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City of Glass 12 - (W107thSt, E69th St)   150x120cms

SAT 8 JUNE 2013

Went deeper and deeper into the painting today and found my answers. The orange is immense. I was painting in my sleep last night and went into the studio with a bunch of ideas. Firstly, I felt the left side/west side of Manhattan was too soft, not tough enough. The drawing was strengthened by filling, with flatter paint, the fantastic shape of the Hudson between Manhattan and the left side of the canvas. I found a green that set off the orange/reds. A warmer green line was added to the edge, running in parallel to the now straighter line of the West Side and connecting to the vertical drips of the avenues. I'm still looking for more, for something else - I realised that the grid of Manhattan needed a horizontal or two to break up the verticals so i introduced W107th St and E69th St, the green lines flanking Central Park and the streets where author/detective Quinn and his client Peter Stillman live* Already, there was a subtle scaling up of the street-grid on the right side of the painting, so taking the main horizontal of E69th St, I introduced the image of a tiny ziggurat-topped apartment building, illusionistically three dimensional not flat, so I could repeat the angle of the lower West-side. The building went in and went out: all the painting needed was the tiny angle.(below)
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Janie told me about a thing on TV - 'What do artists do all day?' My seven hrs today were spent moving the painting from below to above. Forwards? Buildings went in and went out - they complicated and cramped the space. I enjoyed the freeing up of Manhattan and the emergence of emptiness. With that came the refinement of proportion and the very special bottom right corner. But it all seems very familiar - does this piece need more? It still may be the left half of a larger piece - we'll see tomorrow. I still think there is a painting somewhere that links my last two 'StillmanStillman' paintings with the other paintings in the series, a painting that contains the island-shape of Manhattan and the figure of Stillman.
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The obvious problem is that if you put the two side by side, the figure becomes a giant, which I don't want: it is the new Tower of Babel that is giant. One solution was to make the Manhattan-shape a painting of Manhattan within the painting (referring to Matisse's 'The Red Studio') with the figure of Stillman disapearing behind. Another idea was to have Manhattan on the extreme left , and the figure of Stillman on the extreme right of a very large painting which is why I rushed home for a second canvas on Thursday. The idea was to have the Manhattan shape and the figure the same-size but to make the figure appear smaller by gradually scaling up the grid of the streets as you move left to right. At the end of the day, I put one of StillmanStillman canvases alongside this painting and saw that the paintings are linked: they are both shapes in colour, connected by the paint handling, composition and the subtle horizontals. And of course the shape and proportions of Manhattan suggest the human-figure. 
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* From 'The New York Trilogy' by Paul Auster