It’s hard to believe Lou Shapiro’s signature style of building, streetscape and city sketches has only been developed over the last year or so. But his years of painting coupled with a vocation as an architect bring something really special to his artwork. His locally themed works initially caught our attention but what inspired us most is his passion for creating. He’s not only created over 70 sketches in the past year, but he’s written a book. We are very excited to have Lou Shapiro at this year’s Arts on the Square.
Tell us a little about yourself as an artist and the mediums you work in.
As an artist, I’m somewhat of a rookie. Although I did sketch a bit many years ago while in architectural school, that was the last of it since my graduation many years ago. After my retirement from the practice of architecture in the beginning of 2015, I gave some thought to trying my hand at sketching once again, but it was nothing more than a mere thought for the next year. Finally, in February of last year I began to experiment with some pencil sketching. The first few efforts were not particular good (and that’s a kind assessment!), but then the next few produced some results which surprised even me.
That improvement provided new motivation for me to continue with my sketching efforts, and in the past fifteen months or so I have completed somewhere around seventy sketches. Thus far my subjects have all been either buildings or city/streetscapes, both almost certainly an outgrowth of my architectural training. After producing some pencil sketches which represent some of my best work to date, I expanded my horizons by beginning to experiment with ink and small splashes of color. It wasn’t long before those small slashes became much larger splashes and then, finally, full color sketches.
The medium I use for the color is professional type color markers which, I have been told, is not typically used for this type of sketching. My earlier color sketches (from mid 2016) are all free hand with color which I refer to as “building cartoons”. As the year progressed, I began to combine freehand with some ruled (straight edge) lines which enabled me to produce a much higher degree of detail in my sketches. This extent of detail is much more difficult to achieve in watercolor. Although I have several favorites among these sketches, my favorite pencil sketch is the one of the residence in Greenridge on the corner of Delaware St. and N. Washington Ave. My favorite color sketch is probably The Begnet Cafe on Bourbon St. in New Orleans, although another favorite is the night time view of Times Square in New York.
What types of work will you be featuring at AOTS?
As far as what I’ll be showing at Arts on the Square, there will most likely be around 26 of my pencil and color sketches, as well as one of the major acrylic pieces.
Do you have a favorite piece?
I have two favorites among my acrylic works. My favorite is a single composition consisting of 15 separate pieces. I had thought about doing something like that with many pieces for several years, but I was still working full time then and simply did not have enough time to pursue it. Then, while shopping with my wife in Ikea in Philly many years ago, I came upon some square shadow box frames that I knew would be perfect for the multi component piece I had been mulling around in my head for all those years. I thought about it for a few moments and then decided that three horizontal rows of five each would probably work. Over the next several months when ever I had a few minutes I would do very rough sketches of what would go into each of the frames. The finished piece consists of 15 of the Ikea frames each of which is nine inches square containing a six inch square geometric graphic utilizing only the colors red, orange and yellow.
Are there any other interesting tidbits about Lou Shapiro that we should know?
My art work is not just confined to the sketching described above. Following the birth of my first daughter 46 years ago, I decided to do some sort of a colorful acrylic painting that would give her something to focus on during her feedings. That first acrylic painting was a bit more than 5 feet by 3 feet and was based on geometric forms and primary colors. Over the past 46 years, and on a very sporadic basis, I have added another ten or so pieces some of which are made up of multiple pieces and others which are built from painted wood pieces and are three dimensional in nature. While some people have called these pieces “abstract”, I prefer the term “geometric graphics” which I feel is more descriptive. Regardless of what you call them, my preference for bright colors, crisp forms and the superimposing of one translucent color over another are common elements of these pieces.
And last, but certainly not least, for the past five years I have also been doing a lot of writing, most of it nonfiction, mainly humor and satire. My Facebook page and new website (both thanks to the efforts of my daughter, Sally) contain examples off my art work as well as selected chapters from my latest book, “Things That Really Piss Me Off”. Every week or so we upload a few more pieces of art and another chapter from the book.
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