Category: United States

New prints

I often like working on a few prints at a time. I appear to worry less and not get too bogged down if they don’t work out as anticipated. Here’s a linocut of a view towards the Empire State building. When I visited New York, I did a few sketches at the top of the Rock. I really enjoyed the view and watching people looking out at the Manhattan skyline. I particularly liked it here as there weren’t so many people and I had room to sketch (unlike the Empire State Building!).

The print (below) is based on drawings I made in Camden (walking towards primrose hill). I had to feature the friendly blackbird who kept me company whilst I was sketching.

Sports Bar print

I’ve just proofed a new Boston sports bar linocut print. I’ve been playing around with colours. Originally I printed the basket ball court (on the TV) green as the Boston Celtics were playing on a green court when I did my sketch. However it appeared to confuse friends as you associate football with a green pitch and they’re playing basket ball! Anyway I’m sticking with orange . . .

New York and New England trip

Its been a fantastic few weeks in the US. Flew into JFK and arrived on an unusually warm May day. Made our way to Williamsburg in Brooklyn on the L line. Lovely flat and neighbourhood. Lots of character and trendy young professionals passing by with small dogs and skinny lattes.

So much to pack in with only a week to see the sights. Felt we had to hit the tourist hot spots and braced ourselves for much queuing. Times Square firstly and quick sketch. Could have spent hours here especially as there were chairs set out on the streets for tourists. So much traffic with advertisements and signs in every direction.

Upto the top of the Rock.  Recommended by friends and great view looking out towards the Empire State building and no queues. Hurrah!  I liked watching visitors response to the view on the observatory and did a few sketches.

A magical tour of Radio City followed and I enjoyed seeing the fabulous 30’s interiour and stage. Especially the carpet designs incorporating musical instruments and the stylish soft furnishings and arm chairs.

Walked around in Greenwich village and ventured into Washington Square Park. Sat on a bench and drew the surrounding buildings peaking above the trees and people meeting and passing by the fountain.
May is graduation time and we got caught up in the NYU street celebrations nearby  Even ended up watching the university jazz band. Great!

Took the New York water taxi. The boat moved fast so I sketched quickly. Not easy as it was very windy! Looking over the top of tourists heads I sketched the Brooklyn Bridge and Statue of Liberty.

Whilst working out our next move and consulting the street map, I sketched the nearby nut and pretzel vendors.

The High line was a welcome break from the fast pace of the city. Picked up take away lunch from nearby Chelsea Market and enjoyed the elevated views of Manhatton’s West Side. The high line is a public park built on an old freight rail line. It’s maintained by local residents. Brilliantly designed.  Lovely to see local school kids drawing the plants and city view.

Cycling in Central Park in glorious sunshine was a highlight of the trip. Squeezed in a little sketching. Really liked the limestone art deco apartment buildings (designed by Emery Roth) that tower above the park. Stopped for an icecream and absorbed the view of the boats on the Lake.

Visits to Bryant park ( never seen so many people taking part in a yoga class in one place before!) and Central station followed before a visit to the top of the Empire State. Despite the long queue watching the sun go down over the city made it all worth while. Squeezing between tourists made it difficult to sketch so simply enjoyed the view.

We hired a car and returned to Providence and Rhode Island School of Design. Brief stop and slightly strange to return after all these years.  More bars and coffee shops and also a museum have appeared since I left. Then headed to Boston. Had a fantastic time. Followed the Freedom Trail and sketched on Bunker Hill.

In the evening went out to a sports bar with friends to watch the basketball. Boston Celtics were playing Oklahoma Thunder and there was a great atmosphere. I had one eye on one of the many TV screens and another on my sketchbook. It was fun to sketch people as they were glued to the game.

Headed to Cape Cod and stayed in Wellfleet. We were a little unlucky with the weather however a good place to venture to other towns. Visited Provincetown. Sheltered from the rain in the library upstairs with an impressive 55 ft model of a fishing boat.

Luckier with the weather in Ogunquit, Maine. Stopped off at the Museum  of American Artwhich has an amazing view across the ocean. Enjoyed tasty lobster rolls and watched the boats passing and fishermen working. I liked sketching the pretty draw bridge.

Had a lovely time staying in Ellsworth. We jumped in the jeep and travelled to Bar Harbour and Acadia park. Some great views of Lighthouses including the Nubble lighthouse. Cold and windy so a quick sketch.

Took the mail boat to Little Cranbury Island and Isleford. Walked a trail leading to the beach trying to avoid the mosquitos. As it’s out of season we were the only people there. So quiet and still.

Had a 20 minute wait for the boat back. Passed the time sketching.

The boat back was busy with a class of school children, weavers and some of the locals. 

On the journey back to New York, we staying in Dover, New Hampshire. From here we visited Portsmouth and other towns neaby (So many english names!). Had fun times at a local bar drinking Sam Adams beer and enjoying the open mic sessions. Some very talented musicians. Sketch book came out to draw an amazing blue grass duo. (Forgot my blue pen so added later.)

Time to head home

New York and New England Gallery Visits

The galleries and museums in NYC were top of my ‘to do’ list. The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) and Metropolitan Museum house a number of fantastic pieces from the 20th and 21st centuries.

I saw so much so the following are a few of my highlights. Currently at MOMA there’s an eye catching series of David Shrigley black and white wood cuts brilliantly displayed on a spotted wall.

Jasper Johns work especially his ‘Flag’ painting (1954-55) is incredibly eye catching and thought provoking. On closer inspection fragments of newspaper can be seen behind the wax coated painted stars and stripes.Whilst at RISD I was lucky to see many of his prints which are equally impressive and experimental in mark making.
The current retrospective of Cindy Shermans photos takes you through her work from the 1970’s to present day. Amazing to see so many photographs of her in her many different guises. Particularly like the ‘untitled film stills’ from the 1970s.

The Guggenheim designed by Frank Lloyd Wright is a wonderful building. Disappointingly much of it was closed off  as the previous exhibit was being taken down. However there was a very moving exhibition by Francesca Woodman, a young photographer who studied at RIDI and created very haunting mostly black and white self portraits.

During my trip I was lucky to see many Alex Katz paintings and prints. The exhibition at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts is stunning. Many large scale prints using bold and simple colours. Some of his large etchings I thought were screenprints and enjoyed trying to decipher the printing process behind the image. He often incorporates glamourous portraits of family and friends and there’s a room of idyllic prints set in Maine. Fantastic use of light. I don’t like using the word ‘cool’ but they really are!

I’m a big fan of Edward Hopper’s paintings and prints so I wanted to make sure I saw as many as I could whilst in New York and New England. ‘The Lighthouse at Two Lights (1929) will now always remind me of my trip. The sky is so blue and his use of shadows reminescent of sunny days spent in Maine.