“A New York minute”

I like to paint the verve of life and movement. In New York, there is a steam system in operation and you can see steam being released through pipes into the air. For the longest time I had asked myself what this was all about. Here’s the answer, courtesy of wikipedia.org:

The New York City steam system is a district heating system which takes steam produced by steam generating stations and carries it under the streets of Manhattan to heat, cool, or supply power to high rise buildings and businesses. Some New York businesses and facilities also use the steam for cleaning, climate control and disinfection.

Pretty cool, I’d say…

'A New York minute' by frankeber, 2011

New York Minute (2011)
Watercolor on paper

First I thought I was going to do a painting of one of the pipes with steam rising and maybe cars going by. Then I thought it might be a bit boring as a subject matter, so I settled on a busy street scene with steam visible but part of the overall design, not as the focal point. I think it worked out, because the real focal point is all the activity in the forground and as you look your eyes actually start seeing  more and more. Nothing is really worked out though, except the taxi in the foreground and even with that, I was careful not to put too much detail. My favorite part is actually the white car on the very right corner, not sure why…

New York minute detail, by frankeber, 2011

If you look closely you will notice that there are pretty stark shapes of the building in the background. I had to work with tone, edge and color in the foreground to accomplish a balanced painting. It was more difficult than I had anticipated! I also broke every rule in the book, because my focal point is placed right at the lower edge of the painting. I quite like that, rules are there to be broken.

As for the painting process, a light stain of the sky and road came first, followed by the background buildings and finally all the cars, people and foreground activity. Cars and done wet on wet and people are mostly dry brushed. The shadow under them grounds them to the scene and is very important. Thanks for looking!!

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6 thoughts on ““A New York minute”

  1. lesliepaints

    Lovely painting of the “steaminess” of New York. The center of interest is different for me, Frank. My eye wants to settle on and into the group of people in front of the steamy area. The cars lead in and point me to that spot as well as those two figures in the middle of the street. I like the white car because it seems to balance this painting by being whiter than the lovely grays you have created to make this scene work.

    On another note, if I may? I remembered a painting that Carol King did and talked about the same topic, here: http://carolking.wordpress.com/2010/08/15/blowing-off-steam/ This way, your viewers may see the pipes, this post if they wish! 🙂

    1. frankeber Post author

      Good idea, Leslie – I remember Carol’s post about the pipes, I should have probably linked to it but I forgot…thanks!
      Good comment, as always…I think you sort of answered my own question about the white car! It’s great to get your opinion, it really helps me along!!

  2. Carol King

    Hey Frank, sorry my comment is late, I was on vacation for the past two weeks. As always, I love your NYC street scenes. My eye always goes to the buildings first. Probably because I am fascinated with your ability to capture the buildings but leave out the detail.

    Yes, NY has steam coming out of the streets, usually from the manhole covers in the middle of the street. But right now it is also extremely steamy due to the heat. Everything seems to be steamy and hot right now. Your picture captured the steaminess perfectly.

    1. frankeber Post author

      Thank you so much, Carol. Good to see you again, hope you had a great vacation!! Think of everything you see as a shape, it really helps!!

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