Taxis, night light!

city streets, 2011 by frankeber

City Streets, 2011 ::: Watercolor on paper
Posted in the New York USA gallery

I am still in my taxi phase. What I’m trying to paint right now is a view of times square, but I am having a lot of trouble with that! The light in Times Square is so intense, so many different billboards, lots of different colors, people. It is very hard to simplify a scene like that, I must have done at least ten paintings already and I don’t like a single one of them…

Hey, whatever it takes…

I can already hear someone say, “Well, some things just don’t work in watercolor.”

They work if you make it work! That’s what I say…

This scene is complicated as well, but much easier to handle as it can be divided into major shapes that don’t compete with one another. Night scenes are a tricky thing that way. I find that it’s easier to try to paint them almost in a single wash, using lots of pigment. The second wash was really only applied to the background to suggest windows and lights. I let the colors bleed to create many lost and found edges. I was very careful not to overwork the cars, because it’d make this painting look more like an illustration. Not that there’s something wrong with an illustration, it’s just not what I am going for here. I am not interested in painting the cars accurately. In fact, if you look at the closeup there are just shapes that suggest there are taxis there.

The goal is always to capture what a scene is all about and we never paint anything but shapes, we just call them trees, cars, buildings, clouds.

City streets, detail 2011 by frankeber

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17 thoughts on “Taxis, night light!

  1. Noemí

    I think that’s it’s a very good job! I like indefinition in the foreground taxi, seems a fast urban impression.
    Saludos!

    1. frankeber Post author

      Thank you so much, Noemí! That was what I was trying to do – a fast, action-packed painting. I am happy you like it!! Thanks for linking to me, by the way!

  2. lesliepaints

    Excellent. Excellent. Excellent. That is my opinion about this painting. I am sure there are others that I would like from your discard pile, Frank. This gives the feeling of chaos, bright lights, and showtime! Quite “Frank”ly a very impressionistic watercolor of New York. Ever the perfectionist, I believe you blind yourself to the truth of a good painting just for the sheer exhaustion of the attempts. I like this very much. Once again, lovely composition with the addition of that foreground figure.

    1. frankeber Post author

      Ever the perfectionist…so true. If I could only start liking what I do! hahaha Seriously though, this one IS easier than painting the times square! Impressionistic is good, I think I see myself going there some more even…we’ll see what happens. You just leave the greatest comments, Leslie. Sometimes I don’t even know what to write as a reply.. thank you ever so much!!
      Is it apparent that the foreground figure is suppose to be a guy on a scooter or motorbike? Not that it matters…

  3. Carol King

    Hi Frank,

    As a native New Yorker I must tell you that you’ve really captured the City in this scene. The taxi’s look great. I love the way you painted them. They look like they are really zooming by. Just the way they look just before they crash into each other. LOL! The lights and buildings are terrific. You did an amazing job. I really love this painting.

    As an aside, I was driving from upstate NY back to the City today. As I got off the Whitestone bridge there was a sign saying there was an accident at the entrance to the BQE. (Brooklyn Queens Expressway) Once I got to the entrance to the BQE I looked over and yup, it was two yellow taxi’s that had hit each other.

    I continued on the BQE and as I approached the bridge from Queens to Brooklyn there as another sign that there were disabled vehicles on the Kosciuszko Bridge. You guessed it. More damn taxis had hit each other.

    I have no idea why I told you that long story. Maybe to inspire you to do another painting of taxis. This time make it of two taxi’s hitting each other. 🙂

    1. frankeber Post author

      Thanks for telling me the story, Carol! I seriously did not know that taxi cabs hit each other a lot…lol…I heard all kinds of jokes about NYC cab drivers. Remember Seinfeld? He use to joke a lot about them, saying things like how they accelerate towards red lights (you CAN’T make a red light). I also heard they have to have an unpronounceable name with no vowels in order to get a license…hahaha
      Two taxis hitting each other? I like that!! Great comment, Carol, as always…thank you for visiting. I sold one of the taxi scenes yesterday, yay!!

      1. Carol King

        Awesome on your sale Frank! That’s wonderful.

        I didn’t mean to go on and on. I really like this painting very much. It was a real NY feel. Which I guess is what got me started.

        Congratulations again on your sale. When I come to SoCal I want some painting lessons.

      2. frankeber Post author

        It’s ok, I love getting your comments. BTW, the painting looks much better in real life, colors are more brilliant. For some reason, the yellows and orange doesn’t translate so well on the screen. I am actually starting workshops this year…the first one is June 4 and 5 at San Clemente, CA. I know, not interesting for you, maybe I can some day come back east and do one there..

  4. Carol King

    I just showed your painting and my comment to your post to my husband. He loved your painting, but then proceeded to tell me that he was called to a job today where a taxi had t-boned a Ford Explorer. The people in the Ford had to be cut out. (He’s a NYC NYPD detective and has little or no love of taxis.)

  5. Artswebshow

    My guess is that this would be a very difficult thing to do in watercolour but it surely can be done.
    I think you did great with this.
    I like the sense of movement you generated here.

    1. frankeber Post author

      Thanks for the visit, Richard – nice to get a comment from you again. I noticed your blog is very popular! Congrats…and yes, you are right, it is very difficult to do but I really wanna try to do new things with the medium even if it means lots of failed attempts!

  6. Nick

    This is just stunning. Your realistic depictions with looser brushwork is quite impressive.

    If you don’t mind me asking, are you using colored gouache to achieve some of the lighting effects? I’m coming out of art school and am really intrigued.

    Thanks for you time,
    Swift
    http://www.nickgswift.com

    1. frankeber Post author

      Hi Nick,

      Thanks for your visit and the comment here. To answer your question: I hardly ever use colored gouache, except maybe for some taillights where the wc red is just not brilliant enough. The signs on top of the taxi are white paper, so are most of the other lights. If I do use body color it’s mostly to enhance objects in the foreground, it’s another way of making them pop and separate them more clearly from the background. Hope this helps! Good luck, wc takes lots of hours of practice and you’ll get there! What do the Zen masters say who kept sending away his student? Paint 200 paintings and then come back (not that I am a Zen master, far from it!!)

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