Why Do I Paint Buildings?
Hi and welcome to the first of my irregular blogs on art, artists, architects and whatever else I think needs talking about.
I have long been a lover of graphic art and illustration. Probably ever since I was a teenager, poring over Roger Dean’s Views and copies of illustration magazines. I have also always loved buildings and architecture. So much, in fact, that I retrained to become an architectural designer, and designed and oversaw the building of houses here and abroad.
So, when I started painting as a career, it was not surprising that buildings and cityscapes were central to my output, along with portraits, the softness of skin perhaps the antithesis of the rigidity of brick and glass.
My recent move into illustration and graphic art started with my travel art - painting places I have visited, almost as a visual representation of a travel diary. My interest was fuelled by many wonderful artists, such as Adrian Tomine (@adriantomine), Malika Favre (@malikafavre) and Pascal Campion (@pascalcampionart), all of whom are worth checking out.
Taking specific buildings from those cityscapes to paint was a natural progression for me and the buildings I have chosen are ones I love for their beauty, both in themselves and in what they add to their city.
So my first two have been 20 Fenchurch, also known as the Walkie-Talkie, in the City of London (architect Rafael Vinoly); I love the way it bows out at the top and if you are underneath it, the striations fan out in all directions. Apart from 30 St Mary Axe (aka the Gherkin, architect Ken Shuttleworth), it is one of the few buildings in its landscape which is curved. Cities need curves!
The second was 405 Lexington, aka the Chrysler Building in New York. At first glance it is an archetypal NY skyscraper, a long vertical box, tapering in as it gets taller, until it comes to a point. Much like the Empire State and many others, you might think. No, because the Chrysler (architect William van Alen) is a deco masterpiece. The top is a series of radiating sunbursts clad in stainless steel (more curves) and including many elements reflecting Chrysler’s heritage in the car industry, including hubcaps and the gargoyles, which are reminiscent of huge hood ornaments.
These can be seen on my website at https://jonnychurchart.com/collections/travel-art-1. I hope you like them as much as me. Watch out in future for others to make an interesting architectural collection. Probable future paintings might well include other favourites of mine, such as the Guggenheim and the Barcelona Pavilion (below).
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