I told Mary Byrom that I was dropping out of 30 paintings in 30 days. (I have my first winter cold in years.) She suggested that I post five paintings in five days. Instead I’m going to give you five paintings on the fifth day of the week, all of odd ducks.
The smokestacks, above, belong to America’s last floating steam lighthouse tender. The restoration of the Lilac, built in 1933, was a pet project of my pal Amy Digi, and I tagged along with her one day to paint. Berthed as the boat then was, you could look at her from stem or stern but not from anywhere else.
I’ve painted the Queensboro Bridge many times, because it’s within schlepping distance of my friend Kristin Zimmermann’s apartment and there’s a Starbucks (read: restroom) nearby. The bridges of New York are always under repair, and the plywood and crane just added to the general feel of urban chaos.
A deluge drove me inside to paint at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine shortly after its disastrous fire in 2001. Since nobody stopped me, I set up near the altar. My work was interrupted by tourists wanting to pray for my salvation. They were surprised to learn that I was a follower myself. It was a beautiful moment of crossing paths in an unexpected place.
My kids loved our annual trip to Seabreeze Amusement Park in Rochester, NY. One year when they were old enough to wander around unsupervised, I painted the Tilt-a-Whirl. By looking away as soon as the cars had passed on their crazy, spinning path, I could retain enough information to commit to canvas. The people are a pastiche of different riders. I confess I had a headache by the time I was done.
Rochester’s High Falls is one of last remaining spill basins that once fed pro-glacial Lake Iroquois. (Niagara Falls is the other notable example.) It is on a true river, not a strait, so its water is often silted and solid-looking.
It has good vantage points, but it’s located in the center of the city, crowded by buildings in various states of disrepair and capped by a Conrail main line. On a late autumn day when the river is roaring, however, all that disappears into the background.