The Strand

The Strand, oil on canvas, 11x14 in.

I painted this little alla prima piece this morning (it took about 3 hours, everyone always asks me “how long did that take?”). The Strand is a famous used and rare book store in NYC. It’s on Broadway at 12th Street. Inside it smells like old paper, just like a bookstore should, a perfect place to spend a cold, wet rainy afternoon in the city.

I wanted to experiment with  the colors in this, given it is an overcast day, I thought the combination of varied greys and bold reds would make a strong statement. I also love the way the angles of the scaffolding and the rectangles of the buildings carve up the composition into such basic geometric forms, so I wanted to emphasize that as well.

I began by working on a yellow ochre toned canvas with burnt umber to do the underpainting. On top of this, I worked alla prima (wet in to wet) using burnt umber, ultramarine, alizarin, yellow ochre, cadmium red, cadmium yellow, cadmium barium yellow light,  king’s blue, naples yellow, naples yellow light and titanium white. I used a wide variety of primaries to obtain multiple shades of warm and cool greys. When you have a painting that is heavy on the greys, mixing them out of a variety of primaries is the best way to get a wide range of variation.

Compositionally, I let the architectural elements break the space up into bold geometric forms that balance off one another through variations in size, value and color. The piece retains its perspective and sense of depth through the use of a wide range of values mapped in at the underpainting stage. The colors used on top work together to further create movement and balance.

I plan to feature this piece in my spring show “Loosely Structured” at the NJ Visual Arts Center in Summit. I will post more details about the show as the date gets closer.


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