Monday, June 9, 2008

Central Park Revisited

Top: Stone Bridge in Winter
Oil on Canvas 20" X 16"

Bottom: Sunday in the Park
Oil on Canvas 20" X 16"

I hinted in my last blog that the painting "The Road to Salzburg" was to be my farewell to winter. Well, it wasn't. It's probably because those of us in Northern New England are simply obsessed with winter and can't let it go. I'm not going to speculate though because winter does give me some decent painting opportunities.
"Stone Bridge in Winter" came to me by way of my son. In my blog of 5/28 I told of our trip to New York and spending some time in Central Park. My son Tom and his wife live on 104th St., a couple of short blocks from the park and spend a lot of time there. He's also a pretty good photographer and when he saw the paintings that resulted from our visit to the park, he sent me some of his photos. I picked the one of the stone bridge as it is a subject I really liked the first time and this was a chance to do it in a new way. In his photo, the bridge was centered, but I moved it a bit to the left to get more out of the colors and light in the snow on the right. Of course I had to change the perspective a bit. His camera saw a lot of blue (which I find most digital cameras do without adjustment) so I toned it down a bit, but left the blue in the shadow areas, particular around the base of the bridge. I minimized the background detail to keep the focus on the subject. I like the way it turned out and learned more about how a painter can use a photo creatively. Somebody who knows more about using photos in a painting than I do (are you listening Frank Gardner?), ought to deal with this as a blog subject.
"Sunday in the Park" uses this often photographed bridge in the park-the name escapes me--in an impressionist mode, irresitably. I put an extra bit of arch in the bridge, which has really a much smoother arc, because there is a Japanese bridge here in a local park that I really admire that has such an arch, almost like a hovering bird. I also put just one boat in the picture. There were several in the photo. That's my interest in solitary things popping up again. I resisted the temptation to show more backgound detail and hyped the reflections in the water--particularly the low lying willow, and the colors. I also messed with the sky, as I imagine Monet or one of my other impressionist pals would have done. Again--using a photograph creatively, I hope.
All in need is a thumbs up from Tom and I'll be OK. Maybe even a couple of more ideas...


christine mercer-vernon said...

hi jack, these are two lovely, seasonally contrasting paintings...although there are many wonderful things i am really enjoying your treatment of trees, you have interesting and stylized treatment of the branches. very unique to your paintings (i have a thing for trees) :).

the colors in the spring painting are out of this world. there is a dreamy quality in this painting i've not noticed in your paintings's wonderful!

as for photos...i use them merely for a record of the moment and use them mostly for drawing reference and values, although i change the values some too...otherwise i like to let the colors come to me as i remember the inspiration. i like that you played with the colors some. i think we all use photos differently, you should use them as they serve your inspiration. :)

Amy Sullivan said...

Really wonderful paintings Jack. Working with your sons photo, I love that.
I clicked to get a closer look, and I love the colors in both. I especially
like the shadows from the trees in the winter painting. But, the way you worked the water in the spring painting, also very nice.
It is fun to see two such different paintings together.Much to to take in. Amy

Ambera said...

I like the pair above..freezing cold and beautifully warm. Both are well done!

Jack Riddle said...

Christine--thanks for your helpful comments re photos. Pretty much what I think, too. I'm pleased you noticed the tree branches. It took me a while to reach that point in doing them--following the Carlson dictum that you don't need to show them all, only a few. That also extends to leaves.
Amy--yes, it's nice to have the family involved--they all have paintings of mine, too. And they all support me at shows. You and Christine both picked up on the contrasting seasons. I forgot to mention that that was one of the factors in choosing these particular photos--the totally different feel, palette, etc.
Thanks for the nice comments, too.

Jack Riddle said...

Ambera--just got back from visiting your blog. I love your cloud series and can learn something from them. So, I value your nice comments. Thanks, Jack

Frank Gardner said...

Hi Jack, this is a nice pair. I like the stark contrast in value in the first one.
The branches hanging down in the second really give me a sense of depth. Nice job balancing everything. The colors really look like spring.

I'll have to try and think up a few lines on using photos. There are so many ways to approach that one.

BTW, I found a really nice palette knife just like the one I broke and with the same flex, not soft like some that I have that "looked" like it but do not have the same feel.
I'll drop you an email tomorrow with the name. It is tucked away in my box right now.

Jack Riddle said...

Frank--thanks for the thoughts and I look forward to hearing your ideas on using photos. As for the palette knife, I really would appreciate that. I did find one that was better than what I had, but I'm still on the lookout for a duplicate of what you had (have).

Frank Gardner said...

I'll just go ahead and post it here Jack if you don't mind. It is a CHE SON #826 made in Italy.
After using it I went back and bought two more.

crioux1 said...

Good Job Grandpa!


Jack Riddle said...

Frank--thanks much. I'll chase it down.

Barbara Pask said...

Wow Jack, These are both wonderful and very well done. I agree with you Frank should do a few blogs on painting from photos. He's a great teacher. Barb

rob ijbema said...

what a nice surprise to see a snowscape,so fresh and cool
i like the soft dreamy spring one too
i think you edited the photo well!

Jack Riddle said...

Barb--Frank sent me an email saying that he has posted some comments of photos. I'm going to check it out now.

Rob--the bridge piece has a palette that reminds me a bit of a couple of your latest posts. I must confess "dreamy" is what I was going for--sort of like the music of your Brit composer, Delius.

FCP said...

Really nice, Jack. I especially like the shadows in the snow.

Alina Chau said...


Jack Riddle said...

Faye--thanks for the praise. I recommend to my readers that they visit your blog for your beautiful flower series.
Alina--thanks for visiting!

Anonymous said...

I really like both paintings, especially the second one, Sunday in the Park. I also like how you made your own adjustments in creating the painting. It's fascinating for me to read about the creative process and how you arrived at the end product.

So did Tom give you the thumbs up? Add mine to his. ;-)