I've been working on a new New York painting for a few days now and working from two photos I took in a Greenwich Village restaurant. I love what's happening but it's making me nervous because it's a bit different from what I've been focusing on for the last year. This painting is long and narrow, measuring 20 x 40 inches (my favourite canvas size these days) and it's the first time in many many years, maybe even 17 years I would say, that I am including real portraits as an important part of a painting.
There are five people in the image: four women sitting at a bar and a bartender standing behind it but the perspective of the composition comes from across and behind the bar, where I was sitting: more or less from the bartender's perspective. I was thinking of removing one of the women but this might weaken the composition so I probably won't. Because of the scale of it all, their faces are large enough that I'm actually painting their portraits. (That's the scary part!) It's so neat to get back to that. I never really know how each person's face will turn out but so far, even though none of them are finished, I'm pretty happy with them. As usual, I'm struggling with my dark underpainting taking over and remaining prominent in what I had hoped would be an almost-finished portrait. We'll see. I also don't want too much detail and to some extent I do like the dark lines coming through. It's how I seem to paint everything.
My favourite part of the painting is and will probably remain the right third of the image: the back-lit, sun-lit bar filled with rows of glasses and wine bottles and plenty of bottles of Scotch right in the front row of it all. I just LOVE how light reflects and moves through glass. I am able to find so many different colours in this area and I'm just loving popping hints of all of those colours (even plenty that really aren't there but they're exciting to put in) in among the bottles.
Back to work! I have taken a few photos with my cell phone (very poor camera in it) of this work in progress.
And here it is, done!