The Watercolors of Nan Lombardi

Who says nothing good comes in the mail? I was delighted to receive a postcard for Tribeca artist Nan Lombardi‘s new show of watercolors at Sanford Smith Fine Art in Great Barrington, Mass. The show includes some of the paintings you see here—which she graciously allowed me to post—as well as ones of Venice, and it runs from July 3 through August 6. If you find yourself in the Berkshires, you should definitely check them out in person, and contact the gallery if you think one might look good in your apartment. (They’re 28″ x 34″ framed.) Click to enlarge! And stay tuned for Part 2….

How long have you lived in Tribeca?
I have lived in Tribeca for a little over 15 years. Before that I lived in the Financial District but had painting studios on White Street and Franklin Street.

When did you start painting Tribeca?
I started painting Tribeca specifically when I started working in watercolors in 2011. When I was working in oils I did a lot of paintings of Lower Manhattan, the World Financial Center buildings, etc., and I was fascinated with the light and how it interacted with the buildings, and the reflections and shadows. The oils are quite large and somewhat abstract—very different from what I am doing now, but in some ways they are about the same things.

What in particular are you drawn to when you paint Tribeca?
I have always loved architecture and the built environment. While I am most interested in the older warehouse buildings, I also like the play between the old construction and the new. Again, the light, the reflections and shadows are beautiful and compelling. I prefer high contrast days with bright light, long shadows, and crisp reflections. I think Tribeca’s close proximity to water (the Hudson) enhances the quality of the light—sometimes our skies are a remarkable solid blue.

The rich texture of the buildings—the bricks, ornamentation, fire escapes, and large windows—contributes to the special qualities of the area. There is a certain “look” that appeals to me which is hard to describe but it has to do with the “solidity” of the abstract shapes formed by the properties of the building, the shapes of the shadows and the reflections, the sky, etc. I like the idea of making these more tangible and solid and “permanent.”

Can you describe your process ?
I had not painted in quite a few years and missed doing it. I had given up my painting studio because my part-time job became a full-time one. When I stopped working I thought I could use my second bedroom as a studio but was very reluctant to use solvents and live with the fumes 24 hours a day. I had never painted in watercolors so I took a week-long workshop. The workshop was about painting flowers in watercolors—from projected images from photographs of a flower. Something “clicked” for me and I decided to try doing a watercolor of a building using this technique. I always loved waking up in the morning to the bright light and long shadows cast from the fire escapes of the buildings across the street from me. So I took many photographs and started from that. Now when I see the the light is “right” I take my camera for a walk and start shooting. The iPhone has been great because sometimes something grabs my interest and I can take a shot with that.

All of this has been an unexpected and wonderful discovery for me—not only do I love doing it, but the medium is a lot healthier to use. The storage problem one has with large oils is also solved: Now everything fits nicely into flat files and portfolios! And I have a gallery representing me.

All images © Nan Lombardi 2013 and 2014

You might also enjoy:
The Paintings of Bruce Paly
The Sketchbooks of Peter Koval
The Sketchbooks of Mariano Recalde
Tribeca en Plein Air

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  1. Re Nan Lombardi
    How can we potentially see and buy these pictures without going to Great Barington