Friday, April 01, 2016


Landscape is an enormously appealing and poplar genre of painting. Who doesn't love western mountain vistas or waves breaking on a beach, or perhaps even pastures and cattle? But painters, like writers, do better work when the subject is a familiar one. My own favorite kind of landscape is cityscapes--rooftops, crowded streets, cafes brimming with life--which among many other reasons attract me with their regularity of shapes, the play of light and shade, signs, figures in action, night streets, and other features. There is always an implied narrative in cityscapes, seems to me, even if the artist doesn't try to tell a story. Why are the streets empty? Or why are they so crowded?

Streets and people of places as diverse as Manhattan, Chicago, Omaha, and Des Moines interest me. I particularly enjoy the challenge of late Victorian architecture, with its towers and turrets and gingerbread. .

Here's a small selection of New York cityscapes.

"Paint Palace," 2015. 14x11 on panel sold
The first one is "Paint Palace," a view of the Pearl Paint store in Manhattan that closed not long ago. I love the red and white colors and the mismatching facade. For a long time, Pearl Paint was one of my "go to" dealers for all kinds of  art materials, as it was for many. In particular, this composition was also about the antique-looking lamp post superimposed on the facade.

"Novelties," 2014, 20x24, oil on canvas, sold
The next is a view of the old Gordon's Novelties, a shop that was in business in New York for many years. This particular shop was not far from the Flatiron Building in lower Manhattan. Some years back the novelty shop closed and eventually the structures were sand-blasted back to their original bricks and remodeled. But the store was an electric blue color for a long long while.

"False Dawn, Union Square," 2014, 10x16, oil on panel, available
Sometimes it's not the structure but the light, or the time of day or year that attracts me to a particular
subject. This is a picture of the subway station in Union Square, just before the sun broke through in the morning--the false dawn. If you don't know New York the thing looks like a flying saucer, or maybe a food stand. Certainly doesn't look like a subway entrance, but below Union Square (as in much of the city) there is an enormous subway station that connects several parts of the city.

"Invictus," 2013, 10x8, oil on panel sold

The Chrysler Building in winter twilight. Even though the spire has become an Art Deco icon and though it's been painted literally tens of thousands of times, this particular view struck me as a strong representative image of New York, especially after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center at the turn of the century--unconquered and continuing as the intellectual and business center of the world. For that reason I called it "Invictus," or unconquered, in Latin.

"Eat," 2009, 24x18, oil on panel   available
Finally, here is a view into Times Square from a side street. "Eat" was difficult because I wanted to indicate the brightness of artificial light--the sort of glow in the air--in that place at night. This is partly based on photo references but also on considerable personal observation.
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