From my point of view, there are schools of watercolor painting in which the approach is too loose — with ill defined forms and insufficient attention to edges — and others in which the approach feels too restrained — locked into rigid delineation.
Watercolor at its best, I think, is found not only in between those extremes, but in a harmonious blending of them, with a free application of color and tone over a foundation of solid draftsmanship.
This “sweet spot” is exemplified by the work of Thomas W. Schaller, who has for many years been one of the foremost proponents of watercolor architectural rendering, as well as a noted gallery watercolor artist.
I first mentioned Schaller on Lines and Colors back in 2005, in one of my earliest posts. Since then, he has moved from New York to California, and transitioned into gallery painting full time. His work, however, bears the fruit of his years of disciplined rendering and his love of architecture, as well as the freedom in handling his medium granted by his confident skill.
On his current site, you will find extensive galleries of his paintings arranged by geographical location. I particularly enjoy the wonderful geometric contrasts offered by his scenes of New York, both its streets and parks, and the beautiful textures of old towns and ancient monuments that abound in paintings from his travels in Europe.
Schaller’s fascination with architecture lends itself well to his playful renditions of light — expressed in the geometry of architectural forms, defining and revealing them and the space in which they exist.
Unfortunately, Schaller’s new site is one of those FASO sites in which the detail pages for each image open on a intermediate size image — too large to be a thumbnail and too small to be of any interest — that you must click past to get to the full size images (why some FASO sites have this intermediate image is a mystery to me, it’s like a left-over from the last century.) My advice is to click on the first thumbnail in a given section, click again to open the full size image, and then use the “Next” link at the top to click through the images sequentially, so you don’t have to click past the pointless middle image every time. You can find larger images on his blog.
Schaller’s work has been featured in numerous books and magazine articles on watercolor, and he is the author of two books: Architecture in Watercolor and The Art of Architectural Drawing. He is in the process of finishing work on a new title, The Architecture of Light. Schaller also teaches workshops in various locations, also under the title, The Architecture of Light.
There is a 2011 interview with the artist on the Art of Watercolor blog.