Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Up on the roof in LIC

Clouds galore

"LIC Rooftop 2011"
Oil on canvas
9 x 12 inches

Every so often I head up to the roof of the studio to check out the change in the landscape in Long Island City. When I first arrived in 1980 I had a clear view to the East River and the skyscrapers of Manhattan. With all the development in the intervening years, I now see only glimpses of that view, in between the condos and rentals that now dot the waterside. If you look closely a bit of the U.N. building is visible. Work is being done on the facade now and it's interesting to watch the progress. I loved the sky the day I took this photo and hurried up to the roof with my camera. This painting is the result.

The streets radiating away from the river still retain many of the small scale homes and commercial and manufacturing buildings the neighborhood is known for. Every so often though, in the middle of a block, a new 3 or 4 story building has sprung up. The architect Frank Lloyd Wright believed a building should fit seamlessly in with the environment surrounding it. With the exception of the Guggenheim Museum, I think he followed that credo with magnificent results. Can't say that is what is happening in Long Island City these days though.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Union Square in cooler climes

Snowy thoughts on a summer's day

"Union Square Snow"
Oil on linen
14 x 11 inches

It is a hot, sultry and steamy summer's day in the baked apple so I thought I'd share this "cool" painting with you. It is a new one, recently off the easel. I was looking north from 14th Street. The iconic towers of the Met Life building and Empire State building can be seen in the distance, along with the charming 17th Street Barnes & Noble building. The dark tower on 23rd Street is new construction that has run into some trouble and is sitting vacant, its future uncertain in these uncertain times.

In the foreground is Union Square Park, decked out in inches of snowfall. Lot's of folks out enjoying the winter wonderland. I have to admit, I'd much prefer being bundled up and traipsing through a snowy park today instead of swealtering in the summer's heat and humidity. But, winter will come soon enough and then I know I'll be wishing for warmer days.

Stay cool, wherever you are.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The art of the self-portrait

Oil on canvas
6x6 inches

I've been working on small-scaled paintings this summer that are very detailed. Having finished one recently, I couldn't just jump into the next one so I took a break and headed over to one of New York's greatest treasures, the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Spending an afternoon strolling through the galleries, I revisited some of my favorite paintings. One artist's work I wanted to see more than anything was Rembrandt's self-portraits. I don't know what it is, but his work takes my breath away. There is such soul in his work, aside from his mastery of paint, brush and light. When I got back to the studio the next day, I set up a small panel and mirror on my easel and once again attempted a self-portrait.

I have used myself as a subject, as many artists have, with varying degrees of success. This painting was the result and I think I did manage to capture a likeness. I admire those who paint portraits and although I attempt them every now and again, I am by no means a portrait painter. After finishing this piece I thought it would be interesting to pull out some older self-portraits, just to see how they have changed over the years.

Oil on canvas

I think this is my favorite of the self-portraits I've done. Being fascinated with reflections I captured my reflection in a window display on Madison Avenue. I like the abstraction, yet this is me, artist with camera.

Oil on canvas

Traveling back to the 1980's, this self-portrait is done in the style of my Art Student League days. I studied with several instructors over the years, and David Leffel's class was the last one I attended. He was a student of Frank Mason, and the approach was classical, the light hitting the side of the face. Now you can see why I admire Rembrandt? He WAS the master of chiaroscuro painting, that capturing of light and dark and creating the feel of three dimensions with paint.

Oil on canvas
Early 1970's

This last painting was done in the early 1970's while in college. An early attempt at self-portrait. I've come a long way since then. I know I have digressed from this blog's main subject, so now back to painting portraits of New York!