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.

Vintage Navigli Snaps

I love collecting found snaps, making up a tale to go along with them.  So I'll kick off the first blog entry of my re-vamped website with something I've been saving--a vintage store find in the Navigli district of Milan last September.  The navigli were the city's medieval canals, and though much of the system disappeared beginning in the 1930s through 60s, two remain - Naviglio Grande and Naviglio Pavese. No longer with provenance nor destination, they are now the center and namesake of a pretty cool neighborhood. 

The day we visited, a strange scene was unfolding in the canal, attracting a small Saturday morning audience. Workmen waded into the stagnant water netting up all the small remaining fish.  To rescue them from the receding water level? In anticipation of some city rehabilitation project? We weren't sure. In some spots the water was so low, what we imagined were pleasure barges with bars were stuck, suspended in some Friday night past. 

I wandered into a small antique shop across Ripa di Porta Ticinese. Inside, a drawn sign indicated no pictures allowed.  As I turned to leave, I was drawn to the illustration on the cover of a small negative holder. Inside were dozens of medium format negatives --mostly family vacation portraits by the sea. 

Ten Euro and several months later, I look at them and imagine a big Italian family living in an apartment with a view of the naviglio.  And one July or August they escape the city heat for the sea.  Momentarily trading their inner city canal for a wider, saltier stretch of water. It's making me long for summer on a frigid New York night.