02 March 2014

Lower Manhattan

Lower Manhattan - 16x20" - Oil on canvas

This painting was a real stretch for me. I have a nephew getting married in New York this spring and had thought I would do a painting of the city to commemorate the event, and to give as a their gift. I have since decided that giving a specific painting, without knowing ahead of time if they love it, is a bad idea, so I'll probably give them their choice of paintings instead.

However, before all that, I was intent on doing a city scene. I had this idea for the past year, but because I've never done anything even remotely close to this, I just kept procrastinating and procrastinating. Their wedding is coming up soon, so I decided now was the time to jump into it. I had several ideas for the painting and had many different reference photos. I finally decided to stick with a theme I'm working on integrating into my paintings and use a historic pictorialist photograph as my reference.

Lower Manhattan by John Wallace Gillies
I had to change the perspective slightly to fit the canvas size, but otherwise I had intended to stick with the photo fairly closely. I did a grisaille on a toned canvas, and then worked a little differently than normally. I would normally attack the canvas all at once, but this time I took a more piece by piece approach, starting with what I was most comfortable with (the sky) and working my way down to what I felt would be the hardest part (the street).

It took me several days to get to the street scene, and all of the sudden I decided to modernize the painting and used yellow taxi's instead of the old Model-T type jalopies from the photograph.

Overall I am happy with how this turned out, for never having done a city scene before. I was able to get more of the painterly impressionist style I am always trying to perfect into the painting in a way that pleases me; and it was kind of fun to stretch myself with a subject outside my comfort zone. I am already thinking there may be more city scenes in my future.