I visited Central Park for the first time several years ago and ever since then I knew I had to come back for the specific purpose of painting this “American Masterpiece” created by Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux in 1853.
We arrived to partly cloudy skies and the forecast didn’t promise much better. I planned spending my first full day scouting out areas, getting my bearings and taking photographs. When I left the hotel I found cloud cover over most of the southern half of the park. It was a short walk, 2 blocks from our hotel, in the area surrounding the south eastern part of the park. I spent the morning chasing the sun with my camera. I was gitty. I was finally back in this beautiful park. The sun only lasted about 2 hours and then hid behind the clouds for most of the day. I would spend the rest of my day with my wife and close friends seeing the sights in the Soho district of NYC.
The next day was about the same, as well as the next few days. I could tell there would be no time to paint. The clouds moved every morning right around 10am. In situations like this I have to make a decision: either to paint for 2 hours and get 1 painting or spend that same amount of time gathering reference material in the form of photographs for possibly 5 paintings. It was an easy decision, take the photographs and soak in the essence of Central Park. The essence of a place is important to me when designing a painting. What makes Central Park, Central Park? For me it’s the American Elms, the park benches, meandering paths, black lamposts, intimate lakes, the lawns and, of course, the people strolling their way throught the park. For me the best part of the park are the bridges and arches. The park has 39 bridges and arches and no 2 are the same. These are the elements I hope to capture in my paintings of Central Park.
We spent a lot of time taking in the sights of NYC. We strolled around Soho, Greenwich Village and even the Financial District. We ate great food every day and had a few drinks along the way. One place that must be experienced is PDT (Please Don’t Tell) It’s hard to describe this hole in the wall bar with it’s very interesting drinks, dark atmosphere and creepy taxidermy. You get to the bar through an old telephone booth inside Crifs Dogs in the East Village neighborhood of NYC. You have to know it’s there. There are no signs marking it’s existence. It only holds about 20-30 people and reservations are highly recommended.
I was disappointed at the amount of clouds I encountered during my stay in New York City but I suppose it’s to be expected in late September, early October. I ended up getting a large amount of reference material along with my memories to complete many paintings. I plan to exhibit these paintings early next year. I’ll also post a few here and on my website along the way.