After our workshop at Dillmans we went New York to rest and relax before two San Francisco workshops. We didn’t do too much resting and relaxing, but had a mighty week with Dane and Zoe, visiting bars, galleries and restaurants all over Brooklyn and Manhattan.

DSC07415Greenpoint mural

USA15640Black Cadillac


Metropolitan Ave

USA15253Dealers Merc

USA15946Brooklyn Mustang

USA15310New York Dolls


USA15576Murray’s Cheese Bar



USA15249Home Sick

DSC07448Under Williamsburg Bridge

USA15535$399 Divorce


USA15432Bridge across the Hudson

USA15502Manhattan Kindergarten

USA15539Brooklyn cat yard



USA15780Dome headed policemen


USA15891MOMA PS1 Retrospective – Xavier Le Roy

USA15805Time Square selfies


USA15593Birthday Beers

USA15538Brooklyn campervan





The last couple of weeks I’ve been locked in the studio finishing work on a book to be released early next year.

I got started on a couple of urban landscapes based on parts of New York. Early one morning I walked down under Brooklyn bridge. There was a lot of road work going on and huge trailers were lined up along a side street. They appeared to be accommodation for road workers – like a gypsy camp under the bridge. Big sections of road were fenced off and there seemed to be uncoordinated  people and machinery everywhere. So much activity in a city that doesn’t seem to stop, and I’m just rubbing the sleep out of my eyes – that’s where this first painting comes from.

This painting is based on the chaotic textures, bars, buildings and patriotism of East Village. Both paintings are a mix of watercolor, collage, Gouache, Gesso, ink and charcoal, built up in layers like the graffiti that lines many of the city’s walls.


One of the most amazing places in New York is the Museum of Modern Art. It houses an incredible collection of 20th century art, carefully selected and beautifully displayed. These are a few of my favorites.

This painting of Morocco by Henri Matisse is pared down to simple abstracted elements, perfectly balanced and unified by contrasting black marks. The color arrangement is simple and compressed and the repeating circular shapes carry the eye around the painting, echoing the confusion of, what appears to be, mid day Morocco. This confused movement is balanced and directed by the stripes and grids. Notice how the diagonal stripes in the top left lead the eye back into the painting, as does the grid at bottom center. I love the scattered, repeating yellows and the way he has tied the big slab of pink  to the rest of the painting by carrying it through to smaller marks to the left.

Another painting by Matisse, again the subject is reduced to simple abstract marks, beautifully arranged to lead your eye up to the focal point of fishbowl and lemon. Matisse has halted the strong upward movement created by the tapering diagonals with the two white horizontal marks behind the fish bowl. The eye then wanders out to other carefully placed fragments of  repeating warm colors before being drawn back to the focal point. The only curved lines in the painting are also arranged to hold interest around the focal point, circling it  like a cloud or thought bubble, and contrasting with the hard geometric shapes in the rest of the painting.

In this painting called “The Piano Lesson” Matisse depicts his son being watched over by his piano teacher as he practices in front of an open window. The scene is lit by candle light so Matisse has used a number of large grey shadow shapes to separate and intensify the muted colors. The color arrangement again is kept very simple – warm shapes concentrated at the bottom, being led down to by a stripe of pale warm orange. Matisse has placed this stripe of orange alongside it’s complimentary blue. By matching the tonal values of the parallel stripes, Matisse has created a strange shimmering effect that almost hurts to look at. As you follow these stripes down to the head of his son, the sharp dark wedge over one eye seems to confirm the strange optical effect.

The following four images are of small collage paintings by Kurt Schwitters. Beautiful arrangements of colored paper, cardboard and printed matter – they have an aged, weathered look about them but still seem fresh and vibrant.



Robert Rauschenberg “Bed” At first glance this painting just looks like a heavily textured Abstract expressionist  painting, but after a few seconds the heavily painted support sneaks up and hits you. According to the accompanying notes the bed was Rauschenberg’s. You wonder what wild dreams he had beneath these covers.


