New York

Jazz Age Couple Painting Demo

Every summer at the Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governor's Island, I leave in awe of the beautiful 1920s costumes and snazzy dance moves of fellow New Yorkers. It is such a colorful event to take part in and to doodle afterwards.  Every year I see this particular couple on the dance floor and they are marvelous. Watching them, I feel momentarily transported into the supper club scene of a movie where complicated dance steps are second nature and get even better the more bath tub gin one guzzles.

Drawing them was a little bit of a breakthrough for me.  Some of my jazz age drawings have been looking a little tight and overly cartoony, but after a day of frustrated drawing last weekend, where nothing was quite working, I did a rough, loose sketch of them and it just began to come together naturally.  With painting, I think I need a fair amount of warm up time to finally loosen up enough to create a piece I really like.

Here is the evolution of the painting.  I started with a wet pink wash to play off of her red costume.  Whether or not I have the patience to let it dry thoroughly before moving onto the next layer depends on my mood. 

I've been playing a bit with time lapses while working and captured a bit of the layering process.

And the finished product.  I often outline in black with a brush pen and India ink, but I liked the effect of using black watercolor and seeing it bleed a bit into shadows.  I'm really liking this effect and I think I'll use it for my next round of Mermaid Parade paintings.

This piece is for sale in the shop and will be part of a short Illustrated Guide to the Jazz Age Lawn party I'm working up for August's to do.

Sketching Michael Arenella's 11th Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party, Governor's Island

A few Fitzgerald-y pages from my sketchbook from last weekend's Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governor's Island.  In case you missed the straw boater hats, champagne cocktails and old timey jazz from Michael Arenella and his Dreamland Orchestra, the lawn party's second act this summer is August 13 and 14.

The Mondays

I have a feeling this is going to be one of those days where even the smallest victory is something to cling to.  I managed to get up early enough to make my own lunch today! And my retirement calculator says I can retire 1 week ahead of schedule! Go me!

On days like this, when all I seem to hear is the digital call and response of tinkling office phones and my own typing is pounding in my ears, I remember that I can stop what I'm doing and peer out the window onto Rockefeller Center gardens and Fifth Avenue bustling below, and damn...it's actually a beautiful New York spring day outside.

I've been thinking recently of all the New York 'favorites': my NY places both beloved or newly discovered that remind me how lucky I have been to live in this place.  And I think a good remedy to the Mondays is to share them!  For me, any one of these activities is a rut-breaker and steels me for the NY hustle. These are my New York Places with a capital "P".

1.  The Edgar Degas Rooms at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

I've lived in NYC for 18 years, so how often do I even make it up to the Met anymore? It's shameful. Still, the rooms of Edgar Degas' oils and pastels in galleries 816 and 817 comprise my favorite spot in the museum. The easiest way to get there is to go up the stairs upon entering the Met and hang a left, which will take you straight through the Drawings and Prints and Photo galleries and into the 19th and early 20th Century European section.  Though this wing is never particularly tranquil, my seas calm and my mind-silt begins settling to the bottom when I enter the dimmed gallery of drawings. The lights are low to protect the vibrancy of the pastels, many drawn on colored papers that have since faded to tints of grey. Still, the colors glow in the low light. I never get tired of looking at the studies of little ballerinas and the women trying to bath in improbably small basins.

Dancers, Pink and Green by Edgar, Degas. Oil on canvas c. 1890. From the H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.  On the  Met's super informative website  I learned that Degas manipulated the oils to mimic the pastel techniques he liked to use.

Dancers, Pink and Green by Edgar, Degas. Oil on canvas c. 1890. From the H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.  On the Met's super informative website I learned that Degas manipulated the oils to mimic the pastel techniques he liked to use.

So this marks the first in my own personal "best of" New York list. Every time I feel a case of the Monday's coming on, I'll share another New York spot that brings a smile to my face.