Thursday, September 23, 2010


This is my second submission for this months Virtual Paintout, Manhattan Island. This is located on the corner of 42nd Street & 7th Ave. The activity & colors caught my attention and I just wanted to paint a "city scene." The actual scene has quite a few vehicles in it (cars, buses, taxis) but I chose to leave them out of the painting - it would have made it too busy.

In keeping with my usual postings, where I write about the personal connection I have with the subject, I have to say that this particular scene is more about my dis-connect. I can pretty much travel anywhere in the city, without a map, as long as I am above-ground! However, put me below-ground, and I lose all sense of direction. My running joke (and it has happened in reality more than once) is "I get on the subway in midtown and the next thing I know, I'm in Queens!" 

Just look at all the letters and numbers posted on this station: N, Q, R, W, S, 1, 2, etc. Not all trains stop at all stations - not all lettered & numbered trains go the same way.  Is there a logic to these? I don't know, you tell me -- click here for a map of the NY system. Now that map may look easy to follow (easy??) BUT when you get underground, it is not color-coordinated, the announcements are muffled & illegible, there are more tracks than you can count on your fingers (and toes), and you basically have seconds to make your decision of what train you are getting on. Ok, ok - maybe it's not all that bad, but to my poor brain, it IS! Not to mention that one mistake can take you out of your way, and tack on another 30 minutes to your commute or travel times. 

Now, above ground, I can find my way. I know the East side vs the West side (dividing line is 5th Ave.) I know Upper vs Lower Manhattan (street #'s go up or down). And if you give me an address, I can tell you approximately where you can find it (lower address #'s are closest to 5th Ave, with #'s progressing outward. So 450 West 28th street will be on the West side, on 28th street and closer to the Hudson River & 10th Ave, while 15 West 28th Street will be closer to 5th Ave.  And 450 East 28th Street is closer to the East River  - completely cross-town from 450 West 28th street!)

So, bottom line, is yes - NY navigation can be confusing. And because things are happening so quickly, it is likely that you will make a mistake (I have walked East when I meant to go West, especially when it's 12 noon and the sun is straight above).  It's easy to exit a building, make a right & think you are going one way when, in fact, you're turned around! (Don't you just love it?!?)  But be careful when you take the subway. Double-check yourself before you get on any train -- or you just might wind up getting off in Queens when all you wanted was to go downtown!

Acrylic on 9x12 canvas


Virginia Floyd said...

Love your painting, Nancie. And love, love, love your story. I've visited NYC 2 or 3 times, even take the subway, but I had friends with me to help with navigation.

yasha said...

Nancie you did a commendable job with this one.The busy look of the street is well captured and loved the way you handled that many figures.

Erik said...

Beautiful painting Nancie.

Chelsea said...

Love it! And your organized blog with challenges separated to one side. I will have to organize mine a bit like this.

Nancie Johnson said...

Thank you all, glad you liked my Subway.

Virginia - you were lucky to have navigators with you on your visits.

yasha - thank you. I struggled with all those little people like you can not believe.

Erik - always appreciate kind words from you

Chelsea - I had to separate out the challenges. It got so that I couldn't find them!

Nancy Goldman said...

You never fail to amaze me with your paintings. The thought of putting one person in a painting scares me to death and look how many you did. I really like this painting.

Nancie Johnson said...

Thanks Nancy. I was pretty challenged with putting in those figures, I promise you. It may be a little while before I get so adventurous again!


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