Digital Gothic: Cityscape Paintings and Photos of the University of Chicago – Leon Sarantos

Botany Pond
I have explored several genres and styles over the years, including cityscape and landscape paintings, as well as portraits and figurative art.  The unifying theme in my art is conveying the feeling or mood evoked in me by the subject of my painting.  My first focus in creating a painting is the interplay of color, and that has always been very consistent in my work.  My next two aims include the prominent use of strong heavy lines, and the extreme gradation from light to dark color values.  I select the subjects of my paintings when I have an emotional reaction to a person or scene.  It is usually a pleasant or good feeling, although it can also be sad or foreboding.
Chicago on Canvas:  Cityscape Paintings of the University of Chicago
This series of paintings focuses on the Main Quadrangle at the University of Chicago campus, including Botany Pond, C-Shop,  Bond Chapel,  Gargoyle Overlooking Hull Court, and a work in progress, Cobb Hall.  Recently, my Botany Pond painting won first  prize at the South Side Impressions Exhibit, at the Beverly Art Center.
C-Shop, Coffee Shop at University of Chicago
I’m an architect, as well as an artist, and my paintings are inspired by the enduring beauty of the Gothic Revival architecture in the Main Quadrangle. I’ve lived in Hyde Park for many years now and my paintings reflect my experiences: walking through the campus, picnicking at Botany Pond, and having a hot cup of coffee at the C-Shop on a winter’s day.
Bond Chapel
The solid, grey stone buildings surrounding the Main Quadrangle symbolize the stable framework and traditions of the university.  In contrast, the students are portrayed in bright red, yellow and blue, suggesting the life and vibrant diversity of the ever-changing student population.  The modernity, which the students represent, is illustrated with their multiple electronic devices.  In juxtaposition, these images contain the tension of stability and change.
Gargoyle Overlooking Hull Court

Cityscape Photographs of the University of Chicago

I often take photographs of the scenes I plan to paint for reference, including many architectural details. In doing so, I have begun exploring the effects of digital variations in light and color.  These experiments provide another window into the contrast of tradition and modern times.  The enduring architecture from the Gothic-revival era is expressed in almost non-objective terms, with strong variations of light and dark and with non-representational uses of color.  This series of photos includes digitally altered views of architectural details, such as the waterspout on Bond Chapel, flowers at Botany Pond, and the Gargoyle at Cobb Gate.

Waterspout on Bond Chapel

Blue Flowers at Botany Pond

Gargoyle at Cobb Gate

Turret Detail at Cobb Hall

Cobb Hall Lamp With Red and Green Ivy

The photo of Cobb Hall Lamp is currently on view at the Member’s Show, Cornerstone Art Center & Gallery is in the Centier Bank building at 1500 119th Street, Whiting, Indiana, and the exhibit can be seen during bank hours.

More of my paintings, as well as my bio, can be viewed on my web site at:

One thought

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