Only Rain Down the Drain

This summer I had the opportunity to paint four storm drains across Columbia, South Carolina for a great initiative with One Columbia, Richland County, and Columbia Water.

I came across the call for artists on the Congaree River Keeper Facebook page put out by One Columbia seeking artists to submit their portfolios for consideration. I made it to the second round, and I was asked to complete a proposal including an original concept for painting the storm drains. My design was inspired by South Carolina rivers, 1960s band posters, art nouveau, and children’s book illustration.

My design was selected, and I began painting storm drains in July!

Each drain took an average of nine hours stretched out over four weekends (one weekend for each drain). My supplies included an all purpose exterior primer, Golden Fluid Acrylics, Amsterdam acrylic pens, and Golden MSA varnish in a satin finish. There were many other supplies such as rags, paint brushes, bug spray, Talenti containers filled with water for cleaning my brushes, tools, and more. My process was to clean the site with a broom, sketch my design with chalk, prime, draw in details, paint, and varnish.

This was an incredible opportunity to add to the growing public art in Columbia, and the perfect way to combine two loves: art and environmentalism (aka my love for furry creatures that swim in our rivers!). The hopeful outcome is to create something beautiful and fun that inspires the public to think about the role storm drains play in their community. What goes down them enters our rivers and waterways impacting the flora and fauna that live in them, and eventually us.

The four storm drain locations:

  1. Richland Public Library Cooper Branch on Trenholm Road.
  2. Richland Public Library North Main Branch on North Main Street.
  3. 91 Hunters Pond Road between the community pool and tennis courts.
  4. Airport Blvd. in the Rosewood neighborhood.
Cooper Branch
North Main Branch
The Summit

The project made it onto Columbia’s local news station WLTX! The article and video can be viewed here.

Happy last days of summer,

Lady Dame