Piece of the Week: Ellen Bradshaw’s Sunlight, Lispenard St. A New York Morning

Sunlight, Lispenard St 

Between the golden morning glow, her forever-carried camera, and the dramatic vantage point, Ellen Bradshaw, the artist behind our piece of the week, hits the idiomatic film trifecta – lights, camera, action.

Our Piece of the Week, Sunlight, Lispenard St. (30”x20”), an oil painting that depicts a New York City streetscape, combines the light of a New York morning with the shadowy silhouettes of a movie set.  

“The early morning light on this small side street is very dramatic, almost blinding, and brings out the beautiful fire escape features on the buildings against the deep shadows below,” she says.

Like many good New York movies, New York takes the lead.

The painting is unique and, yet, relatable. The painting carries its own story – several mysterious characters roam the streets – and yet the narrative is placed within the real world, specifically between Broadway and Church Street.

“In the shadows, people and cars and garbage become silhouettes. Very particular to this time of day! Very dramatic and poetic,” says the artist.

In the early mornings, Bradshaw – a lower Manhattan resident and avid walker – would often walk along this street en route to Pearl Paint (the red building on the left side in the distance) or a neighboring frame shop, where she would purchase art supplies.

On one of these walks, she snapped the photograph that inspired Sunlight, Lispenard St.

Bradshaw always carries a camera. A city like New York City is rich with inspiration because it is, as Bradshaw puts it, “ever changing.”

Bradshaw paints from the fourth floor of a 1850s West Village. With winding staircases and northern light, her space is a New York gem.

On her artistic process Bradshaw says:

“I do not sketch, but first bathe the canvas in a tonal wash of yellows and mauve/violets to create the sunlight mood. I then draw with paint directly into that while wet with the terra cottas, violets, brown madder, alizarin crimson, purple madder, to create both the sharp contrast of the buildings and the more subtle shadow effects.”  

Her final step was adding highlights. Through “quick gestural paint expressions” as the paint dries, she created the visual drama inherent in the painting through highlighting the fire escapes, the windows, and the car.


See more of Ellen Bradshaw’s work on UGallery.