Did I say that last week's kayaking was my best challenge to date? I am seriously torn here after my most recent adventure. 'Red 1' was the colour and number I was set and so I delved into the box of challenges and drew out 'Graffiti Painting Workshop', wow! I didn't know such a thing actually existed, but that's London for you. The fantastic London West Bank Gallery in Westbourne Grove, which specialises in urban, street and contemporary art, host 2 hourly graffiti workshops each Saturday. Although I am what my friends would call 'arty', my skillset is very much in 3d modelling rather than painting or drawing...and what kind of people would go to a graffiti workshop...cool urban teenagers? I was feeling out of my depth and a bit nervous. However, when I arrived, there were a small group of 5 of us, all with a slight sense of trepidation like we were about to be set an exam. However, the lovely Gabriel, a very talented graffiti artist talked us through the background to this art form and showed us some examples, quickly putting us at ease. There are actually publications all about graffiti (of course) one of which featured some of Gabriel's work. The first part of the workshop involved paper and pencil as we created our own fonts, all around our chosen word or phrase. These should be no more than 4-5 letters so I chose the word 'Life' (rather than 'Secret', too much of a challenge!). We were taught about different styles of letters, how to adapt them and make our own and use of drop shadows, 3D etc. I think you can see from below which was my effort and which was Gabriel's!
And so it was time to translate our scribbles into graffiti! We went to the outside space of the gallery, watched with interest by shoppers passing by on busy Westbourne Grove. Gabriel expertly showed us how to draw a fine outline with a spray can, adding highlights, shadows etc. Ah if only it was as easy as it looked! I have a whole new respect for graffiti artists, the control of this medium is so hard. You have to be practically on the wall with the nozzle of the can to get any sort of line rather than a spray/scatter effect. Then too close and too much pressure and it just becomes a long dripping mess of paint running down the wall. However, just under an hour later and I had something slightly resembling my sketch, realising that those pixel like details were probably on only going to be achieved by a pro. It's not too bad though, I felt quite happy with myself, although with a slight feeling of loss to walk away from it knowing that it would be sprayed over by the next eager artist. This I understand is all part of the process of graffiti art, the whole moment in time, transient nature of it. Gabriel explained how he found the whole process cathartic.
As I got the train out of Victoria the next morning I found myself fascinated by the graffiti along the railway walls and plotting making my own mark on them....hmmm...now there's a whole other #SecretLife adventure!
Denise Yeats is an events director, communications consultant, endurance athlete and avid adventurer.