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From Annie Shaver-Crandell's Studio 
July 2014

Urban Oasis: Annie Shaver-Crandell and the use of water
Urban Oasis: Annie Shaver-Crandell and the use of water



Rowing in Central Park (photo: Dan Dillon)

Water is best 
Pindar (c. 518-c. 438 B.C.)
Water serves in many ways.  We drink it, bathe with it, bottle it, cook with it, strive to be near it, listen to it, smell it, watch it, travel freely in or on it, appreciate it as a habitat for thousands of species, and, if we're smart, we also fear water.

Some of us paint with it. As a watercolorist, I cannot do without it. Much of what I try to pass on to my students has to do with the behavior of water as it interacts with specific pigments, specific papers and brushes, none of which are created equal. For most watercolor work, I'm partial to animal-hair brushes, which are more absorbent than most synthetic ones.  And if I'm attempting to depict water, I'll usually choose hot-pressed paper, the smoothest available commercially.  

As a painting subject, water can be truly simple, deceptively simple or beyond pesky.  Much depends on light, how much detail one is after, and location relative to the subject. For many years, I have had recurring opportunities to paint the Delaware River in northwestern New Jersey near the Delaware Water Gap. Low and high water are mostly seasonal on the Delaware, still the longest un-dammed river on the eastern seaboard of the US. My long-term vantage point has been a boat-ramp at Poxono Landing, which allows me to get very close to the level of the water at a point near two curves in the riverbed. The hazards there have tended to be mud, insects, snakes, temperatures and the occasional boat-hitch needing access, any of which can disrupt a
plein air session.  Sometimes it's been better to work from photos taken when conditions precluded plein air in real time.   
Poxono Landing, August Sunset, acrylic, 2005

Hall of Ice, oil, 2005
are both views finished in the studio. One is in oil, the other in acrylic, but I have tried to convey the conditions of water, flowing or frozen, as I had seen them. 
Venice Sunset from the Lagoon, watercolor, 2006
The waters of Venice have given me another body of work.  I was last there during a frigid March with beautiful light but temperatures far too cold to manage anything except not dropping a camera from frozen fingers.  So these views are were also executed in the studio, inspired by what I saw of Venetian water and the reflections it makes possible.

Ca' d'Oro, marker, oil stick, acrylic, and watercolor, 2007
I had better luck in Idaho the following year, painting a sunset over a lake in watercolor.
Idaho Sunset, watercolor, 2007
More recently, I've been working around the North Shore of Long Island, both in real time and from photographs.  Long Island Sound is tidal, as I have had to learn. When setting out to paint outdoors, I need to gauge not only the usual factors of light and expected temperature, but also the behavior of the tides at the location where I want to work  The good news is that, with published annual tide charts, I have yet to have to go home with wet boots or a ruined painting.  
Sunken Meadow, High Tide, oil, 2011
Centerport Harbor, Low Tide, oil, 2012
This year, Daniel and I are following the progress of a family of swans making its home on the Mill Pond at Centerport Harbor.  The devoted, ferocious, hissing parents are maintaining eight cygnets growing rapidly huge, apparently on pond-weed.  There will be other artwork from them but here's the first, a monotype.

Swans and Cygnets, monotype, 2014
My other current water-related obsession is urban, the wooden storage tanks atop the roofs of New York City, many of which I can see from our roof here on Bond Street. They are constructed of barrel-like staves, but without a bulge.  If they leak, they must be completely dismantled and rebuilt. Historically, our water comes by gravity from upstate.  The city provides water pressure sufficient to raise water to the fourth floor.  Like the odd TV aerial, these tanks seem to be part of a vanishing vista -- no one builds with them now.  I find their shapes elegant and beautiful, a quintessentially urban icon. 
Winter Reflections, oil, 2014

Book-Signing on Bond Street
Photo: Anthony Almeida.
Our fabulous book-signing party on Bond Street, June 19, 2014. 

Foreground, left to right: Annie, Joe Goldman (also seen here as the tango leader in a blue shirt in the square painting on a small easel just above his head) and Amanda Luken.  Background, on davenport: Rudy Serra and Paula Barr; at the piano, Miryana Moteva. 


More Blue Roofs II, watercolor, and watercolor pencil, 2014
Through the Trees, acrylic and oil, 2006
Denise's Garden, Bond Street, watercolor, 2014



August 2, 4-7 pm.
    On August 2, from 4 to 7 pm,  I'll be part of the scenery, in costume as a lady plein air painter of another era, at the Bidwell House Museum Garden Party in Monterey, Massachusetts.  This event is being staged on the grounds of the former Berkshire Summer School of Art, overlooking the beautiful Tyringham Valley. To attend or support this fund-raising event, which includes cocktails, hors d'oeuvres and music by the Plein Air Trio -- and promises to be great fun -- contact the Gala Committee of the Bidwell House Museum, at 413-528-6888 or

August 15, 6-9:45 pm.
     After a year-long hiatus because of renovation of the Main Gallery of the Salmagundi Club, we are resuming periodic tango evenings.  The first is August 15, 6-9:45 pm.  Dan Dillon and I are hosts, and our DJ is Lorenzo Miercoles, whose collection of Argentine tango music is second to none in New York. Come try out the new floor, have a drink down in the bar, and relax with friends old and new. The club is located in a beautiful brownstone at 47 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10003, at 12th St. Admission is $10, except for veterans, military personnel and members of the NYPD and FDNY, for whom our tango evenings are always free of charge. See for more about the club.  Please click to see my February 2014 Newsletter on the Tango.   
Alice at 100: A Reading in Honor of the Birth of Alice Crafts Shaver (September 12, 1914, Oberlin, Ohio -- November 26, 2003, Oberlin, Ohio). 
September 13, 2:30 pm. 
     Alice Crafts Shaver, my mother and a great deal else, was an unpublished writer, but a prolific, articulate, witty and occasionally acerbic creator of letters, mostly to members of her her extended family. To mark the centennial of her birth, friends and I will read from a selection of these letters at the Salmagundi Club on Saturday, September 13 at 2:30.  I am looking for volunteers to participate in this event.  If you knew my mother, or have an Oberlin connection, are a ham at heart or just want to help give a unique woman's voice an audible hearing, please be in touch (; 212-464-7519).

Developing Closer Connections to Painting What
Matters to You.
September 14, 11 am-3 pm. 
     A workshop in my Bond Street studio in which to explore subject matter you may have left alone, out of fear, shyness or resistance to emotional revelation.  Participants are encouraged to bring and work in media that allow for speed of execution -- watercolor, gouache, acrylics, oil pastel and markers are all well suited to the process we will undertake.
     Sunday, September 14 at 11 am-3 pm.  $45, payable by check ahead of time to reserve a spot, or cash on the day; call ahead to reserve.


Space is currently available in small group painting classes offered at the Bond Street studio.  Monday 2:30-5:30, Wednesday 3:00-6:00, Thursday 10 am-1:00 pm.  Call or email me for details about these and private lessons.  
LI plein aire august

Win a Free Watercolor Lesson

Like me on facebook and twitter the word "watercolor" to me and your name will be entered for a chance to win a free watercolor lesson at my Bond Street studio!

Annie's work may be seen at  



Annie Shaver-Crandell: A Collection of Views Landscapes, Cityscapes and Interiors

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Cassie and Spottie, acrylic, 2014

Please visit my studio for a private viewing. Call me at 212-464-7519 to schedule. I am also available to discuss commissions.



Urban Landscapes
New York City

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2014 Annie Shaver-Crandell