Iceland     I    Yao Cheng Design

Iceland   I  Yao Cheng Design

The idea of painting cityscapes and buildings first came to me when I was on my honeymoon in the Amalfi Coast about 3 years ago.  My husband and I were walking through the towns and I was very captivated by the colorful buildings and their shapes.  Each one had its own character and I was just so compelled to paint them.  As I sat with my sketchbook, I wasn't looking to capture every building in front of me, but rather, the overall ambiance of the place.  Our Positano art print was a version of my sketch painting from that trip!

Yao Cheng Design- Amalfi Coast- Watercolor Sketchbook
   Positano     I    Yao Cheng Design

Positano   I  Yao Cheng Design

From that piece forward, I found that every city had its own unique character.  I've always loved traveling, and paintings seems like an interesting way to get to know a place from the outside!  I was a bit hesitant to release a series like that of our Cityscape line because it is very different from the work that I am typically known for.  Rather than painting with broad strokes and simplifying shapes or motifs down to its most essential, these paintings are about every detail.  It is also more illustrative, whereas my work teeters somewhere in the middle between commercial and fine art.  Nevertheless, I was really curious to explore this avenue and see what would come out of it!

My personality is very fitting to my approach with these city paintings.  I am a type A person, so I enjoy making check lists and scheduling everything I do down to the minute.  That might seem odd for someone like me whose work is so much about letting go and improvising.  However, creating rules and boundaries for myself is the only way I can feel open to let go and explore.  If every option for an idea was on the table and there were no rules set in place to keep me on track, I would forever lose focus and not create anything interesting!  Anyway, during my undergraduate program in Textiles, I spent 2 years weaving through the night.  I loved the repetitive motion of making fabric in this way because it felt meditative to focus on one task and see something form right in front of you!  My creative brain tends to meander all over the place, so I very much need projects where I only focus on one thing.  This is how I felt about each of these city prints.  I could spend hours getting totally lost in the buildings, their balconies, and endless window panes...

Geometry always makes its way into my work.  I think it's because it is an integral part of my subconscious and how I make sense of the world...  I remember going through book after book in college, looking at architecture and studying symmetry and hard lines.  I see geometry as a chance to both work within constraints, as well as a chance to break them.  That balance is something I thought about a lot while painting each city.  Every building has precise boundaries, but by bringing in my organic strokes, they feel a little softer and more personal.  The fact that I did not use a ruler with any of these pieces is a little maddening, but ultimately freeing.  I love that the end result gives each building their own unique character!

Nature is also a large influence in my work.  While I was researching locations to paint, I was looking for those with trees or majestic landscapes in the backdrop because I think they add another layer of richness to a painting.  The Seattle art print is a great example of this!  The backdrop to this city is absolutely amazing, so I wanted to make sure I put emphasis there.  The same is true of the Icelandic piece.  The snowy mountains in the background were so fun to create. 

   Charleston     I    Yao Cheng Design

Charleston   I  Yao Cheng Design

   Seattle     I    Yao Cheng Design

Seattle   I  Yao Cheng Design

Some of these artworks also came from my work with custom wedding invitations!  Over the last few years, I've had the pleasure of creating many custom maps for brides.  All of those pieces were of places that I would have not thought of to paint.  Working on custom projects really pushes me to go outside of what I know and am comfortable with and explore something new.  One of those projects was for a lovely Chicago couple.  They wanted me to highlight certain landmarks in the city that was special to them.  Millennium park is one of those landmarks and I've always been curious about the Cloud Gate sculpture and was happy to paint it.  That print, along with our Dallas cityscape print, were among our wedding pieces that we felt would be an exciting addition to this Cityscape series!

   Chicago     I    Yao Cheng Design

Chicago   I  Yao Cheng Design

   Columbus     I    Yao Cheng Design

Columbus   I  Yao Cheng Design

   Dallas     I    Yao Cheng Design

Dallas   I  Yao Cheng Design

Last but not least, I wanted to share a little bit about the Columbus piece.  This city is now my home and where I have lived for the last 8 years.  It was the place where I really grew into my own person after college, met my husband, and started a family.  I love this city for all of the memories I have created, the life that I've built, and the friends that I've come to known.  I wanted to capture a view of our downtown the way that I see it everyday as I drive into work.  I think this is how everyone feels about their own city because a place is so much more than just that, it represents and encompasses so much of our memories and liveliness!

I am looking to expand this series and paint new places as I come across them.  If you guys have any suggestions of a city or town that you'd like to see me paint, please comment below!

We are heading to Chicago this weekend for their annual Renegade Craft Show.  If you are in town and would like to see these prints first in person, come by and say hello.  We will be at booth #244 on September 9-10th from 11am-7pm.  Can't wait to showcase this collection to you Chicagoans!

Have a fabulous weekend,



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