I love these buildings. They’re on Tenth Street between 5th and 6th (Brooklyn) and I’ve walked by them so many times. But not till recently when I decided to start drawing the neighborhood did I stop and really LOOK at them. And then of course I thought what a wonderful picture they’d make.
I thought to show you the different stages the picture has gone through, from a pencil sketch,
to laying in the initial colors, to a finished piece.
The woman coming down the block was looking at her phone. I didn’t manage to capture that telling modern detail as my sketchbook is only 8.5 x 12 inches and I’m not a miniaturist. The blue fencing was a muddle at first because it had the unusual quality of slanting inwards. I don’t know when I’d seen this before, so it took me awhile to even “see” it. This is one of the peculiarities of drawing; we draw what we know, not what we see. It takes time for the brain to register what it is seeing, and until we practice observing, we overlook most of what is before our eyes because a) there’s simply too much to take in, and b) we think we know what we’re seeing anyway. Which is why even if you don’t want to take up sketching, it’s a great exercise to pretend to be a tourist in your own neighborhood and go around ooohing and ahhhing at sights you’ve grown so accustomed to you don’t even see them anymore.
If you would like to see more of my drawings of Park Slope, please visit my Facebook page: Painting Park Slope https://www.facebook.com/slopepaintings/ And if you’re in the neighborhood, stop by at Java Joe’s http://www.javajoebrooklyn.com/ for an excellent brew. Aside from coffees and teas and imported sweets from England and
Ireland, you will be able to see one of my paintings for sale on the wall and a couple of my postcards.
I got into drawing buildings years ago quite by chance, but I’ve been looking at them ever since I was five and we moved to Manhattan from a sleepy suburb of Chicago called Skokie. The first time I saw the lights of New York I thought we’d moved to fairy-land. I simply had nothing else to compare it with. I think the need to compare something startlingly new with something already known must be some kind of innate human need, because it wasn’t long before I found something.
Picture a five-year-old walking by herself – in those days it was quite common – to and from school twice a day (we came home for lunch) with nothing else to do but look at her strange surroundings and wonder at them. What came to mind was what I had seen in my mother’s sewing box. The tall brick buildings of the Upper West Side reminded me of my mother’s needle cases, and the people inside were the needles. The cars rolling by were spools of thread. And now the city made sense to me.
In later years, (though not so very many) I elaborated a bit on the analogy of the sewing supplies, and saw the whole world as God’s mending basket, which somehow we’d all landed in for repairs.