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New York Commission

Commission by Emma Cownie

This is a commission piece I have been working on this week. The brief was to paint this beautiful sunlit New York apartment. I was sent a number of photos to work from, the plates and dishes had to vanish, so the main focus of the work was the light and shadow on the patterned table cloth.

A number of New York water towers could be seen outside. I was quite intrigued by these water towers. I had no idea that they were a feature of the Manhattan skyline. I looked up some more photos of these urban water towers and was quite blown away by how many there are!


NY Water towers

Sadly the water towers are not a big feature of the painting, but you can see two of them quite clearly from window on the right hand side of the painting.

Original photograph

I love the clean lines of the shadows cast by the window on the table and the parquet flooring and decided that clarity was essential in the composition. So I played around with the original image using an open source program called Gimp (which is a lot like Photoshop) and simplified the image. I “cleared” the table and removed the sleeping hound on the carpet. The resulting images was far from perfect but gave me a claener image to work from.

Empty Table
After  “Gimping” – an empty table

I further simplified the image by painting a plain rug. I also lighten certain parts of the painting, such as the wall behind the table. In this way I wanted to create a feeling of airiness and light.

New York Apartment, November Light
New York Apartment, November Light

I also lightened the red chair on the right hand side so that it could seen more easily seen and its beautiful curves more easily appreciated. This way it became an integral part of composition, with the red theme in the buildings on the left window, reddish shadows on the wooden flooring being balanced by the red carpet, chair and red in the painting above it.

The shadows have exciting dynamic to them; with the cool shad

ow across the table cloth contrasting with the hot shadows cutting across the floor. My favourite part of the painting was the slice of sunlight on the table leg.

The client, I am pleased to say, loved it. She was very generous in her praise, saying “it is more truthful, beautiful than real life!”

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