Stephen Magsig: Capturing Urban Landscapes in Oils

Published May 13th 2009


The American painter Edward Hopper once said “Great art is the outward expression of an inner life in the artist.” In my opinion, this statement describes Stephen Magsig’s collection of art perfectly—and I’d even say there’s a little hint of Hopper’s style in Stephen’s technique.

A self-taught artist, Stephen Magsig grew up and now resides in Michigan. He’s been painting city scenes from Detroit for over 25 years, and as he states on his website, he “continues to find inspiration in the place [he] calls home.”

In the summer of 2007, intrigued by other daily bloggers, he started his own website called Postcards from Detroit to showcase his urban landscapes. He has been blogging his daily paintings ever since.

Stephen has a bold, yet simple approach to landscape painting. He is meticulous about using composition, light placement and brushstroke texture to reinforce his subject’s prominence.

DetroitLandscape5

In the painting above, he centers an angular, industrial building, captures the sunlight to reinforce its redness, then surrounds it with brush-stroke induced drifts of snow.

Stephen is able to portray the somber mood of this industrial area through his muted colors and vacant landscape.

This next piece captures a wonderful view looking up towards a classical building. Again, a careful use of brush strokes strengthens the vertical line, reinforcing the structure’s height and pulling the viewer’s gaze into the textured, airy sky.

MichiganCentralVI

Even though Stephen uses dark colors throughout, enough contrasting light is carefully placed in the painting to give the impression of a bright, sunny day downtown.

And if you think you’ve got his style pegged, think again. Some of my favorite paintings from his collection are his City Lights paintings, which depict Detroit’s streets at night.

Citylights40

They seem so simple, with dark buildings, dark sky and dark roadways, all punctuated with bright circles of light—yet it’s obvious that each one shows a specific location at a specific time, and the concept behind them is brilliant.

If you have a moment today, I’d encourage you to check out Stephen Magsig’s blog, Postcards from Detroit. It’s well worth a visit.

Did you like this article? Share it!
Then check out the related posts below.
Cities are full of energy and life all their own. To capture that energy in paint takes true talent. . . and I think you'll agree that Stephen Dobson has that talent in spades. Working from his studio in Canada, Stephen focuses on communicating the emotion and "feeling" he gets from compelling. . . read more
Today's featured artist is Leanne Christie, a Vancouver, Canada oil painter with a true gift for creating dramatic cityscapes and landscapes. Raised in South Africa, Leanne journeyed the world after college graduation. After ten years she found herself in Vancouver, inspired by its striking la. . . read more
There is a subtle difference between just painting an urban scene and painting an urban environment. John O’Reilly successfully does both. Having grown up in inner city Dublin, Ireland, John has always had a special relationship with the urban landscape. Today he creates oil paintings of allur. . . read more
Visit a farmer’s market and you'll find an art gallery unto itself, filled with the beautiful colors of fresh fruits and vegetables. . . drop by Jennie Brigham's website and you'll see the same thing—bright and bold oil paintings of delectable fruit. Currently living in Colorado, Jennie has fo. . . read more
This week’s featured artist is Stephen Farley, an abstract painter from the UK whose work emphasizes the tactile experience of art just as much as the visual experience. The photograph above shows a close-up of some of the texture he includes in his work, and there are more close-up images on . . . read more
Stay current.
Subscribe to EmptyEasel's free weekly newsletter for artists. Sign up today!
CanvasFlyer
Art Contests
More art contests. . .
EE Writers
Alyice Edrich Cassie Rief Steff Metal Niki Hilsabeck Brandi Bowman Michelle Morris Lisa Orgler Adriana Guidi Carrie Lewis Aletta de Wal Erin SparlerLuke Montgomery

Want to be a writer for EmptyEasel? Paid positions are available, and the perks are great! Contact us to apply