Art Deco

Art Deco by Charlie O'Shields

Kansas City is ranked as one of the ten best cities with examples of Art Deco architecture. This doodlewash is of the top of the Kansas City Power & Light building, which is a treasured landmark and an Art Deco structure that held the title of the tallest habitable building in Missouri for 45 years. No idea what the tallest uninhabitable building was like, but it sounds scary.

Art Deco is an influential visual arts design style that first appeared in France after World War I and began flourishing internationally in the 1920s, 30s and 40s before its popularity waned after World War II.  According to Wikipedia, it is an eclectic style that combines traditional craft motifs with Machine Age imagery and materials. The style is often characterized by rich colors, bold geometric shapes and lavish ornamentation. In other words… a lot of lines in a sketch!

I tried this one with just Raw Umber, Cobalt Blue, and Cobalt Turquoise for a very limited palette. There were so many lines and various levels that I sort of got lost trying to sketch all, but it generally looks like the subject, so I’m pretty happy with the result.

Sketching Kansas City has been a fun exercise as I’m learning more and more about the place I call home as I go! I used to work in this building for 5 years, and never really knew about its heritage and design. I had an office on the 14th floor. At night different colors of light project onto this top portion, giving it a reddish glow you can see easily from a distance. (I won’t share the name we gave it as kids!) I’m happy to be a native of KC and I hope you are enjoying this little tour!

Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie
  1. kungfunaomi 7 years ago

    That looks complicated!

  2. courtney 7 years ago

    Sooo gorgeous!

  3. Kari 7 years ago

    Wow, Charlie! This is impressive! Where did you start and what was your approach? I would totally be intimidated by all the details!

    • Author

      Thanks!! ❤️😃For this one I started with a photo as you can’t quite see all the detail from the ground. Then I just tried to fast sketch it getting the basic contours (but wow…soooo many contours! Lol) Then I went back to add some darks and shading with ink. Last step was watercolor and I just sort of splashed some on this one. There were so many lines already that I didn’t do as much with color as I normally would. But don’t be I intimidated!! I just started choosing complex subjects on purpose! Once you do a few, it gets much less intimidating! 😉 Just go for it, Kari! You’ll be surprised at what you can do! 😃😃

      • Kari 7 years ago

        I’m taking Liz Steel’s Edges class now and that combined with Marc’s class are helping me see things better. I just need to practice more. 😊

        • Author

          Yeah…in the end it’s just tons of practice! Hehe… but it’s really just about doing it daily and having fun! 😉

  4. Teresa Robeson 7 years ago

    I am SO enjoying this tour of KC with you! Thanks!

  5. memadtwo 7 years ago

    I love the crowns above the windows. You really capture the details. (K.)

    • Author

      Thanks Kerfe!! Glad you like it…yeah…I can’t seem to abstract things very well. I always end up with more detail than I intended! 😊😊

  6. Snehal Kank 7 years ago

    Good one Charlie, i can see the light and shade parts on building. Thanks for sharing the design history!

  7. Jill Kuhn 7 years ago

    I think you did FABULOUS Charlie!! I’m sooo enjoying your tour of KC! Keep up the great art and writing my friend! 😊🎨💚

  8. Jodi 7 years ago

    Amazing detail Charlie. So inspiring to watch your work and follow your progress such a wonderful tour of your hometown. Am so enjoying.

    • Author

      Awww that’s so sweet Jodi!! I’m so happy you joined me for this tour! (And are enjoying it! Hehe! Thanks friend!)

  9. Another “woop woop” for Charlie! 😀 Love your enthusiasm and talent, my friend!

  10. artandmoondreams 7 years ago

    What a grand looking building. Loving this tour and your beautiful art. Thank you for sharing.

  11. kirkistan 7 years ago

    Another very cool image Charlie. Those shadows! And the detail you add behind the pen strokes. It all really pulls me in. Nicely done.

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