I went to Chicago earlier this year to visit some friends. After a week in noisy, hectic New York, I was expecting more of the same as I stepped off the plane. I couldn't have been more wrong. Chicago is a much more relaxed, chilled out city. And very arty too. There's all kinds of interesting sculptures and artworks dotted around the place making it a lovely city to spend a few days exploring. Without a doubt, Anish Kapoor's Bean (or Cloud Gate) in Millenium Park is the most striking and probably most photographed work of art that I saw during my stay. The bean is perfectly smooth and polished and was built about 10 years ago following a design competition. I would imagine there is a considerable cleaning effort required to keep it looking as flawless as it does.
It's not the easiest of things to paint either as the shape distorts everything in the reflection. I put off starting this picture for quite a while as I mulled over how to tackle it. In the end, I dug out my pastels again as I thought they'd be a fun way of making the curved shapes and smooth surfaces and I think it was the right decision.
When I was there it was a beautiful sunny day and the place was swarming in tourists all taking pictures on their phones. I couldn't help thinking it would look a lot better if we weren't all there so I decided to leave all but one of the people out of my final painting. This lady, leaning against the bean looking at her distorted reflection, hall of mirrors style is the only one who made the cut. I liked her because she was just enjoying the moment instead of snapping away on her camera phone like the rest of us. We should all take a leaf out of her book. We miss so much with the all too easy point, click and move on approach that so many of us take to exploring a new place.