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Carroll Street Bridge 9-8-2013Carroll Street Bridge – Work in Progress


This is dedicated to my brother who does not read my blog.

The players:
Rob, my brother.
Steve, my very successful cousin who started a business then, planning his exit strategy early, sold it for a bazillion dollars.
Ryan, my nephew who started a business a few years ago and has been very successful to date.
The Scene:  
In a living room at a party.  The three characters are standing around talking.
Rob just reached his 20th anniversary with GE.
Steve to Ryan:
How’s the business going?
I’m doing very well.  My business is growing
Good for you. What’s your exit strategy?
I’m not sure yet.
You have to start thinking about that now.
Hey Rob,  what have you been doing?
I’ve worked for the same company for 20 years.
Yeah…. My exit strategy is death

The End

I started this watercolor to celebrate the reopening of the Carroll Street Bridge, one of only two retractable bridges in NYC.  The other being the Borden Avenue Bridge in Queens.  It was built in 1889 and from the NYTimes:  ‘This relic of the late 19th century, which today connects Carroll Gardens with Park Slope, is not just one of the oldest of New York City’s 25 movable bridges, but also one of its quirkiest. As in a quaint New England covered bridge, its deck is made of thick boards, making it the city’s only wooden bridge that carries cars. The approaches are lined with cobblestones, many of them laid in 1889 when the bridge opened. It even features an old sign that warns: “Any Person Driving over this Bridge Faster than a Walk will be Subject to a Penalty of Five Dollars For Each Offence.” ‘  If you’re interested in bridges, you can read about it here.

watertower on masa 7-27-13Carroll Street water tower – 101/2 ” by 14″ – watercolor on Masa Paper

June was one of the wettest on record here in NYC.  I think it rained every day.  July was one of the hottest with temps in the 90’s and with the humidity making it feel like it’s in the 100’s.  And don’t even get me started on what it feels like down on the subway platforms.   I feel like I’ve been damp (a nicer word than sweaty) for two months.  Apparently you can’t use the word moist since a study showed that people HATE that word.  I never had a problem with moist especially when it’s paired with the word “cake”.

Well, I guess I’m mad for masa now.   I so enjoyed the first one I did here that I immediately started a second one.

Watertower on masa first wash 7-27-13

Here’s what it looked like after I toned the masa paper, drew the image and laid down the first washes.

I’ve already got another piece toned and ready to go.   Using the masa paper and toning it first is allowing me to be freer with colors.  Once the paper is toned you now must work with the toned paper and sometimes colors aren’t where you’d expect them to be since you are toning the back of the paper.

Speaking of colors, did you know that the definition of vermillion is?

a strong red that is deeper than geranium, yellower and deeper than geranium red, and bluer and deeper than average cherry red

How did I know that?  I was looking something up on the merriam-webster on-line dictionary and came across 10 definitions of colors. Now really, would you describe vermillion that way?   It almost sucks the life out of the color!

And for no reason, here’s a picture of my dog.

Kaiya 7-27-13And finally, why is the spacing all screwed up my my posts?   I have paragraph spacing, but when I post it all bunches up.  Ugh!  Anyone have any suggestions on how to fix it?

Parking lot – WIP on 1/2 sheet of 140 # Arches cold press

I started this in the style of Tim Saternow whose workshop I took back in March of this year.   I started with a grisaille  (monochromatic painting in Paynes Gray) which is here:

There is still more work to do. I jumped ahead many steps too fast so this may end up in the “it was a good idea at the time” pile.  But all is not lost as I did learn what not to do.  Which often is as important as what to do.

I saw Rhonda was working on a portrait all in paynes gray which was pretty cool and you can see it here.

The image above is where we park our car.  Which is about 3 blocks from where we live.  And don’t even ask what we pay for that spot in an outdoor lot 3 blocks away, BUT, it is SO worth it when you come home and have to drive around the block for 45 minutes before something opens up.   The Husband says it’s almost time to move.  But WHERE?   Any suggestions?

Is anyone else sick of the Olympics?  Damn overachievers.

