I hit Bryant Park in NYC yesterday for the first time all year. I’ve wanted to get down there before now but the weather and my schedule didn’t allow it. It’s a small well kept park in the center of Midtown Manhattan and one of the things I like about it is that it has tables and chairs. Not the most comfortable tables and chairs but I can work at them. I can’t work on a typical park bench. Or picnic table.

I like to head into the city and work in the park every now and then just to get out of the house and work among the crowds. I take a local bus into the city that takes way too long. It takes an hour and twenty minutes to go twenty five miles. And now they just cut back on the bus schedule and raised prices. The new schedule has only one bus every hour. I might end up like everyone else and drive into the city. What is the point of slow and inefficient public transport? To get us to buy new cars and gasoline I would guess.

Figuring out what I was going to work on in the park was what I was having trouble with. I could just sit there and draw, as I have done before, but I find that a bit dull. I sometimes need more than a black marker or pencil when I’m in the park. I was also thinking about bringing some of the new tools I had purchased recently: markers, brush markers, and colored pencils.

I haven’t done much with these new tools since I bought them. I haven’t sussed out any kind of style or working method for them. I’ve worked with the same tools years ago and can still do what I used to do with them but that doesn’t interest me. I want to do something new with them. I also like to work with the surface of a piece of art and all of those tools go on flat and offer no surface. That could be the problem.

On Saturday morning I finally decided to bring my set of gouache paints. I used them in the park last year and enjoyed it. But I had no idea what to work on. I pulled out a big stack of half finished little (five by seven inch) gouache paintings to rummage through to see if anything interested me. Half finished stuff can give you an idea of in what direction to go.

I came across a few paintings of faces that I liked. I have no idea when I did them since they are undated. They are in a style that I only used for these three paintings. Sort of a mixing of transparent and opaque gouache in a painting that owed much to drawing and mark making. There was no modeling as I often do but color laid next to color. Plus no underdrawing. It was all spontaneously done with the brush. I packed up my paints and paper and headed to the park.

There were many people in the park that day since it was sunny and about eighty degrees. People were sunning themselves all over. Except on the lawn. The lawn was closed that morning. People respect the lawn being closed at Bryant Park. When the lawn is closed (usually after a good rain, a good dew, or if it’s been re-sodded) they put up a red rope that’s about a foot off the ground with “The lawn is resting” signs every now and again and every one stays off it. I find that a little amazing. When the lawn finally opened at 4 PM lots of people laid out their blankets and and basked in the sunshine.

I found myself a spot on the shady side of the park. It was less crowded than the sunny side and I like the shade anyway. My fair skin isn’t a fan of strong sunlight. Plus the shady side was busy enough for me.

I decided to do some drawing first because the improvised nature of the paintings I did originally was nice but hard to sustain. When dealing with painting a face there is only so much to be improvised. I lightly drew two sketches of faces on two sheets of five by seven inch watercolor paper. I still wanted to keep the painting free and open like the others so I left a lot of decisions to be made with the paint. Then I painted them.

It’s fun to work out in the open every now and again. It’s less comfortable and there are more distractions but sometimes distractions are a good thing. Most people leave me alone as I paint anyway. A few come up to see what I’m working on and that’s okay. The park is about interaction with other people.

Lots of people from other places are in the park. Being that Bryant Park is just off of Times Square you can hear lots of different accents and languages spoken. It’s a good place for tourists to take a break and have a seat for a little while as well as for locals to sun themselves. Or read a book.

The paintings came out alright. Not the best I have ever done but okay. I wouldn’t expect them to be the best since painting on those little tables while sitting in those little chairs isn’t easy. Still it is enjoyable. I even got a chance to indulge my photography habit as, after I painted, I went around the park taking pictures of people and things. Always fun. Of course that also leads me to believe I need a new camera. But that’s a whole other story.