Monday, December 31, 2018

Golden Gowanus

One doesn't usually associate the Gowanus Canal, seen here from the Carroll Street bridge in Brooklyn, with the Venetian paintings of Turner, but the golden glow on the buildings and the water from the late afternoon winter sun does it for me.  Unfortunately the only boat in the canal is a sunken wreck on the left, not a gondola, while parked buses line up on the right.   6x8 oil on panel.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Earlier This Year

A 9x12 oil on panel painting that I did earlier this year at the Paint Factory in Gloucester, MA.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

The Late Afternoon Sun

A composition that I have used previously: a curtailed, blocked view of a street corner that suggests more space around the corner.   The cars always seem to have distinct personalities, more so since they are larger than just the cyphers that we would use to indicate people.  Of course, this would be a dull view without the late afternoon sun.  In the city a site can change dramatically from hour to hour, day to day, season to season, year to year.  The actual site is the corner of St. Marks and Classon Avenue in Brooklyn. 6x8 oil on panel.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

It Accumulates

A prominent artist recently offered a dozen or so paintings at discounted prices because he wanted to clean out his studio in preparation for the new year.   Isn't this the ideal for a painter:  very few or no paintings left, so that you have to make more?   The reality for most artists is having tons of artwork all over the place.  Artists don't stop making it, but if you're moving it at a slower rate, it accumulates.

This small Brooklyn is different than the previous ones because it doesn't pull your vision into the far recesses.  The wall cuts it off.  This muddy parking lot is found on Dean Street near Grand Avenue. 6x8 oil on panel.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Not Sure

Why did I make this small Brooklyn?  The splash of sunlight across the sidewalk, most of which is absorbed by the car.  The jumble of stuff that I can only suggest with another jumble of paint.  The wonderment that just looking down a sidewalk can make happen.  Applying paint to make something that looks like something.   Not sure.  6x8 oil on panel.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Small Bee Hill

It's not a small Brooklyn painting, but at least it's a small painting: a view down Bee Hill Road in Williamstown, MA.  5x7 oil on panel.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Painting Brooklyns and Delacroix

Painting can be an obsession.  Did you ever notice that painters paint … all the time?  Painting small Brooklyns is my latest painting obsession.  This is a view on Franklin Avenue towards Atlantic Avenue.  This is a busy intersection in terms of foot-traffic because there's a subway station across the street where you can get the train to Manhattan.  I took it recently to see the Delacroix show at the Met.  

Here's a quote from Delacroix's Journal for May 5, 1852 (Walter Pach translation):

"One should lay in one's picture so that it [h]as the look of representing the scene on a gray day, without sun, without clear-cut shadows.  Speaking radically, there are neither lights nor shades.  There is a color mass for each object, having different reflections on all sides.  Let us suppose that, in this scene, in the open air and under gray light, a ray from the sun suddenly illumines the objects: you will have lights and shades as they are understood, but they are pure accidents.  The deeper truth of this, singular as it may seem, contains the whole comprehension of color in painting.  How strange it is that this truth has been understood by only a very small number of great painters, even among those who are regarded as colorists."

If I understand this correctly (which I may not), I am reminded of the oft-heard phrase: paint shapes of color, not things.  The things, even "lights and shades,"  will take care of themselves. My French original identifies this passage as defining the "doctrine of impressionism."

6x8 oil on panel.  

Sunday, December 16, 2018

A Grand Avenue

What a grand avenue Grand Avenue is, here near Prospect Place.  Actually it's quite typical of streets in Brooklyn, but a late afternoon sun makes any street a wonderful place.   I was amused that the new rectangle of sidewalk, at the bottom of the painting, doesn't match the sections that have been there much longer, like a new patch on an old pair of dungarees.  6x8 oil on panel.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Upraised Arms

Taking a break from Brooklyn for a day: here's a small painting of a tree that I pass frequently on my walks on a country road.   Half of the tree has been sheared away to accommodate the power lines, which explains its upraised-arms appearance.  5x7 oil on panel.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Shortchanged in Brooklyn

The corner of Bergen Street and Washington Avenue has a beautiful building on the corner.  When seen from the front, it's not obvious that it's triangular-shaped.  Here's the back view showing how the building got shortchanged by being on a corner where the streets aren't perpendicular to each other.  The late afternoon December sun loves that empty surface.  6x8 oil on panel.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

But On Sidewalks.

When I walk through the American Museum of Natural History and see all the totem poles, I realize that I have only the vaguest idea of what they mean.  When I walk on Washington Avenue in Brooklyn, I know what most of those man-made vertical things placed on or coming out of the ground mean, but that doesn't make them any less amazing.  Some flash, others spout water, a few move, and a few more just sit there.  Most are colorful with unusual shapes.  You are not going to encounter them in the woods but on sidewalks.   Washington Avenue at Dean Street.  6x8 oil on panel.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Totem Poles

In the city of Brooklyn, one doesn't have to look far for fascinating views.  The buildings, which aren't too high, cast shadows and thereby accentuate the light.  The streets are full of totem poles, full of signification, which some people pay attention to, while others do not.  The same corner will appear drastically different depending upon the time of day and the extent of sunlight.   This painting represents Classon Avenue at Bergen Street.  6x8 oil on panel.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Sunlight on Bergen Street

A 6x8 oil on panel painting of sunlight on Bergen Street, between Classon and Franklin Avenues, in Brooklyn.  

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

A Tenth of Third Avenue

This is the tenth small Brooklyn painting.  I'm not sure how many I will paint, but they provide an opportunity to try things I might shy away from on a larger scale.  The view is Third Avenue under construction.  6x8 oil on panel.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Surreal Brooklyn Sidewalk

This painting is atypical of Brooklyn, showing unusual lighting conditions on Grand Avenue.  The location, near Bergen Street, has several auto repair shops with colorful exteriors.  I was struck by the contrast between the sky and the building exteriors, whose brightness was exaggerated by the sunlight, creating a surreal view, reminding me of a De Chirico cityscape, especially with the shadow of the car on the sidewalk.    6x8 oil on panel.

Monday, December 3, 2018

A Typical Brooklyn View

From a short essay by Astrid Reuter in the Cezanne "Metamorphoses" catalog on his use of watercolor:  "The perception of the object rather than the object itself... became the real subject of the representation."  Actually it's really the growing awareness that perception is the dominating factor.  

The painting represents a typical Brooklyn view (Classon Avenue near St. Marks Avenue).  6x8 oil on panel.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Dean Street And Copying Rubens

Recently I've been reading a catalog on a Cezanne exhibition in Karlsruhe, Germany called "Metamorphoses," which explores how Cezanne overlapped the different genres of still life, landscape and figure painting.  One essay by Alexander Eiling points out that Cezanne, late in his life, advised the painter Charles Camoin "to make copies of Veronese or Rubens in the Louvre as if he were making them from nature."  This idea of copying Old Masters as if copying from nature goes back at least to an early 18th century book on painting, and was not invented by Cezanne.  Eiling goes on to write: "Cezanne's intense exploration of the practice of copying thus aimed not so much at reproduction as at transformation.  The copied artworks became superordinate providers of structure within which he could articulate his perceptions of nature.  The copy thus served Cezanne as a starting point..."  I'll just leave that thought there for you to ponder.

This small painting depicts a view of the shuttle bridge over Dean Street near Franklin Avenue in Brooklyn.  The cars, bridge, buildings etc. all become abstract shapes, especially when the painting is seen from a distance so that one cannot make out what it is right away.  6x8 oil on panel.