Yesterday morning I went to Gantry Plaza State Park to paint, by the East River Ferry across from the United Nations Building. Unfortunately, when I was setting up, I realized that I dropped a nut off the easel leg somewhere in the subway, so I tried to make do with the railing which gave the easel a little support. Shortly after I blocked in large chunks of color, I saw dark clouds came from behind the Queens Bridge. Immediately it got windy. I realized I could not go on any more. Not just because it was hard to paint or hold my palette which I learned my lesson and used clips to hold it to the easel. The problem was the easel was falling apart. Therefore, I had to call it a day.
However, there was an interlude during painting. A young girl wearing wedding gown and her groom to be came to the Park with a group of camera crew to shoot wedding pictures. Nice, with the whole Manhattan behind them as background, I thought to myself. Then the bride suddenly came over to ask me, "Do you mind?" I thought she was asking me to move my site, so I said no because I had started my painting and could not change my view. The camera man quickly cut in and explained, "They'd like to use you as part of the natural environmental background." "Of course not," I responded, "if they don't mind the fact this make-shift best man is not very presentable." Everyone laughed. Therefore, the young couple began to kiss each other behind me as a pose for the camera. Whether it was a kind of humor that lovers caressed like crazy in contrast of my indifference while concentrating only on my painting, I don't know. One thing is for sure. I guess they could have survived the cold of Antarctic in this moment of their life, even dressed like they were.
On my way home fruitlessly, I drew a few sketches on subway. One of them happened to be a female homeless, which reminded me of Phi Collins' "Another Day in Paradise." If you don't remember the song, I attached the youtube link below. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YiUQE5bJKFU
When I passed by the Grand Central Station, I was so impressed by the architecture in the short-lived winter afternoon sun which came through the crack of a side street. It had the effect of theatrical stage. the blurred image of the lit part was also reflected in the high-rise mirror-like side. Fascinating!
It was warmer today. So I pulled my painting kit walking toward a busy shopping street near where I lived. I found the spot a few days ago. However, when I got there this morning, the view, mainly the lighting, was not as good as what I saw in the afternoon several days ago. Therefore, I decided to paint something else for now. I turned into Audley St. and there loomed the huge water tank on top of the hill. With the slope, it looked good, so I decided to paint it in the morning sun. Shortly after I began, I saw two or three guys waving to me smilingly across from the street near the tank. They came over and told me that they were going to tear down this tank, one of the oldest in the region, if not in New York City. Obviously they were from the water company. I responded with a smile, "Hope not today." They said not today. I said, "Then, it seems I caught it in my painting just in time." They nodded yes.
We went to Grand Central Terminal Holiday Market to watch the excitement. Mainly I did some sketches at the Station and on my way to and back from there.
Two Passengers on Subway: The Short Man Standing and the Large Lady Sitting
(Interestingly, when the seat next to me was vacant, the short guy came over to sit by my side. I was done with him and began to draw the lady. What I was doing piqued his curiosity, so he rubber-necked over to see what the hell I was doing. Upon seeing it, he pointed his finger at his image on the paper, saying, "This is me, right?" Everyone nearby burst out laughing.)
Passengers on Subway
Two Men in the Hall of Grand Central Terminal
A Couple of College Students Hanging Around a Huge Square Column at GCT
Waiting for the Train at GCT
Two Female Passengers Sitting at a Right Angle with Me One After Another on Subway
Yesterday morning, after breakfast, remembering the weather forecast said it would not snow till noon, I hurried out of the building with my painting kit, not bothering to look out f the window. As I opened the door, icy wind rushed in and I immediately felt snowflakes melting on my face and eye glasses. Only then did I realize that the snow came earlier than the weatherman had estimated. I had to back in and closed the door. I was excited and went home to put away the painting kit. I took an umbrella and charged into the snow. I walked in snow for about an hour. The world suddenly turned into a black-white picture except for the colors of people's umbrellas and their overcoats. Quite a few people were taking pictures in the park. I was looking around to see if I could find a place where I was able to paint and could also be sheltered from the snow. I didn't have the luck but enjoyed the walk in snow.
This morning, snow began to melt fast as the sun rose. Everything looked different and the shadows were so blue with the sunlight reflected from snow. I didn't want to miss what I saw so I made this painting. My original painting is not as yellow as it looks here. I regret I didn't take the picture of the painting in daylight instead of the light from my lamp. Maybe I am going to redo it tomorrow.
See the big difference. The second picture was taken in daylight.
