Tag Archives: manhattan

New York City during better days

City views, web by frankeber 2012     City views, detail web, by frankeber 2012

My heart goes out to the people of  this amazing city and the hardship they have to go through right now on the East coast. Let’s hope it’ll all be part of the past soon and people can continue with their lives.

Being just an artist, I sometimes feel I am not contributing enough to society like, say, a fire fighter or a police officer. On the other hand, I can paint the beautiful and exciting things that life holds for all of us and make people aware of them, maybe even make them feel better when they look at a painting. Quite a lofty goal, but really the only thing I can try doing, even in light of disaster.

One of my favorite sights in NY is the Chrysler building. I just love the shape of it! It is not the first time I have painted this scene, but I never get sick of painting  it. Every time you go there, it’ll look different, yielding a new version of the same subject matter.

One of the most important things to remember when painting scenes like this, is the fact that we’re really painting a street scene, *not* the Chrysler building as a focal point. The activities on the street are what attracts the eye, the building are just a backdrop. A pretty one, but still, in the end it’s all background noise.
Another important aspect is the fact that in representational painting, at least 60 percent is actually abstract painting! Maybe even more than that! I put the detail view there for that reason. If you look closely, there’s lots of nondescript, nonsensical squiggly lines and such, only making sense once we move back far enough. The secret is to let the eyes do the work,  piecing the scene together, so to speak. Not a big secret, really, but one that’s often overlooked.

Watercolor paintings always look better when painted spontaneous, loose and with no more that three layered washes. If a mistake happens while painting, it is always better to leave it wrong than to correct it. 90 percent of the time, no one will even notice that you made a ‘mistake’. The earlier you let go of that notion, the earlier you’ll paint freely and unencumbered, not caring about the outcome and ironically produce much better work!

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