City Night

Made by Claire Chen

I recreated a Norman Lewis piece by capturing its fragmentation of shapes and the general color scheme.

Created: September 5th, 2016



I want to capture the general emotion this painting imparts using the artist's style, which is Abstract Expressionism.



Norman Lewis is an African-American Abstract Expressionist painter that focuses on representing black urban life. He transferred from portraying social issues within his works to focusing on the aesthetic during his career. Later in life, he began to experiment with abstraction.     



I selected City Night because it appeals to me aesthetically and imparts a strong emotion. I have always been a fan of abstract expressionism. This piece not only consists of jumbled abstract shapes and random lines, but also signifies the artists’ feeling of the disillusionment of American racism with the overall color scheme. 

Image source: 



I want to recreate the overall feeling with the style of Abstract Expressionism instead of adhering closely to details of the painting because when I first looked at the painting, I was attracted to the artistic style and struck by the depression and despair this painting imparted as the artist became disillusioned by the racism in America.     



I focus on the randomness of shapes and the general color tone. I first painted the background with black and brown in Photoshop, and then used Processing to randomly generate shapes of different colors. However, I didn't want to impart the same sense of despair in my work because I don't normally feel that, so I chose to animate my work by adding patches of colors onto random places using code. 

private float x1, y1, x2, y2;

void setup() 
  size(600, 800);
  PImage img = loadImage("CityNight.jpg");
  image(img, 0, 0);
  for (int i=0; i<10; i++) {
    fill(255, 100);
    rect(random(120, width-120), random(120, height-120), 30, random(50, 100));

void draw()
  if (frameCount<100) {
  fill(random(20, 80), random(50, 170), random(40, 170), 150);
  x1 = random(120, width - 120);
  y1 = random(120, height - 120);
  x2 = random(10, 30);
  y2 = random(20, 40);
  rect(x1, y1, x2, y2);
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    I feel like I captured the themes and style well with this digital reproduction, which not only demonstrates the color scheme similar to that of the original work, but also imitates the process of adding chunks of color to the canvas that signifies the style of Abstract Expressionism. I have come to understand how to better capture the style of an artwork by analyzing and decomposing it. Also, I have a better grasp of Abstract Expressionism. I also learned that it is possible to create an artwork in the same style but with different feelings. I would make the composition more compact and precise if I have more time and better programming skills.     

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I recreated a Norman Lewis piece by capturing its fragmentation of shapes and the general color scheme.