The rain finally stopped today and I didn't have to simply stay home watching out of the window. So, after lunch, I quickly pulled my painting kit and walked toward the park. I didn't have plans in my mind but just search for paintable views as I was walking. I knew I must find something to paint, or I would not have enough time to finish the painting given the short daytime in New York. I was about to leave the path and think of going to paint the street when I noticed the winding trail cutting through the woods and the long empty green garden bench on the roadside stood out in contrast with the orange brown fallen leaves but also blended well with the whole atmosphere. Good thing there were many benches along the trail. Therefore, I made my decision and lost no time setting up to paint. I completed it in not quite two hours before it began powdering snow.
It has been raining in New York since yesterday and I also got a New York cold, so what I could do was to paint from my window. I also consider it plein air even though there was a layer of glass between me and the scene. The winter day in New York is really short. It starts to get dark at 4 PM. By 4:30 PM it was pitch dark. I did it really fast shortly after lunch. Across from where I live is Forest Gardens which has many old houses.
Today is my lucky day. I did a painting in the morning. In the afternoon, my wife suggested we go to the Bryant Park to watch the Christmas excitement, so we took F train. On subway, all the way to 42nd St., there was no one coming between the three guys facing me and myself. They didn't get off the train before our destination, either. Therefore, I could not only draw all of them, but was also able to do a little toning. The other two sketches are what I did at the Park when my wife was shopping.
Again this morning I went to the Forest Park. The painting was made on a spot on another overhead pass inside the Park. It was a little foggy in the morning and later bit by bit the sun pierced through the haziness.
This morning I put my painting kit on a shopping cart and walked pulling it to the Forest Park. I like the park because everything is in its natural state but nature seems ridiculously so close to the hustle and bustle of the metropolitan city of New York, only a few steps away from its sidewalk. The park is huge. The part I painted is called Overlook, which is literally raised way higher above the street. The villa-like mansion and the lawn in background of the painting are actually across from the street named Park Lane. Since Overlook is right on the hilltop, from where I stood, you don't see the street and its traffic. It took me two hours to do the painting. I got there around 8:30 AM, not long after the daybreak in New York. Before I began, I estimated what would look different when the sun was higher up in the sky, especially the golden brown fallen oak leaves, and I prepared myself to paint into the effect, which was unusual with me. Most of the times I did the opposite, so I am glad I had that experience.
I went to see an old fiend of mine in New York today. I drew quite a few sketches on the subway. I selected four of them to share with you on the blog. Of course, there are some uncompleted ones. Many a time when new passengers boarded the subway and happened to stand between me and my subject or my subject suddenly stood up to get off the subway before I could finish the drawing. For instance, if you turn the third sketch posted above 90 degrees clockwise, you'll see an unfinished figure of a lady holding a pole. As a matter of fact she was part of what I had planned to draw: the lady, her husband and their child in a stroller. Unfortunately, a guy with a backpack who just boarded the subway came in between. Therefore, I turned my sketch book back to vertical position and drew him instead from the back.
The temperature is getting warmer. Even though my arm has not fully recovered, I don't want to wait any more. I plan to paint the Forest Park tomorrow.
This is the shortest-time plein air painting I have ever made. Altogether it took barely two hours, including setup. It is the view from my window. I didn't turn on lights lest the colors in the scene look different. I started at 2 PM yesterday. By 4 PM I was utterly unable to discriminate between colors. Only the difference in value could I tell. I blocked in large chunks of color before I handle details. The cars didn't look much different in color as the dusk was falling. I simply did it like slicing a loaf of bread and then touched here and there to show different planes. The scene appears like a forking road, but actually not. On the slope, the left-hand road comes down from Forest Park while right-side road is Union Turnpike, coming uphill. I had to stop painting when it was totally dark inside.
Yesterday at the airport, I grabbed three sketches before I boarded the plane. Unfortunately, I had my right-side shoulder tendon torn when I moved my luggage. I don't know it was because of my age or because I didn't do it the right way. Anyway, today, I have difficulty lifting or moving my right arm the way I want to. Besides, it is painful if I strain the arm muscles. Therefore, I am unable to hold my arm in a painting position. I don't know how long it will stay like that. Hope it won't be too long. It comforts me a little to realize it is the coldest and windiest day of the year today. The temperature has dropped to 20s and the wind was so strong that it is not possible to paint outside. I went out this morning and did some grocery shopping and felt not quite used to the biting cold of New York, especially coming right from Florida where people could comfortably open all their windows and doors when they get up in the morning. Hopefully, the weather will not stay as severe as it is for long and my arm can allow me to paint again.