with Nathan Walsh
Bewildering Reflections and Perspectives Shift in the Hyperrealistic Oil Paintings of Nathan Walsh
In his intricate oil paintings, Nathan Walsh captures the textural sheen of rain on city streets and luminescent reflections in cafe windows. The artist has previously explored different vantage points in elaborate cityscapes, rendering the corners of buildings, corridors of skyscrapers, and expansive bridges in detailed, two-point perspective. Recently, he has further honed ideas around perception and the way the built environment presents uncanny optical illusions in the interplay of people and objects, light, and reflections.
The ideas for Walsh’s compositions often form as he wanders the streets of cities like New York and Paris, making sketches and taking photographs that he brings back to his studio, a converted Welsh Methodist chapel. “Up until last year, my work had been exclusively devoted to the urban landscape,” he tells Colossal, sharing that various objects like those spotted in an antique shop window in Paris’s 7th arrondissement signaled new references to his ideas around place and familiarity. He says:
I would travel, collect information, then return to my studio to respond to that material. “Metaphores” started in the same way: a trip to Paris, wandering aimlessly around the streets looking for ideas. On my return to the U.K., I realised a lot of the photographs and drawings I’d made were touching on similar subject matter to [my] home environment.
Pieces like “Metaphores” or “Rue de Saints” represent a shift in Walsh’s understanding of the urban landscape or more concisely, of how it is experienced. Elaborate window reflections warp our sense of space and fuse realism with imagination, such as in “Monarchs Drift,” in which the artist has spliced together scenes of Chicago and San Francisco. Walsh imbues the works with what he describes as a “hallucinatory quality which is ‘neither here nor there,'” embracing notions of transition, global connections, and his own memories of trips he has taken.
Walsh’s paintings will be featured in a forthcoming book published by Thames & Hudson dedicated to urban landscapes, and you can find more of his work on his website and Instagram.
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Multiple Perspectives Form Elaborately Detailed Cityscapes by Nathan Walsh
British artist Nathan Walsh (previously) creates oil painted cityscapes by combining reference images from a range of perspectives and angles. His latest work Catching Fire was created from a combination of photographs taken during three visits to New York City over a two year period. The painting more accurately captures the feeling of Times Square rather an exact representation, presenting multiple horizon points to make the viewer feel as if they are at the center of the neon-washed environment.
In addition to taking numerous photographs of his chosen location, Walsh also spends time sketching his surroundings in a series of thumbnail drawings. “Of late I’ve found the sketchbook to be of increasing importance even for notes on color or whatever I happen to be thinking about at the time,” he tells Colossal. “This immediate personal response to the environment plays an important role when I’m back in my studio in the United Kingdom and reliant on the photographs taken.”
Once he’s decided on the subject and scale of the painting, he draws in elements in a fairly loose and intuitive way. “Freehand drawing is fundamental to all of my work, allowing me to take full ownership of photographic material,” he explains. “Rejecting the mechanical transfer of imagery forces me to construct each object from scratch and allows for a fluid and inventive approach.”
By selecting segments from a variety of photographs of each scene, Walsh is able to construct his own reality of a space within an urban environment. This includes shifting key elements of his paintings into what he describes as different perspective “zones,” which he explains allows his works to more closely relate to how we experience a city while we are walking through it.
Over the last three years, Walsh’s paintings have begun to focus more heavily on the weather conditions present in a particular location, homing in on the reflective sidewalks produced during a rainstorm or the geometric bands of light that infiltrate an urban space during a bright, cloudless day. You can view of a selection of Walsh’s New York City paintings in his upcoming solo exhibition at Bernarducci Gallery in Manhattan, which opens September 6 and runs through September 29, 2018. More of Walsh’s cityscapes can be seen on his Instagram and Twitter.
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Nathan Walsh’s Unusual Urban Landscapes Painted Atop Precise Graphite Sketches
Trying to pin down exactly what makes these urban landscape paintings by British artist Nathan Walsh (previously) so unusual is difficult, in part because of the variety of techniques he employs to get from a vision in his mind to the final, exacting artwork.
Starting with his own photographic references, Walsh first draws an elaborate blueprint of sorts by establishing a horizon line and a host of perspective strategies that varies from piece to piece. This is followed by several months of painting with oils to achieve the final landscape that appears to be a strange hybrid of both illustrative and photorealistic styles. Photography, architecture, and painting converge to create a “painted world which in some ways resembles the world we live in,” says Walsh. “The work aims to create credible and convincing space which whilst making reference to our world, displays its own distinct logic.”
Walsh is currently preparing for a group show titled “Cityscape Paintings: Looking from the Outside In” at Bernarducci Meisel Gallery in October, followed by a solo show during the same period in 2016. You can follow more of his work in progress on Facebook.
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Realistic Urban Landscape Paintings of Chicago and New York by Nathan Walsh
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.
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