Many painters working from photographic source material employ a wide variety of techniques to arrive at a final image. This will involve anything from loose sketching beforehand to complex grids, where a photograph is translated into paint box by box. Such is not the case with British painter Nathan Walsh who instead relies on elaborate drawings reminiscent of architectural blueprints before every committing paint to canvas. This deep reverence for the underpinning geometry and perspective gives each work a sense of life that might otherwise not be present in something created with the mechanical aid of a camera or software.
Walsh tells me his primary source materials are not photographs but pencil sketches drawn on-site, for example the Chicago pieces above began from over 100 drawings he then references in his studio. In this way he can easily alter the position and size of any particular element, a process he likens to “building a world from scratch”. Personally I think the process is more akin to building the entire world in his mind so he can better represent it later in his paintings, each of which takes up to 3-4 months to complete. Via his website:
I deal exclusively with the urban landscape and aim to present a painted world which in some ways resembles the world we live in. I am fascinated by the city, it’s visual complexity and constant state of flux. The act of painting is an attempt fix this information and give vision to our experience of living within it. [...] The work aims to create credible and convincing space which whilst making reference to our world displays it’s own distinct logic. This space is created through drawing, which I see as fundamental in establishing a world the viewer can engage with. Drawing allows me to make human pictorial decisions instead of relying on the mechanical eye of a camera or software package. This process is open ended and changes from one painting to the next. Whilst I employ a variety of perspectival strategies, these methods are not fixed or rigid in their application. Working with a box of pencils and an eraser I will start by establishing an horizon line on which I will place vanishing points to construct simple linear shapes which become subdivided into more complex arrangements.
You can see numerous final works at a much higher resolution, as well as initial drawings over on his website. Walsh will have work at the Changing Perspectives technology conference in Paris later this month, and is working on a solo show at Bernarducci Meisel Gallery in November.
This winter Chicago-based photographer Satoki Nagata produced a series of abstract, black and white street portraits of people caught in the frigid elements. Nagata says that he lights his figures from behind with a flash using a slow shutter speed and doesn’t rely on double exposures or glass reflections as it may appear. The results are some pretty striking photographs of people that look nearly transparent yet appear to be almost perfectly surrounded by a crisp halo of light. Nagata’s primary work centers around documentary photography which is also well worth a look.
Even after living here for 14 years I’m always struck by the juxtaposition of Chicago’s towering steel skyline against the brutal midwest winter as it transforms the lakefront into an arctic landscape. Dave Gorum, co-founder and creative director over at Carbonmade, went out last week and shot some footage of the densely packed ice chunks as they sloshed around in Lake Michigan off Lake Shore Drive and then converted them into these great gifs. You can see more over on his Tumblr. (via tumblr radar)
In 2007 Chicago 26-year-old real estate agent (and president of the Jefferson Park Historical Society) John Maloof walked into an auction house and placed a $380 bid on a box of 30,000 prints and negatives from an unknown photographer. Realizing the street photographs of 1950s/60s era Chicago and New York were of unusually high quality he purchased another lot of photographer’s work totaling some 100,000 photographic negatives, thousands of prints, 700 rolls of undeveloped color film, home movies, audio tape interviews, and original cameras.
Over time it became clear the photos belonged to a Chicago nanny named Vivian Maier who had photographed prolifically for nearly 40 years, but who never shared her work during her lifetime. Since the discovery Maier’s photographs have received international attention with collections touring in cities around the world as well as the publication of a book. Now, a documentary called Finding Vivian Maier directed by Maloof and Charlie Siskel is nearing completion and the trailer above is a tantalizing preview of what promises to me a fascinating film. Can’t wait. (via gapers block)
Ten years ago Chicago artist and designer Matthew Hoffman decided to print a batch of 100 stickers that read simply “You Are Beautiful” which he gave to friends and colleagues who found the phrase to be inspiring, hopeful, and infectious. Requests for the stickers began to trickle in so Hoffman started selling them in small batches online at You-Are-Beautiful.com. Demand quickly began to swell, so much so that he’s now printed over 500,000 of them. Soon the stickers were accompanied by numerous public art installations in Chicago and eventually the message began appearing around the world on fences, street overpasses, and sidewalks. To celebrate 10 years of ‘You Are Beautiful’ Matt is putting together a book with help from Kickstarter that documents the evolution of the project including photography, stories, and tons of really awesome rewards including his hand-cut wood signs and of course tons of stickers. Join me in helping Matt get this thing off the ground, there’s just three days left.
It seems like just a few days ago Chicago had huge ice news, and now this. For the past few weeks things have been pretty darned frigid here in the windy city with temperatures dropping down to the single digits, and just when we couldn’t take it anymore things started to warm up, in a massive-abandoned-warehouse-bursting-into-flames sort of way. Nearly 200 firefighters were on the scene in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood to battle the blaze and incredibly nobody was injured. Temperatures were so low during the fire that water sprayed on the building froze almost instantly leaving behind a spectacularly beautiful ice-encrusted wonderland. Photographers Robert R. Gigliotti, David Schalliol, and Darek Szupina stopped by yesterday and snapped these extraordinary photos. You can see much more over on the Chicago Tribune.
For nine decades Fulton Market Cold Storage Company operated in Chicago’s meatpacking district with a full ten stories of freezing storage situated close to major railways. Last summer the company decided it was time to start fresh in a state-of-the-art facility outside of Chicago, so the building was sold to SRAM, a bike component manufacturer who will use the space for its global headquarters. Architects Perkins + Will were hired to help convert the ice-encrusted space into a new, modernized office building and were also tasked with the most epic refrigerator defrost in history. Luckily photographer Gary Jensen was asked to snap some incredible photos prior to the thawing which was actually caught on video (sorry no embed). See more photos on his website. (via gapers block)
Update: I’ve been asked to clarify that the building owner is technically Sterling Bay and the architect of the conversion is Hartshorne and Plunkard. SRAM is a potential tenant in the building and Perkins & Will is their architect.
Using a rotring pen on white paper, Cornwall-based artist Mark Lascelles Thornton has embarked on a massive architectural drawing project called the The Happiness Machine. Each panel represents a stylized red and grayscale representation of architectural highlights from eight locations, so far including Chicago, New York, London and what appears to be a mix of Asian skyscrapers (Taipei, Kuala Lumpur, etc.). In addition to the meticulous detail of the buildings and clouds, the piece is all the more incredible considering its scale: the final piece will include eight panels spanning 8 ft. by 5 ft. (2.4 m. x 1.5 m.). The images here are great but you can see everything in much more detail over on his Tumblr. (via devid sketchbook)