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Architectural Detail: Why I Paint It

Architectural Detail: Why I Paint It

A Favourite Subject

One of my favourite types of subject to paint is architecture. Generally not entire buildings, you understand, just bits of them – what I call architectural detail.

Okay, I know architectural detail doesn’t sound enthralling. It sounds technical. But the technical aspect of architecture isn’t what interests me.


I often try to capture the way strong light can transform an ordinary feature of a building into something special. Strong light will create deep shadows, and the interplay of light and shadow adds visual interest. Imagine how the outside of a building, your own home maybe, looks on a dull, cloudy day. It doesn’t inspire you, does it? Now re-imagine it in bright sunshine, with the light bringing out the building’s true colour, and casting shadows that seem to strengthen its features. That’s the effect that fascinates me.

Another thing I like is the way that plants – trees or flowers, say – with their organic shapes can also transform the look of a building. Buildings are about hard, straight lines and geometric forms. And plants aren’t. It’s the contrast in shape between buildings and plants that appeals to me. Plants soften buildings. So I often include some plant life when I paint architectural detail.


In my Portfolio, right now, the only piece of architectural detail is my painting “Winged Lion”. Done in shades of grey and black, it’s not exactly typical of what I do. (I was getting something out of my system when I did that one.) The pic I’ve used in this post shows a more typical painting, but it’s a much older one that I don’t have any more, the façade of an old police station on the island of Menorca. Notice the bars on the window!

There will be more ‘architectural detail’ in the Portfolio before long.

Lots of artists paint architecture. I have a Pinterest board filled with great examples: click here to view the board and check out a whole load of wonderful paintings by artists all over the world.

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