22 Feb

Really Seeing NYC

Turns out travel doesn’t have to be international to inspire me to paint. This lesson apparently had to be relearned from the last time we spent a month in New York City, pre-pandemic. That resulted in a series of cityscapes, from Radio City to the Village. This time, we rented an apartment for January and it got my creative juices flowing.

The obvious things helped a lot, like going to a wide range of museums with dozens of very different approaches to creativity. At a Derain exhibit I saw his colorful boats and buildings, then got up close to see how he did it, as they dissolved into loose strokes and mark-making.  At a Tiffany exhibit I walked inside a kaleidoscope of color, feeling like a kid in a candy store. Other exhibits explained the creation of symbols and clothing, subways and skyscrapers. All inspired awe for people’s ingenuity and perseverance, as did several plays we saw.

Part of the joy, of course, is having the luxury of time to simply wander, soak up the city’s energy, and experience serendipity. Getting out of our comfortable routines stretches our brains. We walked for miles, seeing new sights every time. We discovered my husband’s new favorite coffee roasters, and the oldest chocolatier in the city, and even innovatively designed down bed pillows.

Best of all were those moments when I turned a corner and stopped in my tracks, thinking “I have to paint this!” For example, one night we were early for a dinner and wandering around downtown to kill time. Looking for City Hall, we found ourselves at the approach to the Brooklyn Bridge at dusk. A line of red tail lights led to the majestic towers, fully lit and absolutely stunning. After taking multiple reference photos, I’m excited to be back in my studio testing out ideas for a painting.



  1. We were just in NYC, and for a change we stayed in Brooklyn and only saw Brooklyn. And yet thanks to your post I can’t wait to see Manhattan again. In the meantime I look forward to your paintings.

  2. Yes, when we let our eyes wander, it is amazing how much we see. I did a couple of quick sketches from my NY trip–booked DC today for a couple of days to see the upcoming exhibits–women in France in the 20’s and 30’s at the National Portrait Gallery and Bonnard at the Philipps–and so much more–it’s wonderful how much we can pack in in just a few days. I’m looking forward to the paintings to come Beth–and I loved the Derain–it was such a thrilling exhibit.

  3. Fun post! Coincidentally I just talked to my brother Ken calling from NYC, there for the weekend from San Francisco. I hope you are well.

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