A Sucker for Architecture

Watercolor Art of the City

Arches, towers, doorways, bridges, and vaulted ceilings — I love all aspects of architecture and engineering. And, it was through these things that I first started to appreciate plein air painting.

Before, when I was trying to understand what plein air was all about, I was sort of “meh” about the idea of going out of the studio to paint. But then I saw Thomas W. Schaller’s watercolor paintings and came to the realization that plein air isn’t just about finding beautiful mountain vistas and cascading waterfalls and rivers.

Plein Air Urban Edition

When painting outside, there is room for capturing a little bit of the awe you feel when walking through a Parisian city square or encountering the loveliness of a historic bridge or stunning doorway. It turns out the cityscape — which I love — is actually the perfect subject for an artist painting outdoors. And with that, I was hooked on plein air.

North Broadway Bridge - Los Angeles by Thomas Schaller, watercolor on paper, 18 x 24.
North Broadway Bridge – Los Angeles by Thomas Schaller, watercolor on paper, 18 x 24.

Portrait of a Place

Plein air artists, at their best, capture both the likeness of the landscape they are painting and the spirit of the place. Architectural structures hopefully fit into their visions and tell stories of their own.

We can find immediate human connections to these places — imagining ourselves building them as well as occupying them. Schaller’s paintings take particular advantage of these connections, telling the story of the place and the feel of it through the structural features and nearby environs.

watercolor art by thomas schaller--cityscape
Watercolor by Thomas Schaller.

Different Feelings

A city street filled with skyscrapers and cars whizzing by gives quite a different feel than an ancient piazza with a spurting fountain at its center. What is exciting is that no matter what city slice of life you prefer, you can inject personality and verve into it.

If you choose your subject with the idea of painting the “portrait” of the place foremost in your mind, you are always going to be halfway there.

Watercolor painting by Thomas Schaller.
Watercolor painting by Thomas Schaller.

Learn from a Master

In the Design Powerful Watercolors with Thomas Schaller Collection there are resources that get you started with your cityscape foray — by putting you in the studio with this expert artist. Schaller helps you figure out how to capture the feel and atmosphere of the places you paint. And, if you are already comfortable with watercolor and design, this collection’s resources will simply give you the insights you need to take your work up a notch! Enjoy!

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Courtney Jordan

About Courtney Jordan

  Courtney is the editor of Artist Daily. For her, art is one of life’s essentials and a career mainstay. She’s pursued academic studies of the Old Masters of Spain and Italy as well as museum curatorial experience, writing and reporting on arts and culture as a magazine staffer, and acquiring and editing architecture and cultural history books. She hopes to recommit herself to more studio time, too, working in mixed media.   

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