Wednesday, October 30, 2013

New York III: Coney Island


 Yachts, Coney Island, N.Y., 15.5 x 11.5 cm   SOLD

I traveled down to see the charms of Coney Island: here described in Tom Waits', Coney Island Baby:

 Every night she comes
To take me out to dreamland
When I'm with her, I'm the richest
Man in the town

I also think of songs by Lou Reeds: Coney Island Baby , and the Velvet Underground's,  Coney Island Steeplechase, which, at a rockier pace takes a not dissimilar angle:

Would you like to go on the Coney Island Steeple
Go and have a good time
We'll take the subway right down to King's Highway
Gonna have a good time
If it's all right it would be so nice
If you come and go with me
The roller-coaster you and me

But the Coney Island I found more interesting was the sense of ruin and only a half kilometre from the newish boardwalk, where elderly Russians perambulate. Tom Waitsian territory indeed, of bust up car repair years, pawnshops and broken down tenements. I painted to a backdrop of police sirens.

Blocks, Coney Island, N.Y., oil on card, 14 x 11 cm 


New York II: East Village, Brooklyn, Morningside Heights, and outside the Public Library


These are pictures from less systematic perambulations. It is difficult in such an intensively commercial zone as Manhattan to find places to sit and work peacefully: this is partly why I spent so much time exploring Queens, though another reason is simply that it is, I find, better creatively to explore a smaller area with some concentration, than a wider area superficially.

A Chinese Restaurant, East Village, oil on card, 11.5 x 14 cm

I loved the rectangularity of everything, as if the work were a vast three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle composed from square and rectangular pieces: it suits my somewhat blocky style.

 Outside the library, Manhattan, oil on card, 10.5 x 14.5 cm

Washington Square, Manhattan, N.Y., oil on card, 14.5 x 13.5 cm   SOLD

Tenement, Morningside Heights, Manhattan, N.Y., oil on card, 11.5 x 15 cm

I remember seeing something on television once about Glasgow, in which the presenter maintained that the layout of New York and its systems of tenements was more reminiscent of Glasgow than any other city, but I cannot, alas, recall what programme it was. But in a sense Glasgow is more interesting, because of its slopes and hills: New York could do with a few hills to set it off.  And I could find no ecclesiastical architecture to match that of "Greek" Thomson.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

New York I: Queens, from the ground


I`m back from a successful painting trip to New York. I stayed in Astoria, Queens,  a very pleasant area with  an astonishing variety of restaurants, and which has very much a community atmosphere.

 28 pochades from New York: a good and consistent catch this time

 I explored the area between Astoria Park in the North to the Generating Station on 20th Avenue in the North-East, Queens Boulevard in the South and Queensbridge Park in the North-West. All this can be done quite happily on foot.

 Eleven from Queens, from the ground. There are three painted from a roof which I`ll put in a separate posting.

It has a fair range of buildings and spaces, with industrial spaces and workshops along the river and to the North West, as well as handsome tenements and detached houses.

 43rd St and 31st Avenue, Queens, N.Y., oil on card, 14 x 13.5 cm   SOLD

 The fringes of cities, usually less mediated than the centres, contianing ruin and well as order, industry as well as commerce and houses as well as blocks, are almost always much more fun to paint.

Warehouses, Queens, N. Y., oil on card, 15 x 9.5 cm

This next, painted under the wonderful raised railway, is one of the best of the bunch, I feel:

 Under the tracks, Astoria Boulevard, Queens, N. Y., oil on card, 14.5 x 10.5 cm  SOLD

 41st St from the junction with Newtown Road, Queens, NY, oil on card, 15 x 11 cm

Woodside Avenue, Queens, N. Y., oil on card, 13.5 x 12.5 cm

I bought beautiful American oil points by Williamsburg, which have helped enrich my earth colours.

Astoria Park, Queens, N. Y., oil on card, 12.5 x 14 cm