I found a little bit of Alsace in an Upper Manhattan treasure.
Last summer I visited the Unterlinden Museum in Colmar, France, and discovered a fascinating medieval cloister there. The sky-lit interior surrounded by stone arches and dark corridors provided just the type of light and shadow that I enjoy painting. However, I never did find the perfect composition to spend enough studio time with, so I was really pleased to recently find an even better one within the structure of The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Cloisters. With soft light and a glow similar to what I observed in Colmar, this museum was filled with international visitors enjoying a warm July afternoon.
It helps to fall in love with the subject when you know that you’ll spend several weeks painting it. I liked these two the moment I saw them. I do admit that I went to town with the old marble columns and the detailed clothing in the couple—I decided to push it so that they became one with the surface that they are sitting on. It was quite a challenge to keep all the form, shadows, light, and surface texture in balance. Maybe next time I will just paint the figure. But I was committed to this and really enjoyed the various components of the scene. It scared the heck out of me at first, but I learned that I need to simplify—geez. I suspect that I will look back at this painting a year or so from now and perhaps cringe, but that is the growth process of an artist. I am proud of this for now.
I will not wait decades to visit The Cloisters again, to take in the structures and the gardens and the surrounding Fort Tryon Park. It is a vacation in one’s own city.
Arches cold press, 300 lb, 21″ x 21″
This painting will be included in the Figuratively Speaking exhibition at the Salmagundi Club in NYC. February 19 – March 7.