Greenwich Street Garbage WIP 1/2 sheet 140 lb Arches Cold Press

Where does the time go?  This is a work in progress painting of the garbage piling up on Greenwich Street after one of the blizzards last winter.  Not this winter.  This winter we had spring.  Not that I’m complaining.  I’m sure I will start complaining this summer when it’s hotter than the fires of Hades and I’m in the subway.  But that’s for another post.

I would like to discuss living outside of NYC.  The husband is making noises along those lines.  And I am sad to report that my dog-walking buddy Charlie and his wife Liz are moving to Maine.   Far, far up in Maine.  I keep asking “what will you do up there?”   I don’t get a straight answer. They don’t seem to have any worries.  Of course I have plenty.

Did you know there are 8.3 million people in NYC and only 1.3 million in the whole state of Maine.   There are only 303 square miles in the NYC (all 5 boroughs!), compared to 35,000 square miles in the state of Maine.   That’s plenty of space for the boogy man or the ax murderer to hide.  And what about moose and bears? I’m torn between being bombarded with “interaction fatigue” from so many people in NYC and not liking wide open spaces with no one around.

I remember one time when the husband and I stayed at my sister’s house in Putnam County which is about 1 & 1/2 hours from my apartment.  I consider that the country, though I’m sure anyone else would consider it a suburb.  Anyway,  the Husband and I went to bed and  had the windows open.   It was a lovely cool night.  Until the noise started.  The husband was asleep as soon as his head it the pillow, but I was kept awake by all these spooky sounds.   Frogs, crickets, ax murderers, who knows.  It was loud.  I nudged the Husband and asked him “what’s that noise?”  No answer.  I nudged him again…”What Is That Noise?”   Snore.  A third time “Matt, what is that noise?”   Annoyed he finally turned over, looked at me and yelled “IT’S NAYCHA”.

I do not like “Naycha.”

Maybe Charlie is a secret doomsday prepper and that’s why he’s moving to Maine?   I wonder if he’s waiting for the end of the world as predicted by the Mayans or the super Yellowstone volcano to finally blow?   I’m staying here. Garbage doesn’t scare me as much as Naycha.

Art Glass plate

I was able to leave work early today, ran down the subway and amazingly got a seat.  We had gone one stop when the conductor announced that there were extreme delays due to “police action” at Atlantic Ave. Oy. I get a bit claustrophobic sitting in a subway that’s not going anywhere so I left the subway and had a LOVELY walk over the Brooklyn Bridge.

As usual, the City is filled with tourists.   And after I noticed that, I further noticed that tourists are tourists no matter where they are.  They stop, they stare, they speak in funny languages and you know what,  they got me to appreciate the City that I live in.  Perhaps I would never have stopped to look at skyline of lower Manhattan or the sun glistening on the East River. But I did.  And it was good.  Perhaps somewhere there is a Croatian stopping to look at Diocletian’s Palace in Split with a new eye.

The “new age” portion of the blog has now ended.

Here’s 3 Broadway musicals I have seen recently.  I reviewed three here.  Now here’s 3 more.  Take note if you’re coming to NY and want to catch a show.

1.  Sister Act – a fun feel-good musical that will have you singing along and tapping your toes.  The story is essentially the same as the movie, but the music is different.  Wimples, stained glass, a giant statue of Mary and lots and lots of sparkle and glitter make this show fun for the whole family.   I probably would NOT pay full price for this, but if you can get 1/2 price or discount tickets, I would recommend it.

2.  Spiderman –  This show, to put it bluntly, SUCKED.   Do not waste your time or your money.  That’s 3 hours I will never get back.  My show-going pal Kung (who sees everything on Broadway and off-Broadway) and I actually discussed whether or not we should leave at intermission.  We decided to stay in case “something happened” and indeed it did. Spidey missed a connection whilst flying over the audience and was left hanging there.  A disembodied voice told us there were technical difficulties, the  actors singing on stage just walked off and the stagehands had to come, unclip Spidey and reset the whole gizmo flying thing.  I’m sorry, but when people are paying over $100 per ticket (not me, but that’s what they go for) I expect a professional performance.  The whole rest of it sucked too.  SKIP SPIDERMAN!

