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Given that the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence is popping up in local papers/discussions (, this is a quick sketch of my recollections of Philadelphia's celebration of the bicentennial in 1976.

I was 8 years old and clearly remember everything being painted in red, white and blue throughout all of the neighborhoods. Neighbors did it. It wasn't city workers. For months, it seemed as though everyone picked up paint brushes and painted telephone poles, bollards (small metal posts set in the pavement), sidewalks, brick walls, manhole covers, sewer covers--everything and anything.

This post, Echoes of the Bicentennial from 2012 has some terrific examples of the kind of painting I was used to seeing everywhere I walked growing up.

Beyond the actual paintings and murals...I more clearly recall the fading and chipping away of the paint over subsequent years. Into my teens, deteriorating flakes of red, white and blue paint could be seen all over...and if you knew where to look you could see even the faintest traces of it.

This panel uses 2B pencil, a Blackwing Matte pencil, and ink. Can you spot what is ink and what is pencil. A clue would be in the thinness of the line. I am still experimenting and learning how to sharpen and use pencils (of all types) with very fine points. "B" lead is softer and darker. "B" pencils are picked up better than "H" pencils by the scanner (like ink), but "B" lead, being softer, is more labor intensive to establish and maintain a very fine point. "H" lead is great for a razor sharp point...but it is often far to light to be picked up in a scan.

Of course, "HB" lead plays a role...but it usually only serves me in an early stage. I have been sketching with a combination with non-photo blue and "HB"...then going over in "2B", Blackwing, and ink.

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