Friday, July 30, 2010

A bit of the Upper West Side

Brownstone with Geraniums 8x10 oil, copyright 2010

The first couple of days in New York City my friends and I stayed on the Upper West Side, not too far from Central Park.  It's a pleasant neighborhood, and from what I experienced, it seems a little more laid back than areas closer to downtown.  The architecture of the buildings fascinated me - I'd love to take an architectural history tour of the area.  The steps of this particular brownstone caught my eye on the way back to the hotel after a picnic in the Park.

This one was an interesting challenge, as I had to spend a good bit of time sketching it in before I could begin painting.  The trick was to not get too detailed, especially since it is a rather small piece.  The nearly monochromatic palette added to the difficulty of trying to sort out those details.  In reality, the pots were the same brown as the building, but I thought making them pop a bit would add interest.  They also gave me an excuse for a little of that blue I love.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Central Park arch

Eagelvale Arch, Central Park  18x24 pastel, copyright 2010

As promised, this is the first of what I hope to be several pieces inspired by my trip to New York City.  This particular stone arch caught my eye as I was walking through the Park in the late afternoon.  The simplicity of the double archway and the quality of the light and shadow were what drew me in.  Once home I did a little research to find the name of this arch and found that it is the only double arch in the entire park; the right is a bridle path, the left is a walking path.

Turns out there are many stone and metal archways and bridges throughout the Park.  I also have picture of an unnamed "rustic" bridge that I intend to paint eventually.  Had I known all of these were such prominent  features of the Park I would have taken the time to wander through it a bit more.   But now I have something to look forward to for a future visit.

As a side note, after I started this one it struck me as a bit funny that of all the things I'd seen in New York, the first one I decide to paint is the scene that seemed the most like home.

Monday, July 26, 2010

A peek at Starry Night

This was the scene in the Museum of Modern Art in front of Starry Night.  It's a wonderful painting, and I was able to get closer when the crowd was thinner, but this sort of thing is standard at popular spots in New York City.  As a former museum person, I have some issues with heavily promoting an object, then not properly accommodating the crowds it draws.  As an artist, I was rather frustrated with not being able to take the time to look that this painting deserves.  Fortunately the museum has many other wonderful pieces (including another Van Gogh) that are easier to get close to.  In fact, one can get too close, as one of the guards pointed out to me (oops).

Despite the crowds and the 90°+ heat wave, I had a great time in New York.  Inspiration was to be found everywhere.  My biggest issue now is deciding where to start.  After a few days of going through pictures, I was finally able to narrow it down.  I painted a pastel today, but I'm going to let it sit for a day or two before I decide if it's done.  I'll post it after that.

By the way, the one photo of Starry Night that I was able to get came out blurry.  Most of the rest of my pictures turned out well, though.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

New York, New York

Tomorrow morning I am headed off to the Big Apple for five days to hang out with friends, see a couple of museums and catch some scenery.  In particular I'm excited about the Piccasso exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art.  Van Gogh's Starry Night is in the collections as well.

It's been at least 15 years since my only visit, and I am expecting to find plenty of inspiration of a different sort than I find in the country.  While I love the fields and creeks that surround me every day, it is nice to  occasionally try a new challange.  A few months ago I discovered the blog of a Daily Painter named Karin Jurick who often paints New York scenes.  I admire her loose, colorful style and the way she handles light and shadow - her work has been influencing mine a bit lately.

I'll post again once I get back, hopefully with a head full of ideas.  Meanwhile, I will leave you with something I hope to see, an 18th century ship found just this week during construction at the World Trade Center site.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A pleasant surprise

Amanda and Harry 9x12 pastel, copyright 2010

As I mentioned in earlier post, one unexpected but happy event that occurred this summer was the early arrival of my nephew.  He is small of course, but doing quite well, and has a beautiful face with big blue eyes and lots of blonde hair.  The first time I went to see him he was curled up in a ball on his stomach, and I didn't get a good look.  The second time my sister-in-law held him during a feeding, and he opened those eyes for me.  He is going to be a charmer!

This pastel was based on a picture I took of the two of them.   It was quite the challenge, as I have not attempted a portrait of someone I know before, and I've never tried a baby, let alone a newborn preemie.  I think it turned out pretty well - at least I've been told that their faces are recognizable, which is a good thing with portraits.

Monday, July 5, 2010

4th of July

After a frantic two weeks of art camp, vacation, a quick visit with friends, a family gathering, and unexpectedly early arrival of my nephew, the 4th seemed like the perfect day to relax.  I had intended to paint a bit, but never quite got to it.

My husband and our daughter decided to take our inflatable kayak for a short trip down Twin Creek.  When their arrival time approached, I walked to the creek to help them disembark.  While I sat waiting on the roots of a sycamore leaning over the water it occurred to me that it would be a good spot for a plein air pastel, with plenty of bright light, deep shadows and interesting reflections.  But then a kingfisher came cruising downstream with minnows in its beak, and swallowtail butterflies flitted about searching for the last of the flox, and damselflies hunted mosquitoes around the still pools.  When a bullfrog hopped out of the water and sat on the bank at my feet, I decided that sometimes it's best to just sit and look and appreciate without trying to capture it all on canvas and paper.

Maybe I'll paint tomorrow.