Friday, April 25, 2008
Stone Bridge: Central Park
12" X 9" Oil on Masonite
Central Park Pastorale
14" X 11" Oil on Masonite
I mentioned earlier that I had visited my son and his wife in NYC, now about three weeks ago. They live on the upper west side in an area that borders on Spanish Harlem. Central park--the northwest quadrant--is two short blocks to the east. They have spent many a weekend morning or afternoon enjoying the many benefits that the park offers.
As a kid growing up in the NYC area, the big attraction for me in the Park was the zoo which is still there but in no way equal to the famous Bronx Zoo and other zoos such as San Diego in the rest of the U.S. The rest of the park was a bit forbiding and it had a bad rep for hoodlums and derelicts. That is all different now. It is a thing of beauty from top to bottom and within its square mile or so are some wonderful natural sites as well as recreational attractions. On the great lawn in the park one time, 500,000 of Luciano Pavoratti's best friends heard him sing in one of the many free concerts offered during summertime evenings. Other performers have experienced likewise. But it's the natural beauty of Central park that overwhelms.
On a beautiful sunlit Saturday morning I took a stroll with son Tom and my wife Bonnie. Of course I had my artist's eye working, and my camera and right brain. I spied at least a dozen potential paintings and I show here a couple of sketches that I think are keepers. I have some more, too, but I'll save those for the larger paintings I plan to extend them to.
The stone bridge had the light coming from the front right. I liked the backlit effect and the illuminated scene revealed through the bridge arch. Shooting into the light, my camera saw the setting as really dark (I must get a better camera!), but I retained a good memory of the image. I loved the illumination of the branches in the foreground and the colors in the brook. Back home I tried to paint this as if it were plein air, doing about a 30 minute sketch. I was thinking I'd save the sketch for reference in a larger piece, but it looked pretty good to me, so I added the finishing touches and made it THE image of the scene I wanted.
Likewise "Central Park Pastorale." Many textures and layers of objects all backed up by the buildings behind on Central Park West, the bordering street. Bonnie exclaimed delight upon seeing the sketch (not always the case with my work), so that was good enough for me. It became a keeper too.
I'll tell you one other thing about painting Central Park scenes--you get a lot of experience in painting different things--trees, water, buildings, ground textures, flowers and so on. Also this was still early spring so the sky was "open," not closed by the rich foliage canopy of summer. Thus, you get a lot of bright light to work with.
I should also report that if you walk across the park from where Tom and Meg live, you can end up at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. All you have to do is veer south a bit.
If you go to NYC, get all the city offers, much of which is in the small patch of wonder.