Stephen Magsig is a Detroit painter whose blog, Postcards from Detroit, is a “Painting a Day” style painting diary inspired by pioneering daily painters Duane Keiser and Juilan Merrow-Smith.
Magsig focuses on urban landscape, and most of his paintings are of urban scenes in Detroit and New York, where he is a part-time resident. He studied at Ferris State College and the College for Creative Studies, but considers himself essentially self taught as a painter.
His large scale gallery paintings are almost photo-realist in approach, but his smaller, more immediate works have a wonderfully painterly quality that works particularly well for his subject matter of industrial scenes, abandoned buildings, empty houses and architectural details.
There is something particularly appealing about the way Magsig applies his paint in quick, brusque strokes that seem to have a texture just right for the rough surfaces of the neglected buildings and weathered industrial structures he revels in portraying.
I particularly enjoy his Hopperesque portraits of abandoned houses, sometimes boarded up, surrounded by weeds, and surprisingly rich in color. I also like his beautiful industrial nocturnes, reminiscent of Whistler’s atmospheric images of the River Thames. You’ll also see echoes of Charles Sheeler’s industrial geometry in Magsig’s angular compositions of smokestacks, factory walls, bridges and gantries.
When browsing through his site, you’ll find more variation as you go back in time, with occasional forays into still life and traditional landscape. Be sure to click on the blog images to get to the large versions in which you can see the texture and application of the paint.
6 Replies to “Stephen Magsig”
These are gorgeous. I agree that the rough strokes really add something, and the colors are fantastic.
Stephen’s paintings are great. I am also reminded of Hopper by some of his solitary buildings or nocturnes with an occasional light on in a window. His bridge nocturnes are also amazing. Great color harmonies.
The day I first came across his work he had featured one of his beautiful nocturnes. I also immediately thought of Whistler, very rich, moody atmospheres and buildings obscured by fog. He’s a wonderful painter, his site is worth a daily visit.
Along with Hopper and Whistler, I see a little John Register as well. Beautiful, haunting work, like a Tom Waits song in oil paint.
This is what I wanted to do with my life but instead find myself developing web applications and the occasional public site/marketing materials for the world’s largest textbook publishing company. Stephen’s work makes me wish I perhaps had followed a different path.
Vincent van Gogh didn’t take up painting until the age of 28.
Good point, Charley. Thank you for that cheer and for all the work you do — linesandcolors is a must-read for me.
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