3.  The Book of Mormon –  The hottest ticket on Broadway.  I laughed, I cried and I ran out and bought secret underwear.  It was completely rude, crude, vulgar and absolutely fabulous.  Ben Brantley said it way better than I:    DO NOT BRING THE KIDS!   And if you are sensitive to foul language & obscene gestures this may not be the show for you.  But it most certainly was the show for me.  LOVED IT!

This concludes the public service portion of this post.

The piece above was another plate in a series I did.   I am currently working on more coasters like the ones I did here.  I really do enjoy making these although they are extremely time-consuming.

I’ll end with a few pictures from Croatia.  (The Husband took close to 900 photos and I took over 1,000.  We are still sorting through them!)

Garlic and Peppers in the Market

The walled “Old Town” of Dubrovnik

Plitvice Lakes

The crystal clear blue water of the Adriatic!

 City Hall Park – watercolor on 140# Arches Cold Press  approx. 19″ x 14″

A Bayonne, NJ hospital now has billboards that advertise the wait time for being seen in their emergency room.  When I saw the story on the news the billboard said the wait time was 7 minutes.  After I laughed so hard I had to be rushed to my local emergency room, I came home 3 days later and thought   “Why can’t anyone in NYC be seen in any sort of reasonable time in an emergency room?”

Here is a true story:  One time, a New York City Police Officer who will not be named, had a drug-addict prisoner who needed attention and was taken to a NYC Emergency room.  While waiting,  a man came in, slit from ear to ear and bleeding heavily.  He was given a large amount of gauze and told to press it against his neck and wait.  Why?  Three gun shot-victims were on their way in and they were going to be seen first.

So, if you have any bones broken, need stitches in an area that is not life threatening or are coughing up a lung be prepared to sit for at least 5 hours.   You may also be entertained for 5 hours, but that really is a sort of specialized area of entertainment.   Best to drive to N.J. and be seen there.  Sad state of affairs indeed.

This has nothing to do with the painting above, which is of City Hall Park.  This is a beautiful little oasis in lower Manhattan and is aptly named because it is right in front of City Hall.   In the spring there are cherry blossom trees and tulips.  Once the summer arrives there is a lovely fountain which is seen on the left side of the painting.  In the fall the fountain is shut down and beautiful fall colored plants fill the space.  It’s a wonderful spot to sit, relax, people watch and take a moment in a very busy City.  Just don’t hurt yourself there.  You’ll spend hours and hours at the local emergency room.  Word!

This week both Passover and Easter occur during the same week.  So whichever holiday you celebrate, may it be a happy one.  And if you don’t celebrate either of these holidays, may you have a wonderful week.

Sneakers  – Arches 140 lb coldpress

OMG!  I am so not a camping person.  Actually I have never camped in my life.   And I plan to keep it that way.

But last Saturday at my sister’s we were having a swell time, planning to spend the evening drawing and working on art projects when suddenly BAM! the power went out.

Unbeknownst to me, up there when the power goes out you also don’t have water (she has a well with a pump that, you guessed it, runs on electricity.)   You may have guessed it, but I didn’t have a clue.  We also couldn’t cook since she has an electric stove. No heat, no running water, no working toilets and no lights.  (And boy was it cold.)


But no, I stayed.


I kept thinking the power would come back on.  It never did and then it was too late to drive home.  So I slept, in my clothes, with 7 hand warmers in the bed with me.    As soon as it was daylight I hightailed it out of there faster than you can say “D TRAIN” and didn’t relax until I saw the Projects, um I mean Urban Developments, when I hit the city line in the Bronx.

To comfort myself from my traumatic experience, I’m posting this cityscape.  I feel calmer already.

What’s up with sneakers being thrown on the power and telephone lines.  I’ve heard lots of stories about what it means, but have never heard one that really sounded true.   I always figured it was kids just goofing around.   Anyone have any ideas?

The color is a little off on the photo above.  Damn camera.

Next week:  What’s up with those plastic bags stuck in trees?

