Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Artist Spotlight: Scott Houston McBee.


 
I first saw the paintings of artist Scott Houston McBee some time ago on the blog WHAT IS JAMES WEARING? written by James Andrews, a fellow interior designer and Scott's longtime partner. My interest in his work was instantly piqued and I immediately found my way to his website.

Once there I found Scott's "Ocean Liners" series, a wonderful collection of some of the most amazing vessels to ever grace a body of water. It was obvious that each painting had been created in painstaking and incredibly accurate detail. Scott's love of this subject matter was quite evident. It is this level of skill and passion that truly attracts me to an artist's body of work. To say that I am a fan of his work is nothing short of a vast understatement.

When deciding to do another "Artist Spotlight" post it only took a short span of time to choose Scott. I contacted him and thankfully he agreed to be interviewed for this very post. After a bit of email tag, we set up a time to talk and had a lovely conversation about his background with ships, how he works, and what he is currently working on.

Normandie
(Scott's favourite)

Scott's love of ocean liners began when his mother gave him a copy of  A Night to Remember by Walter Lord, the classic minute-by-minute account of the sinking of the Titanic. This small gift sparked something in him that has endured throughout his life. From then on he found himself building models of and constantly sketching boats. This continued until he went off to college and he thought he had to "grow up" and put this childish obsession aside. Who among us hasn't done the same thing?
 
In 1989, Scott moved to NYC. One day, he was down by the Hudson River and fell asleep on a bench. He suddenly awoke just as the QE2 was passing in front of him. He said that "it was as if something woke [him] up right at that moment because [he] was supposed to see that ship passing by."  There is something I love so much about that. From that time, he knew what he must do.

Breman
(My wife favourite)
Atmah
(One of my favourites)

So, six years ago, shortly after the revelation on the Hudson, Scott took some time off work and began working on his "Ocean Liners" series. Scott told me that he is constantly researching new ships, pouring over old blueprints, searching for photographs from any books that he can track down on the subject, and spending late nights mining through trillions of images online. One can only imagine the wealth of materials he must now have.
 
This series is all executed in gouache and India ink on archival paper and are done in large scale. The Normandie is 3ft x 8ft, roughly average size for the ocean liners, and the steam yachts (like the Atmah and Standart) typically run 3ft x 5 ft.  Scott said that each painting generally takes between one and two months to complete, and on top of the seventeen already in the series, he has another 50 or 60 planned...a true lifelong passion.
 
Ile De France
(James' favourite)
Standart
(This is my absolute favourite piece)

Along with the regular series, Scott has done several commissioned pieces. He told me that he has been contacted by individuals from around the world to have him create a painting of their favourite ship or of a yacht that they currently own. He said that one gentleman commissioned him to do two paintings (seen below). One of the aircraft carrier he had served on when he was in the Royal Navy, the HMS Illustrious (the only military ship Scott has done) and the other was for the Cunard liner the RMS Queen Mary. It is my deep desire to one day have a client that will commission a piece from him...and to be able to commission a piece myself.
 
HMS Illustrious
RMS Queen Mary
 
Scott also shared with me a little sneak peak at a series he is currently working on called "Coral and Gold Leaf", paintings of marine life from around the Bahamas. He got the idea for the series while he and James were in Lyford Cay, a private gated community located on the western tip of New Providence Island, Bahamas (Lyford Cay, FYI, is considered one of the world's wealthiest and most exclusive neighborhoods). Here is a little taste of the new series.
 
Lyford Octopus
 
In closing, I would very much like to thank Scott Houston McBee again for the lovely conversation and for sharing a bit of your passion and your art with me; it has indeed been a privilege.
 
Best,
Brion
 

2 comments:

Karen said...

Briton,
What lovely work. I like the Breman but would love any of them in my home. The octopus is stunning...I can see the series of sea creatures peeking the interest of many.
Thanks for bringing this work to our attention.
Karen

Brion R. Judge said...

Karen,

I know what you mean, I would have any piece in my home too. To give a bit of a spoiler, there will be a post on the Coral and Gold Leaf when he finishes the series so definitely keep an eye out.

I am quite thrilled to be able to share Scotts work with everyone. I'm glad you like it.

Best,
Brion

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