The Meaning Behind My Artwork: “New York City, Crossroads”

Updated: Apr 2


The Process

This piece was created using Gamblin Artist Oils on stretched, grade A, 10 oz

cotton duck canvas that was triple primed with a professional archival gesso. I stretch

my own canvas using the technique I shared previously Here , using kiln-dried, gallery style stretcher bars (1.5” profile) made in

Canada from renewable resources.

For this work, I applied an alla prima technique, also known as wet on wet. With

this method, no underpainting is done before the paint is applied. Ultimately, I finished

the work with a Gamblin Gamvar finish.


The Obstacles

Every artwork presents unique obstacles, but this work faced the added barriers

that COVID-19 has created. Finding reference material was challenging because I

couldn’t travel to New York City myself to take the photos this work would be based on.

Yet, limitations breed creativity. Instead, this artwork about connection was itself

borne of connection. I contacted the artist Eugene Belsky for permission to use his

drone videography of NYC as a reference for the piece. The obstacles this work faced

were reminders of what this work celebrates. The way we are all connected through

various means—through art, through cities, through individual relationships—has only

become more clear in the midst of the pandemic. More than ever before, the way in

which our lives intersect and are interdependent upon each other is undeniable and



The Meaning

This work was commissioned by a collector from NYC, a city I’ve featured in

other paintings previously. The view in this work is the financial district looking northeast

toward Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and Woodside, Queens. The focal point of this work is the

One World Trade Center to the left and both the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridge on the


The aerial view in this piece is a recurring perspective I use in my work that

stems from my experience in aviation. I worked as a pilot and was an air traffic control

student during the September 11th terrorist attacks, an event that affected me both

personally and professionally. During this tragedy, the way cities act as the heart of

connection between people, no matter how different they might be—whether of different

cultures, backgrounds, and lifestyles—came to the forefront of daily life. No person was

unaffected in some capacity, making the depth of our connection to each other ever

more clear.

In many ways, New York City is the epitome of what human connection and

cooperation can yield. A city is perfectly representative of the process by which human

civilization is borne; it’s the result of a crossroads of connection where diverse ideas

and opinions intersect to allow for growth and progress to occur.

My experience as a pilot and air traffic controller enables me to see a city like

New York as more than just a destination, but as a hub, both of travel and culture. NYC

is a major location for both national and international travel from all other continents and

a city you can easily eat food from a different culture every night for a month.

When I paint New York City, I feel less as if I’m depicting a location and more as

though I’m unveiling a process—the process by which our civilization comes to be. A

city is made up of many distinct and interdependent parts—from the buildings to the

people—that all play integral roles in the changes and progress that will result. It only

takes a single break in that complex system for the everyday life we take for granted to


When understanding the complexity of our world, taking a step back to see the

bigger picture gives us the perspective to appreciate what we’re often too hyper-focused

on our own daily lives to see. Experience in aviation can give you the kind of instant

perspective shift that rarely comes easily on the ground. Seeing a city from an aerial

perspective not only reminds us how small our own lives are when faced with a city

housing millions of other lives, but reminds us to reflect on the bigger parts of life we

most easily miss.

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