Painting and Playing in Washington Square Park

“All pictures painted inside in the studio will never be as good as the things done outside.” —Paul Cezanne (1839–1906)

Watercolors, Washington Square Park, Greenwich Village, Painting, En plein air, Washington Arch, Stanford White, Saxophone, Greenwich Village Walking Tour, New York University, Stanford White, Giuseppe Garibaldi

Painting en plein air in Washington Square Park.

It was a picture perfect day for painting pictures en plein air. It was warm, but not too warm; there was a light breeze blowing; the air had been cleared of its moisture during the night. As we finished this morning’s Greenwich Village Walking Tour we passed two women working in watercolor. The 1892 Washington Arch was behaving brilliantly as their model, not moving a stone.

Brilliant it was; as the south-facing side—the park facing side—was lit by the midday sun. It is clear why the architect of the arch, Stanford White (1853–1906) chose Tuckahoe white marble for one of his most lasting designs. The dazzling effect of the sunlight reflected from the marble burns an unforgettable image of the arch in the mind.

To make the scene complete, a saxophonist jammed nearby under the watchful gaze of Giuseppe Garibaldi.

Washington Square Park is alive at all hours of the day and night. As the front yard for New York University, it draws students to study, to sunbathe, and to socialize; as the center of the Village, it attracts the young at heart to paint, to make music, and to enjoy life!

Watercolors, Washington Square Park, Greenwich Village, Painting, En plein air, Washington Arch, Stanford White, Saxophone, Greenwich Village Walking Tour, New York University, Stanford White, Giuseppe Garibaldi

Painting the Washington Square Arch right under the sky and the trees.

“I don’t believe in making pencil sketches and then painting landscape in your studio. You must be right under the sky.” —William Merritt Chase (1849–1916)

Watercolors, Washington Square Park, Greenwich Village, Painting, En plein air, Washington Arch, Stanford White, Saxophone, Greenwich Village Walking Tour, New York University, Stanford White, Giuseppe Garibaldi

Painting the Washington Square Arch in watercolors.

“If I were in the government I would have a brigade of policemen assigned to keeping an eye on people who paint landscapes outdoors. Oh, I wouldn’t want anyone killed. I’d be satisfied with just a little buckshot to begin with.”
—Edgar Degas (1834–1917)

Watercolors, Washington Square Park, Greenwich Village, Painting, En plein air, Washington Arch, Stanford White, Saxophone, Greenwich Village Walking Tour, New York University, Stanford White, Giuseppe Garibaldi

Painting the Washington Square Arch in watercolors.

“I prefer every time a picture composed and painted outdoors. The thing is done without your knowing it.”
—Winslow Homer (1836–1910)

Watercolors, Washington Square Park, Greenwich Village, Painting, En plein air, Washington Arch, Stanford White, Saxophone, Greenwich Village Walking Tour, New York University, Stanford White, Giuseppe Garibaldi

This saxophonist jams at this spot regularly.

“Don’t play the saxophone. Let it play you.”
—Charlie Parker (1920–1955)

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