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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

Midday city bustle

Midday city bustle, 2011 by frankeber

Midday city bustle, 2011 ::: Watercolor on paper
Posted in the New York, USA gallery

This painting has caused quite a stir in the family, so to speak. My wife thinks it looks “photorealistic” which is, of course, the ultimate insult!

And here I was thinking I got the intense light just right and thought the figures on the left are loosely done and have just enough information to tell the story. Far from realistic. I think I know what she means, though. The car on the right may be a bit overworked.

There’s a taxi cab in this one as well, but it came out a little puny. Definitely not a Crown Victoria, this one… what can you do? 🙂

Midday city bustle detail, 2011 by frankeber

The palette for this painting was incredibly simple, just grays mixed from yellow ochre, cobalt blue, permanent rose, or, ultra blue and burnt sienna, respectively. In my opinion, it always comes down to primaries. If you think about the gray mixes, they are basically red, blue and yellow. The secret is not what kind of fancy color you use, but HOW you use it. Maybe I am old school? (yikes)

The line in the middle was done by lifting paint while still wet using  a stiff paintbrush.

That reminds me of a quote by the legendary cyclist Lance Armstrong: “It’s not about the bike.”

The man is so right!

More street scenes!

I am in the middle of my yellow taxi cab series. I am completely taken by yellow cabs and I can’t stop painting them, aahhhhh!!

These scenes are basically black and white, or more correctly, warm and cool greys with a few colors mixed in while still wet. If you imagine the first one, Yellow and red, Manhattan, without the cabs and the red umbrella, it’d be an incredibly dull painting!
01_yellow and red, 2011 by frankeber

Yellow and red, Manhattan, 2011 ::: Watercolor on paper ::: SOLD
Posted in the New York, USA gallery

It took me many tries to get the taxis right. They are basically cadmium yellow and orange applied with two washes, but I made sure they are connected to the streets by letting the yellow bleed into the grey underneath. This is very important, otherwise they would just look like somebody glued them on top.

Notice also that I am placing them so they are surrounded by blue-ish greys, in effect two complimentary colors, therefore achieving a nice contrast and making them jump out. Maybe that’s why I like those taxi scenes so much! Orange taxis on blue-ish roads! By the way, the orange doesn’t come out right on the screen. It’s just not the right color and not bright enough, no matter what I do….

yellow and red, 2011 by frankeber

My idea for the second one, The Commuter, initially was to have two guys chatting in the foreground, one guy sitting in the car. The way I painted him, or the way it came out, he looks like he’s opening the car door. So I went with that, like he’s just getting into his car early mornings. As long as there’s a story, I am happy with it!

the commuter, 2011 by frankeber

The Commuter, 2010 ::: Watercolor on paper ::: SOLD
Posted in the New York, USA gallery

I am also happy to mention that my blog was recognized and added to the “50 best blogs for watercolor artists” list.

Thanks for adding me to the list and Happy Painting!!!

CAUTIONARY NOTE: I was alerted by someone that my second link could be fraudulent. After all, that someone pointed out, the website has absolutely nothing to do with art or watercolor whatsoever, and creating lists sounds like a flattering way of getting popular bloggers to link to a website, and gain page visits, for nothing. Obviously this needs further investigating, so for the moment I have removed that link. I suggest that anyone else contacted by that website think about what they’re doing in good faith.