Painting can sometimes be a struggle, but it’s always worth it. Kimberly and I came across this scene in Central Park a few years back. I was taken by the patterns of light and textures throughout the scene, but also the activity of the fashion shoot taking place at the moment. We shot a number of photos with the intent of creating a studio painting.
What you see here is my third attempt at interpreting the scene. There are a number of reasons I found this scene difficult to capture. I could have easily chosen two areas as the focal point – the figures engaged in the photoshoot, or the figures at the top of the stairs. There are also a number of areas that could draw interest away from the focal point if not properly handled. The Minton Tiles that make up the ceiling are a work of art in their own right. The stairs could easily draw interest away from everything else. The stonework of the wall that runs up the stairs is also filled with interesting patterns.
My challenge was to suggest all of these elements without overpainting any of them. I chose to use the contrast between lights and darks to drive the focus to the figures of the photo shoot. To further drive this importance, the difference between the warm and cool colors of the painting is at it’s most intense where the light goes into shadow around these figures. To keep the viewer’s eye from being drawn quickly to the right of the picture, I chose to play down the structure of the stairs as they move to the right. The ceiling was the most difficult challenge. It was important to suggest the tiles with a minimal amount of rendering. I painted and repainted them multiple times.