Painting Process | Woolworth Building, WhenTech 7WTC

Final Woolworth WhenTech

My painting of the Woolworth Building from financial technology leader WhenTech’s 34th floor 7 World Trade Center office has been completed. The first sessions focused on creating the structure during the day. Subsequent efforts included darkening the picture, then recreating the man-made lights at night.

A special thank you to David Wender and the WhenTech team for the hospitality.

Setting up shop on the 34th floor of 7 World Trade Center.

A brief sketch to lay out the composition.

Starting with the Woolworth building on the right hand side with a nice, deep red.

Blocking out the entire composition, fitting in a sliver of the Manhattan Bridge.

A blue sky, which will serve as an under painting for the nighttime sky.

Here come’s Hooker’s green, you know.

The ongoing construction of the building to the right of the Woolworth has a great deal of orange, which made for a logical foundation color.

Hammering out the composition for the second time, things are feeling in place.

A deep purple for the darker planes of the canvas.

Adding the concrete colored building planes, covering the whites.

Here is where the canvas ended after day one. Tonight, I will begin cloaking the picture in darkness and painting in the lights of the building. The Woolworth at night is quite a sight, and I am hoping the composition will showcase it’s beauty. Thanks again to Mr. Wender and WhenTech for access to their beautiful office.

Day two was more of a night session, at WhenTech’s 7 World Trade Center office from the 34th floor. With the structure in place, this session became a reductive process – removing all natural light. The next session will include painting the light created by man into the dark city scape you will find after the jump.


Blocking out the yellows in the Woolworth building, eliminating all whites.

Adding a reflective purple layer to the darker buildings in the lower left quadrant of the canvas.

And on the eighth hour, the brush declared, let there be darkness.

There is and will be no pure black added to this canvas, all dark colors are a mix of complementary colors.

The building full of scaffolding, joining the night-time parade.

Removing the brights from the Woolworth Building. There is something about layering paint that creates a different feeling than a pure mix and apply situation.

Small detailing of the copper on top of the Woolworth.

Making the canvas darker throughout.

Here is where the painting sat after day two. Tonight, I will alternate between painting light and adding to the darkness. Should be interesting.


Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night, and found yourself groping in the darkness for a light-switch you have flipped a thousand times? This is how painting a night scene feels.

Bringing some structure to the Woolworth Building, finally painting with some lights.

Adding some darknes to the buildings in the background – when you truthfully analyze the light, or lack thereof, the brightest brights are in alarming places.

Bringing the windows into the equation, dark on dark. Still, not a drop of black has been added to this canvas.

Details are exciting, particularly when you begin to nail down the appropriate tones. It’s like waking up in a cold sweat thinking you dreamt Christmas in July, when you realize it is actually December 24th and Home Alone (favorite quote, not an insult to you) is on TV.

Duking it out with the brick buildings in the background, trying to make that which is in the distance recede.

Warm lights… too Halloween orange for now, but that will change with another round of warm windows on top.

Adding the bizarrely lime green windows in the slatted building directly behind the Woolworth.

McMahon captures the ambiance of the space.

Focusing hard, or hardly focusing – you decide.

When you paint up 34 stories above the ground, you have the luxury of sitting down without changing the perspective.

Another McMahon special – here is the end of day three. Painting at night is a challenge, but I am feeling the result will turn out.

Woolworth WhenTech

Adding the reflective light to the Woolworth Building tower.

Woolworth WhenTech

Working brights throughout the canvas.

Woolworth WhenTech

Adding the sky, and darks in both the buildings (windows) and the water (by the bridge.)

Final Woolworth WhenTech

And the final piece! This one was a challenge, but I enjoy night scenes and look forward to capturing more this winter. Coming up next, I will be heading to Milan on Tuesday to spend a week painting Italian scenes. If you have any advice/connections in Milan, please email me

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