Tag Archives: steam system New York city

“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!!