Bullseye 1-2-3 primer (2 coats) then artist acrylic paint (various brands, but mostly Liquitex) and top coat is (will be) Aqua-Shield (UV protectant and Anti-graffiti top coat.) The city provided the base and top coats, all other supplies were my choice and expense. The project allowed for commission plus up to $500 in supplies.

Ok, now, all asides aside, here are some pictures from the process, which started on May 27, 2018:

Day 1: Primed the box. Twice. (Thanks to The Diner’s “Stretch” for making the waiting time between applications full of chili-egg-hashbrowny goodness.)

Primed Box


Day 2: Art-ing Commenced! It looked crazy here, but this was my base for the underpainting. I choose to believe this green gave depth to future layers.


Day 3: A train appears. Compared to day 1, this felt like HUGE progress.


Day 4: I came a LONG way this day. Details started to emerge all the way around. The front of the train got a lot fancier, and the landscape too.


Day 5: The train and rocks were the focus most of this day. To make the whole composition more cohesive, I used touches of the same colors I mixed for the rocks in shadows and details all the way around. It’s more time/effort efficient this way too.

Day 5 best cornerDay 5 sideDay 5 back corner


Day 6: And more train/rock work…


Day 7: After focusing on the train for a few days, it was the trees’ and grasses’ turn.


Day 8: Sparkle and finishing touches added… and The End! 

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Just one last time: before and after:

A humungous thank you to the City of Columbia for inviting me to paint on public property, and for being so pleasant and awesome to work for.

If any of you want to do this in the future, keep an eye on the Cultural Affairs website each January/February to see when they post the call for artists. It is fun, pays well, and is an all around fantastic experience.

If you have questions, or comments, post them! Or, if you prefer, email me at

Thanks for joining me on this adventure!


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