Water tower with graffiti.  Approx. 14″  x 21 ” on Arches 140# cold press paper

I find the criss-cross of NY buildings make interesting shapes, along with the water towers, vents, pipes, graffiti and iron work.  The husband has many opportunities to photograph quite a number of  buildings all over the City, but mostly in Brooklyn.  Many of the old buildings have now been turned into “luxury condos”  That, apparently, is the only adjective that can be used with the noun “condos”.  Luxury.  I long to see a sign that says “adequate condos”.

I believe I may have a theme going here and will continue with these buildings/water towers/cityscapes. (Until I decide to do something else.) Just like Stephen and his “pipe” series.  (The Pipe is a beach in South Africa.  I hope to visit someday as I’ve seen so many versions of it I feel like I’ve already been there.)

On another note,  here’s a picture of something I hadn’t seen before,  A man completely covered with cans.  The husband shot this photo before the “can- man” hopped on his unicycle and rode away.  He was spotted under the “el” in Williamsburgh.  (The “EL” is an elevated subway line.)  Was he making a political statement about recycling?  A fashion statement?  Or was this just the easiest way for him to get his cans to the recycling center for nickels?  I’m guessing he’s wearing about $5.00 worth of cans. Whatta you think?

Moving on…..   The sketchbook project!   Here’s what I’ve done so far.  The paper is super thin, so I’ve been working on other paper and then gluing that paper into the book.  Sometimes it can get a little messy.  You can see what I’ve done so far here:

And if you want to see another sketchbook in progress, here’s Alex’s (Pencil Scribbles)

If you’ve done anything for your sketchbook, please send me your link or become my friend on the website.  If you don’t know how to set up your profile and upload your photos, just ask.  I’m a pro now that Alex told me how to do it.  🙂

Chelsea water towers 20 3/4″  x 13 1/2″ on 140# arches cold press

Water towers are an iconic image of New York City.    They can be seen everywhere.   Just look up and there they are.  But don’t walk and look up at the same time or you may just walk into traffic and we wouldn’t want that.

Sorry I didn’t get to respond to many of you who so kindly commented on my previous post.   A kidney stone, urinary tract infection and then a major reaction to the antibiotics I took for the infection kicked my butt.  I was out of it for almost 3 weeks.    Green, as a skin color, does not become me.  I’m much better now, thank you very much.

The one thing I did learn from the last three weeks is I do not drink enough water.  I am forcing myself to drink more, although sometimes I feel like I’ve had the equivalent of the amount of water in these 3 tanks.  (And that’s a lot of water.)

I’m off now to drink some H20.   I think I’m growing gills.

I was so enchanted by Leslie’s people that I decided to give it a try too.   They were fun and came out ok, until I added a background. How many people do you know who are as tall as a building?   Clearly I need more practice in the people department.

Sometimes I wonder why I’m really not that interested in doing portraits or paintings of figures.  I have come to the conclusion that it’s because I am surrounded by a crush of people all day long.  I am pushed and pulled and squeezed and pressed on the subway.  (And not in a good way.) I have people calling me and coming to see me at work all day long.  And then when I go outside for lunch the streets are packed with people.

Today I was accosted by no less than 4 people in less than one block.   ASPCA: Do I care about animals? Greenpeace: Would I want to sign a petition. Gulf Oil Spill: Can I help?  I don’t remember what the 4th one was but all I wanted to do was get a sandwich and go back to my office. Give a girl a break!

A number of years ago (before caller ID) a friend and her family moved to a new town.  It seemed like every night the phone rang during dinner.  It was always a telemarketer.  And every night her patient husband answered the phone and politely listened.  Finally one night, the phone rang, as usual her husband answered and politely listened.  She grabbed the phone and yelled “we’re not interested” and slammed the phone down.  Her husband leveled a cool gaze at her and said “that was the pastor of the church we just joined.”   Oops.

I did the figures above which looked ok.   I needed to practice more.

So I did.

I did this one next.  Which I liked much better.  Only thing, you can’t see the person off to the side about to ask this person to sign a petition for Greenpeace.


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