For five years I painted street scenes of New York City, Paris, and Ottawa. Initially, I was most interested in people as the subject matter of my street scenes. I was fascinated by what their lives were like in these romanticized cities, and what they could be up to the day I captured them in a photograph. While this element is still present in some of my pieces, it is my love of architecture that inspires each painting I make.
Having grown up in a small town, I find cities intriguing because of the volume and variety of people, but also because of the buildings and infrastructure built to accommodate them. These buildings, sidewalks, and even the trees have seen many people come and go, stood through decades of change in history, style, and weather. When populations grew, these buildings stood their ground, adapted, and saw more built up around them. But whether they are two hundred years old or brand new, architecture is the backdrop of our everyday environment, a subject which I think is worthy of documenting and celebrating.
I’ve always been drawn to architecture in art, from commercial café paintings to my favourites in art history. I relate most to Gustave Caillebotte’s Paris scenes and Edward Hopper’s New York paintings because while their subject matter often includes people, architecture plays a strong role in providing context and mood in their most iconic works.
I paint with a representational style that is based off photographs, but I do not strive to paint an exact copy. My intention is to record a scene using simple colour and lines. By selectively omitting realistic texture and shading, the result is a two-dimensional impression relying mostly on line, perspective, and contrast. This simple style highlights the basic lines of the architecture, and includes only what is necessary to leave the viewer with a vivid impression of the scene. Details like street signs and store names are occasionally included to be a true documentation of the location at the time.
I usually take my reference photos from the sidewalk looking across the street, or looking up at a street sign or window. This vantage point provides an additional sense of realism that some viewers have said makes them feel they could walk into the painting and be surrounded by it, which I think is a wonderful quality for art to have.