Painting Buildings in Watercolor

Light and Dark at the Same Time (watercolor, 30×22)

Painting buildings in watercolor isn’t necessarily novel. Architects have historically made their preliminary renderings in the medium but, as Park points out, those paintings tend to be more expressive and less angular than her own. Hers are not preliminary works or sketches; they’re final, glowing works that display the versatility of watercolor in close-ups of geometric structural components.

By its nature, watercolor is willful and notoriously difficult to master. It blooms like a flower on paper, like a plant growing beyond the confines of the sidewalk. So, to render buildings in watercolor, much less to master painting a straight line with it, is quite a challenge. This is part of the reason Park enjoys watercolor so much: the challenge of controlling the roving medium and painting objects so completely rigid and strong.

From Photo to Finish

Park uses reference photos but doesn’t render a building exactly from the picture; her photos are admittedly blurry. She uses a small Nikon Coolpix S600 10.0 mega pixels digital camera (with a 4X optical zoom) to take the images and then simply glances at them while she paints.

The photos always surprise people, as a final painting is vastly different from its source photo. She interprets each photograph liberally, changing perspective, color or both. You can see how one of her reference photos (below) differs from the final painting Light and Dark at the Same Time (above; watercolor, 30×22).

Amy Park (reference photo)

Lisa Wurster is a freelance writer, editor and proofreader living in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Amy Park earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in fine art from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and also studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has won several awards, including the Marie Walsh Sharpe Foundation Artist Residency in New York City. Her work has appeared in numerous group and solo exhibitions in the United States, and overseas in Germany, Brussels and England. She teaches drawing and watercolor at the 92nd Street Y in New York City. Her website is


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