When I hit a plateau or am stuck, or just need some inspiration — looking at great artists helps me a lot.
This painting is by Richard Diebenkorn. and it’s called “Cityscape 1″. It’s huge, like 50″ x 60”. He painted it in 1963, when he was 40. Diebenkorn passed away in 1993 at the age of 70.
I love the way his shapes fit together, the lights and darks are tight like a jigsaw puzzle. The green in the upper right feels like it’s pushing downward, held back by the greys. The irregular shapes of the building slices and shadows, the way I can just see bits and pieces – my eye moves up and down the buildings on the lower left.
I especially love the colors he uses – the bright green against the gray, the variation in the browns. Plus a couple of bright dabs on the left – I feel like the red and pale blue spots are balancing against the green on the right. Check out the colors of his shadows, the way they’re a very delicate mix of complementaries. And just a smidge of black in the lower left, to anchor it.
Here’s his page at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Check him out!