Elliot Appel shares his portfolio filled with scenes from New York City. Enjoy, and see more from this talented artist by visiting his website.
I am a self-taught artist born and raised in New York City. The city is my inspiration. Choosing a neighborhood, I’ll walk up and down each block, camera in hand, looking for anything that will spark my interest – an old storefront covered in graffiti, an interesting reflection in a store window, contrasting scenes of old and new, an ornate window frame bathed in sunlight.
All my paintings are created directly from my own photos using acrylic paint and water on canvas. I begin my painting by roughly sketching my subject matter on the canvas and continue adding layer after layer, detail after detail. The paintings generally take about a month to complete depending on the size and the amount of detail involved.
Why acrylics? For me, oils require space, time to dry and ventilation – none of which I had when I began painting. I attempted watercolors for a short time but found them too difficult to master. Acrylics for me are just more workable. I was able to achieve the effects I was after. They don’t require much cleanup, are odorless, and dry quickly. The colors are vibrant; and, it’s easy to cover one’s mistakes.
There is life in these graffiti-covered storefronts. I find these walls incredibly vibrant. They shout and tell stories and make statements. They can provoke and anger and make you think. There is a worn-out, beaten beauty to some of these subjects which I’ve attempted to capture. They are down, but not quite, out. Hopefully, you can still get a sense of what these structures were during better days.
Graffiti is incredibly difficult to render convincingly because it’s hard to capture spontaneity and make it look real. But it’s also fun, especially once you see the end result.
For me, much of the charm of the city comes from it’s oldness. The old storefronts, signs, and buildings – the ones “they don’t make like that anymore” – still stand proud and defiant. I want the viewer to notice these things and hopefully appreciate them as I do, before they are demolished by the wrecking ball and fade into memory.
Light, shadow and perspective are also among the things I look for in a subject. Perhaps that stems from my love of old movies, film noir in particular. These elements present a formidable challenge. If they are not captured accurately, the scene can look phony and contrived, a realist painters’ nightmare.
I’m always looking to incorporate items that are uniquely “city”. Fire hydrants, No Parking signs, a shadow from a fire escape, even a garbage can or a crosswalk. There are many small details to a painting. I’d like to think that the viewer can find something new with every new look.