Artworks by Steven Lu

West Side Story Project

Currently on a project I started in the summer of 2015.  I have been toying around the idea of a painting of West Side Story since seeing the movie on DVD a few times.

I have created dozens of sketches to see how I could compose it.  I wanted to infuse a lot of things: portraiture, iconic moments from the movie and something that still would convey a personal style . But what to consider? There are  fire escapes, water towers, laundry lines, tenement buildings.  We’ll see. Within each new sketch, there would be something new to cling onto and see where it would go.  Some images would stick for a while but eventually would get discarded and a few would stay intact, all the while  having the fear that it would turn out to confusing or a  cliche.

So the frustrating moments have been whether to continue and settle for what it is and let the idea go that there is no “perfect” montage. The pros like Drew Struzman or Robert McGinnis would have figured it out easily. But how to convey a painting that is not going to be a poor attempt to emulate them is the challenge. So once again I  look back into my body of work and somewhere… the answer is there.


Nonetheless I’ve  into the site  what I have amassed basically a diary of sketches to show how things have progressed.

Just recently, I have had a couple of friends look at what I’ve done so far. I have a 6 foot canvas where I already have done some considerable amount of painting. But while the arrangement is not horrible, and after much discussion, I still wasn’t quite satisfied with it. Then a “dim” lightbulb hit me; not a “aha” moment but enough to try just one more time to rearrange some figures.  So now there is another 6 foot canvas to create.

This is what being an artist is at times. It can be very frustrating but any attempt is another learning experience. I guess the more important  lesson is to not give up while still keeping the standards high. I have often experienced this need to be like the pros paralyzing. Now it’s a bit more tempered. I have a much better perspective on false starts and mistakes and they can be very enlightening. I see them as opportunities to point my way in a better direction.


So here we go.   Reminding myself not to make it perfect, but one can always be better.

March 2017

So I crossed the finish line with canvas #1, for better, for worse. I will post a blog on my thoughts on this, cause it’s been a long journey and I want to share with all of you, but not Tonight…. (err, no pun intended.)

6×4 feet acrylic on canvas

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1 Comment

  1. stevenluart

    September 29, 2016 at 7:35 pm

    Sep 29, 2016

    I had to step away from both of these canvases for a few weeks. I wanted to get some momentum on a few other design pieces, albeit smaller canvases. It’s a way to stay productive in the meantime and be able to come back with fresh eyes and renewed energy.

    Eight more figures to go on the first canvas. I am close to deciding how to approach the background which has been a struggle. It helps to have a second painting to “fall back on” because it’s easy to become so worried with your first attempt to make everything right and there’s always that small sense of doubt that the certain key decisions can throw off image off track. Sometimes the answers arrives only after you spend time away from your project. So it’s worth waiting for them especially if you’re working on a six foot painting.

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