Lima, Peru for Virtual Paintout October 2013

Lima, Peru, ink and watercolor from Google Streetview, 4x5 in

Lima, Peru, ink and watercolor from Google Streetview, 4×5 in

I love doing the Virtual Paintout, strolling around a city in Google Streetview and picking a scene to paint. This sketch is a preliminary study for an oil painting  still in progress. The location is Nicolas de Pierola and Jr. Cańete Streets in Lima, Peru. Here’s a link to the map: http://goo.gl/maps/hQdsp.

Below is the original screenshot plus a few other streetview pictures from around Lima. Although the city looked very beautiful, I’m often drawn to funkier parts of town.

Le Clemenceau, French Riviera (Virtual Paintout)


Le Clemenceau, French Riviera, oil on board, 6x6"

Le Clemenceau, French Riviera, oil on board, 6x6"

Six inches is just too small! I chose a 6×6″ panel for this project because I thought I’d just do something quick for Virtual Paintout and then get on with my “real” painting projects. But I end up putting just as much work into this small painting as I would a big one.

When it was “finished” I kept seeing one more little thing to adjust until suddenly it was 7:00 p.m. and it was too late to go to my REAL paintout/sketch group. And I had paint all over my hands because I’d taken off my gloves when I thought I was done an hour before.

What’s important is that I had fun and as with every painting, learned something. And I got to spend some time “on” the Cote d’Azur. Wow is that place spectacularly beautiful and loaded with wealth, from what I could see wandering around on Google Streetview. Here is the original scene on Streetview.

Cape Town Company Gardens (Virtual Paint-Out)

Capetown Company Gardens, South Africa, oil on panel, 9x12"

Capetown Company Gardens, South Africa, oil on panel, 9x12"

During a very rainy week it’s been wonderful to have this sunny view to paint from Google Street View for Virtual Paintout‘s March location of Cape Town, South Africa. It will be interesting to see how (and hopefully if) my winter practice with landscape painting in oil carries over to painting real landscapes outdoors. Now that the rainy season seems at last to be over I will soon find out!

A note about the color in the photo: despite my best efforts, I couldn’t get the foreground shadow on the path to perfectly match the color in the painting which is a little more purple and a little less bright.

Here’s the original Google Streetview image:

Google Streetview image: Capetown

Google Streetview image: Capetown

If you’re interested in the actual location, just click here for the map. And if you’d like to purchase this painting for $100, just click here.

Capetown South Africa: Virtual Paintout

Table Mountain View, Cape Town. Oil on 5x7" panel.

Table Mountain View, Cape Town. Oil on 5x7" panel.

This month’s Virtual Paintout is in Cape Town, South Africa. What a beautiful country! I needed a project I could complete in an hour or two so I chose a simple scene and a small panel to paint on (5×7″).

But I think I spent as much time tooling around South Africa on Google Streetview than I did painting.  And tonight I had such a hard time getting the color right in the photo (the sky in the painting isn’t turquoise, it’s a warmer blue) that I’ve probably spent an equal amount of time trying to fix the photo and get this blog post finished!

So I will let it be. As my boss always says, “…good enough for jazz!” She knows I can be a perfectionist and has taught me that little mantra so that I don’t get stuck finessing one little thing while all the other work stacks up.

Here’s the original photo from Google Streetview:

Cape Town Milner Road, Southern Suburbs

Google Street View: Cape Town Southern Suburbs

Rio de Janeiro: Virtual Paintout

Rio de Janeiro, oil on panel, 8x8"

Rio de Janeiro, oil on panel, 8x8"

This month’s Virtual Paint-Out location is Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Since I seldom travel I find it so much fun to do so virtually via Google Street View. I love being able to wander, exploring roads to see where they go without fear of getting lost (let alone dealing with airports or spending the money).

Here’s the way the scene looked on Google and then the way I cropped and the way I adjusted it in Photoshop.

Original Google Street View, Rio

Original Google Street View, Rio

Rio Photoshopped for painting

Rio Photoshopped for painting

As I do these each month I’ve noticed patterns in the way nicer houses and neighborhoods are near beaches or on top of hills and the poorer neighborhoods are indeed on the wrong side of the tracks.

I’ve also noticed a sense of freedom when painting these since I don’t have so much investment in the outcome. And maybe that’s what led to my liking most of my Virtual Paintout paintings more than the ones I’ve labored over.

Bleecker Street, Greenwich Village, NY (Virtual Paintout)

Bleecker and Sullivan Streets, New York; Oil on Panel, 8"x10"

Bleecker and Sullivan Streets, New York; Oil on Panel, 8"x10"

When I saw that this month’s Virtual Paintout was taking place in Manhattan, I wanted to paint the Lower East Side tenement where I lived when I made my big move to New York City from San Diego, California at the age of naive and tender age of 19, chasing my dreams.

I couldn’t find the building where I lived on East 13th Street between Avenue A and B (possibly torn down and replaced by a small community garden) using Google Street View but I could see that now it’s fluffy with foliage and yuppified with yoga studios. There were no gardens or trees on East 13th Street when I lived there, just trash cans, junked cars and the occasional group of men playing dominoes on card tables in front of their storefront church downstairs or throwing dice on the corner by the drug store.

East 13th Street between Ave. A & B, 1969

East 13th Street between Ave. A & B, 1969

Next I looked for my favorite Greenwich Village cafe back then: the historic Le Figaro Cafe (New York Times article) which survived 50 years before closing down in 2008. It had famously been the haunts of Bob Dylan, Lenny Bruce, Dave Van Ronk, and Jack Kerouac.

During that year in NYC, I visited Le Figaro weekly for a little taste of home: their California Burger contained actual lettuce and tomato, unlike all other NYC burgers that were just bun and meat.  They also served great espresso that you could sip while playing chess or people watching. (Although to be honest, at 19 I was more interested in their ice cream floats than espresso.)

I couldn’t find Le Figaro so I painted the next corner, Bleecker and Sullivan, which interested me as a subject. It turns out I gave up looking too soon, because in writing this post I actually found the remains of Le Figaro on Google Street View:

Le Figaro Cafe

Le Figaro Cafe, Bleecker and MacDougal, NYC

Tie-Dye on Telegraph: Virtual Paintout Berkeley

Telegraph Avenue Tie-Dye, ink & watercolor

Telegraph Avenue Tie-Dye, ink & watercolor, 4.5x6"

This month the San Francisco Bay Area is the locale for the Virtual Paintout (we paint from a Google Maps street view image). At first I was disappointed; I live in the Bay Area so I wouldn’t get to explore new territory like last month when we painted Corsica.

It seemed a little silly to paint from a map picture instead of from life but having just spent the afternoon on Telegraph Avenue, it seemed a natural subject. This tie-dye T-shirt stand is practically a permanent fixture on the corner of Telegraph and Bancroft.

Although it’s right across the street from the University of California Berkeley campus, I don’t think I’ve seen a student wearing tie-dye since around 1975. Even old hippies don’t wear tie-dye anymore. So who buys these things?

I felt like painting in oils, but watercolor seemed a better medium for this subject. So I printed out the image (which I cropped from the original Google snapshot) and then sketched and painted the scene in my sketchbook. Here’s the original map and image on Google.

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