Artist Caroline Karp walking in the rain in Midtown on the Avenues of the Americas through an art installation.

Enlightened Artist Blog: En Plein Air Painting in NYC…

Artist Caroline Karp Walking through an art installation on a rainy day in front of Nicholai's building located on the Avenue of the Americas in Manhattan.
Walking through an art installation on a rainy day in front of Nicholai’s building located on the Avenue of the Americas in Manhattan.

Keep your eyes to yourself! It was the first thing I noticed when I hopped on the subway in Manhattan. Why did everyone all the sudden turn into this collective person who stared blankly into the distance? So much hustle and bustle… so noisy and so hectic. Such a mixture of people from all over the globe with the same message. Keep to yourself and make no connection with those around you. Well, I decided to change that energy and connect with the Manhattan community by En Plein Air painting in NYC – right in the middle of the hustle and bustle!

Nature in a thriving metropolis

Sebastian and I traveled to NYC to visit Nicholai who now is working in Midtown Manhattan. When I came out of the subway I immediately looked for the beauty in the city. I, of course, was attracted to the juxtaposition of nature and the man-made city structures…just as I had been in Georgetown, DC. Read my Georgetown Experience Blog here.

In the middle of the city is the beautiful Central Park. This will be painted and part of my Empire Series.

I found this magnificent juxtaposition most everywhere! Central Park. The Chelsea HighLine. The tip of Manhattan where you can see the waters of the East River and Hudson River meet. Bryant Park, right next to the famous “Between the Lions” Library. It’s a very happening place with activities for the young, old and in between. (Ping pong, art activities, storytelling and a reading area for children.)

Painting on the Chelsea HighLine

On my first day in the city I met an artist who had all his supplies available on the Chelsea High Line. Thus my first experience En Plein Air Painting in NYC and the creation of this mini painting. (The first in my Empire Series.) It represents the juxtaposition of the nature of the High Line with the tightly packed buildings surrounding all the 7 plus million people in Manhattan. So daunting a number compared to the 13,000 people in my town of Safety Harbor. (Here is an article about the Public Art Project.)

Artist Caroline Karp shows her small painting that was inspired by painting on the HighLine in Chelsea, Manhattan.

This first mini painting inspired me to find Michael’s art supply store in the city because I had the vision to paint a series of 16 yoga mat shaped canvases that were each 4×12 inches. I chose that shape because I wanted these paintings to bring a feeling of meditation and serenity to the viewer. I know that when I’m on my mat I can go inside myself and make those connections.

Painting from the rooftop and in the park

The first place I found to paint was on the rooftop of the place I was staying in the Finacial District of Manhattan. There was a nice big table, a spectacular view and a comfy place to spread out. I was so lucky to have Sebastian there as my videographer. 

Quick timelapse video #1: painting from the rooftop in the Financial District in Manhattan

I lined up the 16 canvases and sketched the skyline with a paintbrush and black paint. I realized that it would be important to number the canvases and then decided to leave the numbers as part of the composition. The small yoga mat shaped paintings are easy to transport because they are stackable.

Quick timelapse video # 2: blocking in the colors

I completed the 16 pieces in Midtown’s Bryant Park which inspired me to add the trees and blasts of colors. You can watch these quick videos to see the painting take shape. The edges are painted in shimmering gold to represent gold bricks.

Blue Ribbon Delivery

I did have to use some problem-solving skills to finish the edges of the paintings AND not get paint on the park table. Here was my solution – stacking them in a cross-hatched fashion. I think it is so important when painting En Plein Air not to leave drops of paint on anything. My experience as an early childhood teacher helps with this and when dry the paintings fit nicely into a canvas grocery bag for transport to their new home – Dentons Global Law Firm.

I call the pic The Golden Stack. It shows all the canvases drying after their edges were painted gold and right before Blue Ribbon Delivery.
I call the pic The Golden Stack. It shows all the canvases drying after their edges were painted gold and right before Blue Ribbon Delivery.
16 canvas painting of a New York skyline
What the 16 canvas painting looks like installed on the wall of a law office in Midtown, Manhattan. (Dentons Global Law Firm)
In this pic you can get an idea of the scale of the piece.

You may wonder how I “schlep” all of my art supplies around the city. To get a glimpse how, read my blog about traveling with art supplies. I will add that the checkout lady at the Michaels in Manhattan showed us a trick to make a bag with a handle that can be worn like a backpack.

This is not the end of the story

You will need to wait until a future Enlightened Artist Blog post to learn more about what happened when my flight was canceled. I stayed for 2 more days!! In the meantime, I’d love to hear about any similar adventures that you have had. Leave a note to me in the comments below.

Did you know that I have a huge inventory of artwork available?

Check out my gallery and choose an original painting that you love… many of them are done En Plein air. Also to look at some other artists that paint En Plein Air you can read the article below.

En Plein Air Painting on the HighLine… by commissioned artists.