As a student at Arsenal Technical High School, Indiana produced a number of works depicting the industrial aspects of the Indianapolis landscape. While the artist Reginald Marsh was Indiana’s guide in his scenes capturing everyday life, his images of isolated buildings and industrial landscapes show the influence of artists such as Edward Hopper and Charles Sheeler. Students at Arsenal Tech were not allowed to paint in oil, so watercolor became Indiana’s medium of choice, and he spent his weekends cycling around Indianapolis, carrying his watercolors and capturing the local environment. This untitled watercolor, one example of his industrial scenes, captures a railroad signal station just a few blocks from Arsenal Tech.
Indiana recounted in a 1963 interview with the collector Richard Brown Baker that it was not natural landscapes, which were plentiful on Arsenal Tech’s 75-acre campus, that fascinated him most, but things such as factories, railroad crossings and grain elevators, noting that “having lived on the other side of the tracks may have had something to do with my preoccupation with industrial things in that we never lived very far away from the gas works and the railroad yards.”  Indiana also recalled that one of his industrial landscapes, a watercolor of a grain elevator across the street from his grandmother’s last home in Mooresville, was featured in the Scholastic magazine and became the first painting he sold.
 Oral history interview with Robert Indiana, 1963 Sept. 12-Nov. 7, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution