Watercolour painting of busy crossing on East 42nd Street, New York by artist John Haywood

East 42nd Street, New York, watercolour painting

This week’s watercolour paintings continue my recent forays into pencil free studies and also mark a welcome return to ‘painting bigger’!

These first two studies were done on the backs of some previous failures. I already had in mind the scene that I wanted to paint and had spent some time studying it before I started on these. From the outset though, even though I was painting freely, I was really aware of how much I was having to concentrate to get everything placed in roughly the right area!

pencil free preparatory watercolour sketch

I enjoyed painting this one so much that I thought I try to do another one:

pencil free preparatory watercolour sketch

While there’s lots that I like about this one too, the height of the central figure does rather distract me!

What I like in both of these is the sense of immediacy, the energy of the brushstrokes and the lack of fuss in the background areas. Based on the success of these two sketches, I felt sufficiently emboldened to do something that I don’t think I’ve done in well over a year or more!

Before the pandemic turned our lives upside down, I was working towards a group exhibition where I knew that my space was limited. Because of this, I’d started to focus on painting on quarter imperial sized sheets and, even after the exhibition was cancelled, I just carried on painting at this size.

I’ve been painting at this scale now for so long now that I’ve become daunted at the prospect of painting at a larger scale. There was something about this subject, however, and no doubt the two studies played a large part, that propelled me to break out a half-sheet.

Here’s how I got on:

East 42nd Street – watercolour painting

Overall, I’m really pleased with how this interpretation worked out. I did do some very simple pencil outlines for this one, just to place the main elements but with no details to speak of. It was great to be painting large again – although I did have to have a word with myself about not fretting about the amount of paint I was using! Compared to my quarter sheets, I just seemed to be ploughing through pigment at a ridiculous rate!

Once I’d had a stern word with myself though, I was able to return to just enjoying the painting – and I hope that this shows in the results. Yes there are few things that niggle me about this (mainly the leaning lampost!) but what I do like is how the simplification of the buildings really helps to focus the attention on the people and the hustle and bustle of the crossing.

For my first half sheet in such a long time, I’m really pleased and already have my next one in mind. I’m also going to try to do at least one pencil free preparatory study too as I’m finding these such a valuable exercise in loosening up, helping to simplify the scene and really getting to understand the image and what I want to do with it.

Have I ever mentioned…

…that my paintings are for sale? I keep meaning to do more to promote the fact that my paintings are available to buy but, compared to actually painting, well it just doesn’t have the same appeal!

Perhaps this post could be the beginning of something bigger though!?

My paintings are for sale and, should anyone be interested in buying or enquiring, all anyone needs to do is to get in touch via any of the contact forms that can be found on any of my gallery pages or on my contact page.

I was thinking that I really should endeavour to do more on this front as I was mounting this painting, ‘The last days of summer’ to send to a collector in Scotland, where they really do know a thing or two about having to wrap up warm for those end of summer days on the beach!

It’s always a treat to be able to speak to a buyer and to understand what the connection is to a particular painting. In this instance, the buyer’s very familiar with the pebbled beach at Brighton but moreso, really identified with wrapping up warm to sit on a beach even when the weather’s far from glorious and to be able to enjoy each other’s company. It’s such a thrill when someone really ‘gets’ a painting and connects with it.

This was painted at the end of October and, seeing this again, there’s something about the way that everyone was spaced out that I think will always remind me of this particularly peculiar time!

There’s more information on how I painted this and how I achieved the texture on the beach on the original blog post should anyone be interested.

In the meantime, I’m delighted that this is winging its way to its new home and also tickled pink by how this painting has been received on Twitter, where the reaction has surpassed all imaginable expectations, making it my most successful tweet to date!

Thoughts on East 42nd Street, New York, watercolour painting

10 thoughts on “East 42nd Street, New York, watercolour painting”

    1. Haha – I’m so glad it’s not just me! The ridiculous thing is that I have loads of paint and paper so it’s not as if I’m in danger of running out! Thanks so much for commenting, I really appreciate it!

  1. ‘The last days of summer’ safely unwrapped in its new Scottish home! where we’re still waiting for the first days of summer.! Brrrrr……. but your lovely painting warms my heart as it just captures so much of my early beach life in Sussex. Thank you 🙏🏻

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