Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Manhattan Henge

The fascinating phenomenon of Manhattanhenge is something that I'd really like to see myself one of these days. It truly is amazing how many wonderful and flat out cool things exist out there that are just waiting to be discovered... by being bored and watching a random episode of CSI:NY.

I don't know about anyone else but I find this whole concept really interesting. I have never been a fan of cityscapes (painted or otherwise) but something about the juxtaposition of the darkened buildings and the pure light of a sunrise that struck me.

The first section was merely laying out shapes and making sure the perspective was correct. I know that most painters tend to snub their noses at the use of black but really sometimes there is just no way around it, in my opinion. It wasn't that straight raw umber wasn't dark enough, it was more that it wasn't devoid enough, if that makes any sense. I originally had it as straight out of the tube and it just felt like a giant mud puddle. Once I added just a little black it all started to look much better.

But I think the biggest challenge of this painting is going to be letting go of my perfectionism. The temptation to break out the ruler is going to be overwhelming. I think that the darks of the buildings are going to be difficult for me as well. In the past I always painted from pictures or from life and tried very hard to replicate exactly what I saw. In cases like that, it was easy to ignore the old technical lessons like how cool colors recede back or how the eye is drawn to harsh lines. Here I really want to try to take a concept and create my own image using pictures only as basic guidelines so it's going to be interesting to see if I can remember all that and see how it will all work out.

The one thing this painting is not turning out to be is the quick and easy project I thought it would be. It seemed so minimal and so simplistic but the more I painted the more I found out that the simplicity is just an illusion. Yeah it looks like a simple value and color grade to the sky some blobby dark grey and brown and black buildings on the sides. But when you paint it like that? It looks flat and boring and, for lack of a better word, wrong. I had to add in small scumbling of purples and pinks (which you can't really see in the photograph) and very light pinks and oranges and yellows (again which you can't really see photograph). I am expecting the buildings to be equally as challenging.

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