Brooklyn Artist Janice McDonnell Paints the Waterfront From Red Hook to the Navy Yard

‘Tanks Nos. 4 and 5’


“The waterfront is ever changing,” says the painter Janice McDonnell. “For an artist, it’s an amazing opportunity to work from a subject that is familiar yet promises discovery at every turn.”

brooklyn art janice mcdonnell gowanus

Under the Trestle Bridge’

When she arrived in Brooklyn more than a decade ago, setting up a studio in Dumbo, she was intrigued by her views of the East River, but they only resulted in the occasional sketches of the trestle of the Manhattan Bridge or the nearby barges. It wasn’t until she moved her studio to Red Hook in 2009 that the waterfront came into focus as a subject worth pursuing in her work.

brooklyn art janice mcdonnell gowanus

‘Gowanus No. 2’

In McDonnell’s paintings, industry and nature exist side by side, brought to life through impressionistic brush strokes. “I love the light, the low buildings, approximation to the New York Harbor, and the weather patterns that make the light so incredibly striking and ideal for a landscape painter,” McDonnell says. “It’s a unique place and I want to appreciate and make the most of it while I’m here.”

brooklyn art janice mcdonnell gowanus

‘Trestle Bridge’

brooklyn art janice mcdonnell

‘Brooklyn Navy Yard Pool’

brooklyn art janice mcdonnell gowanus

‘White Crane’

brooklyn art janice mcdonnell gowanus

‘Red Crane’

Editor’s note: A version of this story appeared in the Fall/Holiday 2017/18 issue of Brownstoner magazine.

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