This painting was really enjoyable to do, as I really was excited by the stark silhouette of Lincoln against the sky, and it was also cool to do a painting in the crowded environment of Union Square. Greg Kreutz, a great plein air painter from New York City, was heading a group of plein air painters that day, and a mutual friend of ours got me into the group. Greg had a lot of great advice to offer. His critiques taught me so much, as he is a really seasoned painter with years of experience painting out of doors.
When the painting started out, it was a stormy summer day, with dark grey clouds hugging the skyscrapers of Manhattan. The air was heavy, and the figure of Lincoln seemed to be brooding, lost in silent contemplation.
As summer storms will often do, the sky suddenly parted, and the sun came through the branches of the tree, and fell onto the sidewalk in dappled light patterns. I was initially reluctant to convert to the new color palette, but after seeing the light glisten on the sides of the statue, I gladly started to repaint.
I was glad to see that this painting appealed to such a wide range of people. At one point, I had twenty or so random city kids watching me paint, all in utter silence. People really surprise me- one kid says “man, you paint like Sorolla.” I was stunned that he knew who Sorolla was, and flattered by his compliment. At another point, a few cops came and watched for a while, cracking jokes about all the surrounding people. The funniest moment had to be this little Irish woman walking up to me and saying “DAAAAAMN, kid, you could sell dat painting for like fifteen bucks or something. Maybe, if I shot you, you could sell it for thirty. You know, because only dead artists are worth money.” I laughed so hard that I couldn’t stop, and then I felt bad because I realized that she was paying me a compliment, and she didn’t mean to say anything funny. I still couldn’t stop laughing.
I really enjoyed the day, but the only thing I hate about painting in New York City is trying to lug a wet painting and an easel through the subways and onto the Long Island Rail Road.