British artist Brian Crosby shares a collection of incredibly detailed architectural watercolor paintings. View more of his portfolio by visiting his website.
While I was at school, my art teacher, Smithy, used to take us out, armed with wooden boards, to draw. Observational drawing typically of a greenhouse or some such. My compatriots would draw a lot of squiggly lines, which is odd as a greenhouse is all straight lines. Mine would show the metal frame, the crease near the edge of the frame, the tiny edge of putty and the glass itself—in straight lines. Smithy, kind teacher that he was, always encouraged me.
After I graduated, I went to art school and studied photography. This was long before digital photography of course. Now, armed with a cell phone, everyone is a photographer. Back in the day there were some seriously difficult skills–like putting 35mm film or roll film into a small processing tank using a spiral–all the while in the pitch black. The chemicals you would pour in to develop the film had to be within three degrees of set temperature.
When I worked as a photographer, I must have photographed over five hundred weddings! I believe I would still be very good at it. One claim to fame occurred while I was working at the Wildfowl Trust in Slimbridge—I had a 35mm film cassette thrust into my hands by Sir Peter Scott who announced that the film contained real shots of the Loch Ness Monster. One of the images showed the fin-leg-thing in the shape of a diamond, either that or bad practice by the person who developed the film. Either way, it was interpreted by some as evidence of the monster. Many national papers ran the picture, not to mention around the world.
There was no chance of advancement at the Wildfowl Trust, so I entered the world of advertising and design. I pasted text onto a board along with photos and other materials, which a printer would then photograph for printing as a lithograph.
In my late twenties I was also singing for fun and taking voice lessons as I had a huge bass voice. I really wanted to be a singer and decided to take the risk. I spend four years training full-time at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. Since I had begun painting for fun at this time, I used my artistic skill to help pay for my training. I began to cut my teeth on architectural art by asking landlords of Brummy Pubs if they would like a painting.
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Years later, I married a second time to lady who just wanted children. Under pressure to support my family, I passed a teacher training (PGCE) course. I tried to add to our household funds by creating greetings cards, doing commissions, illustrations and pet portraits. Making sure all my ventures would earn money certainly helped me focus my mind and my technique!
During the last twenty years, I have run a gallery in Cheltenham and produced some prestigious work for Hampton Court Palace, Blenheim Palace and many others. Although my website highlights a predominance of architectural paintings, I also have broad experience painting other subjects.
I am currently working on illustrations for a theatre in Las Vegas and the Theatre Royal in Haymarket. One of the ideas I’m excited by is featuring “bubbles” for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition next year. They are bound to go for it, aren’t they?
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