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An Artist Uses Architectural Sketches To Paint City Scenes

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This Is Colossal tipped us off to the work of British artist Nathan Walsh, who captures strikingly realistic street scenes in cities all over the world. Before touching brush to canvas, though, Walsh uses pencil to sketch out incredibly detailed three-dimensional representations of the vista in question. Lucky for us, New York happens to be one of his favorite places to work, and he's created veritable blueprints of sites and cityscapes from the Flatiron Building and Fifth Avenue to Macy's and the Queensboro (sorry, Ed Koch Queensboro) Bridge. A selection of these pre-painting exercises, including a computer-generated rendering of the Apple Store, is depicted in the gallery above. Here now, the finished (or almost finished) products.


To explain how he uses his preliminary drawings as models for his on-the-nose accurate depictions, Walsh writes:

[T]he drawings are the first stage of creating and establishing form. If I just projected a photograph, or a panorama of stitched together photographs, I would just end up duplicating that information. Photography by its nature reasserts its own flatness, and in some ways is a poor record of how we see and experience the real world. My work involves a system of perspective, which gives each pictorial element a fixed and concrete space to inhabit... the most recent paintings have combined linear and curvilinear perspective, and now with the Flatiron painting I've been making broad arcs made up of sections of straight lines to describe form. Each painting suggests problems and my goal is to try and solve these problems with visual devices. As the paintings have become more complex, so have the solutions. Of course, there are no fixed rules in any of this, and for the paintings to work they must have an independence from any set system. I've no doubt an architect would view my buildings as unfeasible, but I'm not looking to make convincing architectural drawings, just spaces which function on their own terms. If you can wait that long, Walsh's new paintings will be on display in November 7-30 at Bernaducci Meisel Gallery in Midtown.
· Official site: Nathan Walsh [www.nathanwalsh.net]
· Realistic Urban Landscape Paintings of Chicago and New York by Nathan Walsh [Colossal]