Here’s another painting for Karin Jurick’s Different Strokes From Different Folks painting challenge.
Karen tells us that our location is the corner of Madison Avenue and 39th Street in New York City. This is useful information, because it allows me to look it up in Google Maps using Street View.
I can’t paint from a photo unless I can imagine myself inside the scene, and Google Street View helps me do that. I can see what’s behind me, up, down, on the next block, etc. I can even see that beyond that red awning there’s a McDonald’s in case I want some virtual high octane coffee while I paint. Photos are never as good as being there, but Street View is the next best thing. (BTW, if you haven’t seen it yet, check out Bill Guffey’s Virtual Paintout challenge. They paint – with Google’s blessings – from Google Street Views.)
By looking at the Google map, I can see that we’re facing north, and the time of day is probably – as I’d guessed – morning. That will help me make my color choices. Coincidentally, the Google Street View image looks like it was taken about the same time of day that Karin took her photo.
For comparison, I’ve also included Karin’s original reference photo. It’s the same scene, the same size, yet see how different these two images are? Photos DO lie! Always. Neither of these photos is completely accurate. The Google image was taken with a series of wide angle lenses, creating all sorts of distortion and making distances appear much longer than they really are. My guess is that Karin’s was taken with a bit of a telephoto, compressing distances unnaturally. The truth can be found somewhere between these two images.
If I had time, I could try to correct the distortion by drawing the buildings using perspective. But I’m in a rush, and more attracted to the cars than the skyline (I like colorful shiny things!), so I’ll focus just on the lower right corner of the reference for my painting.
Here are a few photos I took along the way:
Hmmm… what color to tone the background? Well, the tail lights are my favorite part of this photo, so let’s try “tail light color.”
The background toning is acrylic. From here on out, I’ll be using oils. I didn’t want to get too fussy, so I’m drawing directly on the panel with a brush and Mars Black oil color.
(Note: The next few in-progress images are were taken in the studio with a camera at night, and I didn’t take the time to color correct them well. Too much red, too little blue.)
The painting progresses, and I can’t make up my mind about the figure on the street corner…
A woman striking a “casual” pose?
A businessman on his way to work?
An indistinct cluster of people?
Yeah, I think I’ll go with that last one. 🙂
This final image was done on the scanner and color-corrected so it’s truer to the original painting.