Friday, April 25, 2008

Central Park

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.


Anonymous said...

Love your Central Park paintings.


Joanne said...

Hi Jack,
These 2 paintings are wonderful! I love the brightness of the colors you have chosen, and how you've combined the blues and purples in the water. Really very beautiful... would love to see them in person. The real thing is always so much better than the blog photo. Lovely, lovely...

FCP said...

There are many spots that would qualify as a "small patch of wonder" in the city, aren't there? I admire your writing as much as your paintings. You did an excellent job capturing the light and the feeling of the park--lovely work!
P.S. Have you been to see the murals of Joquin Sorolla at the Hispanic Museum there? I understand it is under renovation and most of his work is in Spain for now--it is on my list of things to do.

Jack Riddle said...

Paz--Joanne--Faye, thanks for the comments. I've got some more to do in this series so stay tuned.
Joanne--when looking at the water here, you have many reflected colors to deal with. It helps to suspend belief somewhat!
Faye--have not visited the Hispanic Museum in NY, but will make it a point to next time. And thanks for the comment on the writing. I try to make it interesting.

Barbara Pask said...

Hi Jack, I really love the feeling of light in these. Thanks for stopping by my blog, I'm putting a link to your blog on mine, hope that's ok. Take care, Barb

Pat Meyer said...

Thank you for visiting my site and hope that you viewed past paintings also. Would like to exchange web site links if you are interested. Love the central park painting with so much color and energy. I lived in NY city for a few years and loved going to the park.

Frank Gardner said...

Hi Jack, These are nice fresh paintings. The first thing I looked for was how you handled the branches in the one looking into the sun (top one). I think you nailed it this time.
Good color.

Jack Riddle said...

Barb--thanks--I'm happy that you want to put a link to me on your site. I visit you quite often.
Pat--of course I'll do a link to you and you certainly may do the same. I gave your work a good look and will continue to do so.
Frank--Always appreciate your comments and took your previous comment about branches in the sunlight to heart. My son gave me a photo he took of this bridge after a big snowstorm--a whole different visual idea. I may give it a try.

christine mercer-vernon said...

jack, really liking these two paintings. they seem so different from your other good way! the colors are striking and i like that you really handled all the elements with a looser hand. as frank said, very fresh!

Jack Riddle said...

Christine--thank you and I'm glad you picked up on the looseness. I'm working at that and I must say that pulling away from "over detailing" has been quite a struggle for me. No question that the looser, the better--the more room left for interpretation.

Amy said...

Hi, Jack, both paintings are wonderful. but, the light against trees in the second one, well, i just really like it. i also enjoyed reading about your trip to n.y.c.

this is my first visit to your blog, so i am now going to work my way back & look at your paintings. amy

Jack Riddle said...

Thanks, Amy. I checked out your blog and recommend it for my visitors. I'll be interested in your further thoughts.

Ambera said...

The top park piece really has beautiful light.