Featured Artist Tim Saternow

Painter Tim Saternow’s dramatic watercolors of New York City focus on the interplay of light and darkness. View more of his portfolio on his website.

 

“Central Parking, West 27th St.” Watercolor, 15” x 22”

“Central Parking, West 27th St.” Watercolor, 15” x 22”

 

I had the perfect education to become a painter–I didn’t go to art school. Instead, I became a designer in the theater and an art director in film, and only then learned how to paint and draw to better explain my design ideas. It was an education in a wide variety of techniques because I would change the look and mood of a “set rendering” to better illustrate the subject of the project.

 

“Famous Sichuan, Pell Street, Chinatown” Watercolor, 26” x 40”

“Famous Sichuan, Pell Street, Chinatown” Watercolor, 26” x 40”

 

Now I paint for myself. My watercolor paintings could be considered my “location sketches,” and, like the movies, I see the world in light and dark.

 

“West 15th Street, NBC Buildings” Watercolor, 10” x 13”

“West 15th Street, NBC Buildings” Watercolor, 10” x 13”

 

Value is the key and it’s where I start. It’s this range of value (especially the dark values) that produce drama and tell a story—this makes an exciting painting.

 

“Hold Out, 111 W13th St.” Watercolor, 22” x 30”

“Hold Out, 111 West 13th St.” Watercolor, 22” x 30”

 

I see gentle drama in the city as I wander old neighborhoods. City life is a constant energy of change, especially in New York City. I’m recording these moments in paint—the forgotten corners—before they’re all torn down or improved out of existence.

 

“West 29th Street, Terminal Food” Watercolor, 26” x 40”

“West 29th Street, Terminal Food” Watercolor, 26” x 40”

 

My streets are quiet—the breath before the rush. The texture is wet and dirty, sunlight through the smog. On an abstract level, I look for elements that will counter the powerful verticality of all these buildings with objects that break that upward direction.

 

“West 26th Street, High Line” Watercolor, 26” x 40”

“West 26th Street, High Line” Watercolor, 26” x 40”

 

Stoplights, street lights, taxis and street signs are my horizontals. That’s why that old rusting freight train trestle that runs down the far west side of Chelsea is so important to me. Now known as the High Line Park, it’s a hulking horizontal that cuts through factories and warehouses above the streets below.

 

“Psychic Reading, West 27th St.” Watercolor, 40” x 60”

“Psychic Reading, West 27th St.” Watercolor, 40” x 60”

 

I carefully draw this city, with correct linear perspective, and all the details that make this city unique.

 

“41 Union Square West” Watercolor, 15” x 22”

“41 Union Square West” Watercolor, 15” x 22”

 

But then I break this perfection with thrown paint, back-runs and puddles of color. I paint on an upright easel so drips are constant (something not usually done with watercolor painting).

 

“Hector’s Diner Under the High Line” Watercolor, 15” x 22”

“Hector’s Diner Under the High Line” Watercolor, 15” x 22”

 

I love the counterpoint of a careful drawing with the anarchy of paint thrown on top of it. It creates a powerful tension between the illusion of depth as in a careful perspective drawing, and the texture of paint that sits on top of this without any regard to the drawing.

 

“Irving Place, Con Ed Tower” Watercolor, 26” x 40”

“Irving Place, Con Ed Tower” Watercolor, 26” x 40”

 

This is my developed technique of academic perspective drawing countered with expressive and dynamic paint throwing. The result captures all the contradictions that is my New York City.

 

Artist Tim Saternow invites you to follow him on Instagram.

 

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YES PLEASE!

Comments

  1. A visual feast! Beautiful paintings full of juxtapositions and lively brushwork. Restrained, interpretive color works perfectly here. Great stuff, Tim.

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