No. 4: Favorite Views from Home
A painting, the light from a bedroom window, a tree, and the city in the distance
We live in a typical prewar apartment in Brooklyn. The building is old enough that the plumbing can’t support laundry in each unit, so we have to go down to the communal laundry room to do our wash. We have been in the apartment for fifteen years now, and it is primarily because of the light and the location that we have not moved. We can see the East River and Lower Manhattan from our windows. We benefit from the quiet Brooklyn Heights streets as much as we do the excitement and bustle of DUMBO (Brooklyn’s trendy warehouse district, where my studio is located) on the weekends. The apartment is small for four adult-sized humans (even small for three, since our older son left the coop in September), but we stay, we tolerate the old plumbing, and we appreciate our quiet little nook in the big city.
There is a specific spot in our apartment that reminds me why I love it here. Our bedroom is the most “old New York” room in the apartment. A radiator has been removed from under the window, leaving a stained and poorly patched area of flooring. Out the window is the view described above but a little bit obscured by the steps and metal railings of the fire escape. The walls are cracked and have been spackled over so many times that nothing is perfectly level, and the paintings don’t lay flat against the wall. We cover the worst wall with a very large still-life painting that I inherited from my great aunt Elsie Manville after she passed away. We have a lot of her work in our apartment, but this one is my favorite. It is directly across from our bed, with a closet door to its right and the window a few feet away to the left. There is something about the way the light shines in from the fire escape window, especially in the late afternoon, that makes this view itself a work of art.
I have photographed our younger son looking out the window so many times that I now have a visual chronicle of his life and growth in the apartment (we moved here right before he was born).
I have tried to paint the scene, just once, and I love the way it turned out. But I have always thought that some things are better communicated through photography. This scene specifically because my great aunt’s painting is so lovely, I don’t feel I can do it justice within a painting of my own. As you can see, I only painted a small portion of her work in my piece. (You might recognize the artwork from my previous post on doorknobs.)
Outside the front door of our building, across the street, there’s a tree, a view of the city, and some benches. It’s another view that will never get old and that I have photographed and painted many, many times. This scene is so easy to photograph through all of the seasons, from the tree in full leaf, partially obscuring the cityscape, to a completely bare canopy, with snow all around creating an almost black-and-white scene without having to convert the image to black-and-white.
Do you have a favorite view in your home or through a window? Is there a window that creates interesting shadows when the light shines in? As always, if you find this inspiring, and choose to try drawing or painting a scene from your home, please do share with me! Try to use your entire page, and have your scene or subjects fall right off the edges. You can even use a viewfinder, which is a very useful tool to have in your supply kit!
Subscriber Giveaway! I am going to randomly select two people on my mailing list to receive a special gift. I’m so thankful for the support I’ve received while switching over to this new space to share thoughts and my work. A giveaway is a small token of my gratitude. I wish I could send something to everyone, but choosing randomly is the most doable and fair option. On Monday, February 13, be on the lookout for an email from me. You will only be emailed if selected. One portion of the giveaway (my favorite paints and brushes) is open to everyone on my list, and the other (a handmade sketchbook) will go to a paid subscriber.
A New Workshop! Next week I will be sharing a link for a live workshop happening in DUMBO, Brooklyn, in March. I will be co-teaching with my friend Nishant Jain of. We are really excited to offer this unique opportunity while he is back in Brooklyn visiting family. Be on the lookout for all of the information, as spots will be limited.
Any laundry woes I might have are a drop in the bucket compared to what people are dealing with in the earthquake zone in Turkey and Syria. We can all make a tiny difference by donating any amount to the funds listed here.
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