Renoir once said if you’re searching for something to draw open your front door go outside and take 10 paces set yourself up and begin painting. Well in my own life I have traveled a bit more than those 10 paces Renoir was talking about. And the things to draw and paint have become very interesting.
So when I started to drive a taxi cab as a way of supporting myself while going to art school that inspired a whole number of drawing painting using even a little book and film about the experience. You can see the film here.
You can read the Tales of New York book here.
Around this time I was living on 13th Street, and it was a very strange area in those days. Going up on the roof one night the view was eerie, and seemed the perfect subject for a painting.
The streets around my apartment were completely filled with fascinating characters, which made great subjects for paintings. When I would take my clothing down to the laundromat, I would sit on the sidewalk and just watch the world go by.
Around this time I managed to move out of the East Village and find myself a loft in midtown Manhattan. How great it was to be able to stretch out and make some larger works. And the view out my window was an amazing view of the Empire State building. Look no further for a subject to paint, I thought. Just set up the easel and paint the view right outside ride the front window. These lofts were never really intended for artists to live in them, and so I needed to get some plumbing put in. My plumber lived in the South Bronx, which was another fascinating and dangerous area of NY. Visiting him and climbing up to his roof, I thought the amazing view was worth capturing, and that is the painting at the top of this post, ‘Little Fires in the South Bronx’.
The subways of New York never ceased amaze me, and the huge range of characters I saw down there inspired lots of artwork as well.
Since moving to London I’m always been struck by the beauty of the natural landscape creeps into the corners of the city. Probably the most notable difference about London from New York was all the trees. So having spent so long painting the gritty reality of New York, my feeling about London was much more romantic. The resulting paintings of unexpected landscapes in the city have given me material for many exhibitions since arriving here.
Living in South London, I have never felt the need to take more than a 10 minute walk to find something interesting to paint. Thank you, Mr. Renoir, your advice has been very helpful to me!