Lesson 5 - Using photos of sidewalk cracks

Using Sidewalk Cracks

© Carol Nelson Mixed Media Art

Reference Photos

I have included several reference photos of sidewalk cracks that I have taken. You may want to go searching for photos of your own. It's fun to see what crack patterns you can find near restaurants, stores, and in older neighborhoods.

Look for a defined crack pattern with a variety of shapes and sizes in it. Homogeneous patterns, where all the sections are similar in size and shape, are not good. Also, try to avoid straight lines such as the stress divisions deliberately put into concrete.

Areas where the concrete has disintegrated into gravel, sometimes make good locations for a focal point clay piece surrounded by texture materials like shells, pebbles, etc.


Design and Composition

© Carol Nelson Mixed Media Art

Choosing your design

Choosing a good design is very important to the success of your painting. Using a small paper mat to isolate a good design in the photo is a great tool. Look for an area where the crack lines in your photo converge.

Put the converging lines in the focal area - remember the rule of thirds (tic-tac-toe pattern). A good design will have large areas where not much is going on - see below example. These quiet areas in a painting automatically draw the eye to the focal point.

How many major rock shapes did I draw in the painting below (do not count the small pebbles and shells or the clay embellishment)? About 9. Four across the top. One to the right of the clay piece. Four across the bottom. Notice that huge quiet space (one rock) in the lower right - it takes up about a third of the painting!

What is the design flaw in this painting? It's the location of the focal point. It's a little too centrally located. It would have been better if it were slightly more to the left. Hey, I mess up sometimes too.

I can often find SEVERAL good design compositions in nearly every photo. Do not be a slave to the photo, however. Most of the time I tell students to SIMPLIFY.

Students often draw too many "rocks". Remember these rocks have to be textured with various texture compounds. If you have too many small rocks together, it is nearly impossible to texture them individually. SIMPLIFY. Combine small rocks into one larger rock.


Also, remember that you are drawing rocks. Sharp points or curved projections tend to break off from the mass of the rock or boulder.

Complete and Continue