Uptown New York is where all the pointy bits are. One of the tallest buildings is the Rockefeller Center and for a few bucks you can rocket the 70 odd floors to the top and take in an amazing view of the city in all directions.

Another uptown attraction is time square. It has to be the most animated architecture in the world. Every facade facing the square is covered by massive screens. They pump a barrage of advertising images at, what seems to be, the entire 8 million inhabitants of the city packed into the pedestrian plaza.

There are some weird things in New York – here is a Policeman writing out a ticket for a horse.

Time Square movie shoot.

Occasionally you get a glimpse  of something that reminds you that America really is the Land of Milk and Honey.

Uptown window chef 2 (cake decorator).

Uptown window chef 1 (pretzel maker)

Scattered around the City of New York are hundreds of dead bicycles. You come across one on just about every street, and wonder why they have ended their lives chained to a city pole with rusting paint, flat tires and missing parts. Here are a few of the sadly neglected skeletons.

Leaving the uptown area and heading towards the Brooklyn Bridge there is some interesting graffiti. The elevated ramps give a great view of the surrounding roof tops  which, over the years, have accumulated an amazing coating of graffiti.


New York is a bit of a shock after twenty four hours in transit. Everyone seemed to be on full throttle and we were barely idling. We caught a cab from JFK Airport to our apartment in the city.

We were lucky enough to be a couple of doors from an amazing bar called Mono Mono, where they play analogue music 24 hours a day from a collection of over 30,000 jazz LP’s. What a great place to get over a long flight.

Mono Mono – the left hand wall is 12 shelves high, stacked with LP’s. A conveyor system circulates near 50 records at a time, around the ceiling and through the DJ’s booth, where an awesome sound is delivered through old valve amplifiers.

New York architecture is fantastic. Old brownstone buildings with external fire escapes and no elevators – no wonder there are a lot of skinny people in New York! Up and down six floors every time you want to go out would be hard work.

East Village,  has some mighty bars. We haven’t had a chance to visit this one yet, but it looks pretty interesting.

McSorleys Old Ale House is just around the corner from us. It is the longest continuously  running license in New York and inside looks as if it hasn’t changed since it was opened – sawdust covered floor, old wooden refrigerator and a collection of dust covered photographs and junk accumulated over the past 150 years. All they sell is their own ale – dark or light, and for some reason when you order one they give you two. No wonder they have been operating for 150 years.

Tucked down some of the side streets are some interesting shops. Trash and Vaudeville sold some bizarre fashions,  or they would be bizarre in any other city, but in New York nothing really seems bizarre.

Casual Sneakers

Comfortable walking shoes

In New York there is not a lot of car parking space so they stack them neatly,  one on top of the other.

Even the police cars are down sized so they can fit more on the streets.

When I was a kid, there was a story going around school, that if you dropped a penny from the top of the Empire State Building, it would embed itself inches into the concrete below. We walked right around the Empire State Building and, sadly, there were no embedded pennies.

The huge orange billboard in the center of the photo above (detail below) gives a constant readout of the number of tons of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. Its a pretty scary number especially when most people see it across the hood of a V8.

Maybe the billboard will change that? New York has a large fleet of hybrid Ford taxis.

If you dont want to drive, New York has to be one of the easiest cities to get around. The subway system is great, public transport is cheap, the streets are laid out in a logical grid and there are taxis everywhere.

The F train

It’s also flat and networked with bike paths, so riding a bike is a popular mode of transport.

We stopped to listen to this band in Penn Station. They were great, so I bought two of their CD’s. When we got back to our apartment I discovered one of the CD’s was made in 1998 – back when the guy playing guitar was just a little kid! Just shows, you shouldn’t get caught up in the excitement of the moment when you are visiting New York.

The cavernous, air conditioned Staten Island Ferry Terminal, providing free public transport to the people of New York. A pleasant contrast to the money making business the remains of  Australia’s  Public Government transport system has become.

Statue of Liberty and Helicopter

New York from the Staten Island Ferry

Brooklyn Bridge

Wall Street