Buildings, Boats, and City Streets: Paintings by J.K. Chapman

Published Apr. 23rd 2008

J.K. Chapman is an artist from the UK whose paintings are an interesting blend of pen and ink illustration, architectural design, and traditional painting techniques.

His most recent works explore crowded city scenes—crowded not with people, necessarily, but packed tight with buildings and other structures that seem to occasionally defy three dimensional space.

Canning Dock 1911 by JK Chapman

In fact, some of Chapman’s cityscapes are put together like composite sketches, drawn from alternate perspectives before being filled in with solid sections of color.

In that regard, Chapman’s paintings display some elements of Cubism, and yet the overall goal of Chapman’s work is realism, not abstraction, which makes for interesting compositions to say the least.

Georges Dock 1885 by JK Chapman

Chapman also uses dark ink outlines to “solidify” his city scenes (note the edges of the buildings above) and in doing so, he’s effectively compressed the space within his paintings, pushing building against building to crowd the canvas with as much visual information as possible.

All that information hits the viewer’s eyes at one time, forming a dense mass of buildings and boats (or whatever else is in that particular piece) with each one vying for complete attention.

In addition, Chapman’s ink-and-acrylic technique gives his paintings a decidedly unique illustrative feel, somewhat similar in style to high-end graphic novels, yet painted on a much grander scale.

Lord Street 1908 by JK Chapman

And to me, at least, (perhaps because of that graphic novel association) Chapman’s paintings also carry a clear narrative message.

You see, amidst the crowded structures everything seems calm and quiet, but I can almost sense the calm before the storm. . . or in some cases, the stark and lonely aftermath of an event too wide, to important, for mere words.

To see more of J.K. Chapman’s paintings, visit his website at

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