Painting the town - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Painting the town

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - You may not recognize her name, but you've surely seen Julie Anderson's handiwork.

"This is a utility box. I've done three other ones, two in Mission Beach and one here in Point Loma," she said.

Public art has not always been her palate.

"Actually I was a teacher. I taught art in schools," she said.

But today, the medium of metal has its challenges.

"I think one of the most difficult things is when you're used to putting on basic flat with watercolors and this is completely vertical," she said.

On these projects, Julie uses more expensive sign paint.

"The paint is very thick and it dries quickly, so it's a little bit… so you have to kind of work on the side the sun's not on," she said.

Prepping commissioned public art is a painstaking process.

"You do a small sketch, get the drawing blown up to full size, then I put the graphite on the back of it where the lines are, tape it on the box and trace it through," Julie explained.

Julie spends about three to four hours a day on her current project, leaning on the concrete and dirt, barely out of the gutter.

"I could tell you a funny story, an anecdote about the other day. I was kind of spread out on the ground painting like this and a woman came by and thought I'd fallen so she stopped and said, "Oh, are you alright?'" Julie said.

This public artist doesn't mind getting down and dirty. She's proud of her work.

"I always look forward to showing my grandchildren the boxes that I've done, and I tell my friends. I always tell them where the box is located, so they can drive by and see it," she said.

And there's a way to tell if your neighborhood utility box is a Julie Anderson original -- she signs her work.

"I'm not sure we're supposed to, but I do," she said.

And if Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel on his back, Julie Anderson doesn't mind painting the utility box on her side.

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