Located five miles north of Richmond, Virginia, the former Reynolds Metals Company Headquarters was completed in 1958 and designed by Gordon Bunshaft of SOM. To demonstrate the many possible uses of aluminum to Reynolds’ visiting clients, the building featured more than 1.2 million pounds of the metal—integrated into everything from cladding to carpets. Architectural historian Richard Guy Wilson once said that the building “exemplifies the genius and promise of post–World War II American modernism”—qualities that made the case for the building to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places in the year 2000.
The juxtaposition between the 38-story CBS Building. 51 (Eero Saarinen & Associates, 1965), at center, with the Tishman Building (Carson & Lundin, 1957) at left, and the J.C. Penney Building (Shreve, Lamb & Harmon, 1965), at right, foreground in this picture looking southwest from West 53rd Street, near Avenue of the Americas. Spring, 1965.
I wanted to share some work in progress shots from one of my paintings (sorry for terrible cell phone quality). This is ‘View from the High Line - 26th Street’, completed late last year.
The painting is based on photos I took from the High Line park, which is a repurposed elevated railroad track that runs through parts of the Meatpacking District and Chelsea on the west side of Manhattan. I love the High Line because it is covered in lots of interesting plants, but the views are pretty great as well. From this vantage point, you can see the Hudson River and Jersey City at the end of the street in the far distance. The large building at the end of the street with the horizontal bands of windows is the Starrett-Lehigh Building. Built 1930-31, it is an interesting early example of International-Style Modern architecture in an industrial building. This was historically a very industrial area, but it is now the heart of the Chelsea gallery district. The buildings on the left and right foreground, along with most of this block, are home to several high-end galleries.
For the painting, I worked on Arches Hot Press 300lb watercolor paper. The size of the art is roughly
18 x 26 inches. I start with a detailed perspective drawing of the entire scene in pencil. As you can see from the progress photos, I worked from left to right, nearly finishing each section of the painting as I go - but always going back and polishing previous sections as needed. This strategy of moving across the painting helps me keep track of how much progress I have made, but i do not focus in on each little section and mechanically copy inch by inch from the photo. As with all watercolor, the painting generally starts light and the darkest colors and finest details are added last by necessity. I use a mix of watercolor tubes, most of which are Winsor Newton brand. I didn’t use any gouache or opaque white. I usually use a small amount of masking fluid and masking tape but I don’t think I needed much for this painting.
From start of the drawing to finish, this painting took about one month to complete - working on average a few hours a day.
I approach the overall process of a painting like this as if it were a traditional landscape painting. I am most concerned with balancing lights and darks, color vibrancy, warm/cool, etc. throughout the whole painting so that the final product is harmonious and compostionally pleasing. Balance was incredibly important in a composition like this one, which is so dramatically split down the middle.
Sorry for rambling on, hopefully someone finds this interesting!
“Although I think in 100 years the architecture done today will be bundled up under the ism: Post-Modernism (but that is a discussion for another day), there was a specific time when that movement became a joke of itself.
I think we are still in Post-Modernism because there has not been a new ideology to overthrow its ideals and take over as the one leading vision.