Animal Urges
Comments 6

The Old State House

When I was approached last year about doing a commission for Boston Children’s Hospital that would be colorful and fun, feature Boston buildings, and include animals, I thought: Yup, that’s definitely in my wheelhouse.

The Old State House Boston  The Old State House Boston

Above: “The Old State House” (60″ x 30″ 2 piece painting)

The hospital was renovating its imaging floor and looking to bring in art referencing sites along the Freedom Trail. As such, each corridor would be named for a street with a Freedom Trail connection. My street assignment was State Street, and more specifically, the Old State House.

I remember how appealing the look of the Old State House was to me when I first came to Boston 25 years ago. I especially liked the lion and unicorn statues on the upper front corners of the building, so unlike any buildings I’d known in my life in Miami. As I considered this project, I thought it’d be fun to play off the idea of tourists seeing those statues for the first time. But the tourists would be lions and unicorns, rather than humans, and pleased to see their own kind monumentalized.

The Old State House Boston

“The Old State House” (left side of diptych), Copyright © 2017 Paula Ogier

That’s not to say the lions and unicorns in the artwork weren’t humanized — they were.  They were given human forms to a large degree, as well as clothing. I wanted to create a correlating equivalent to tourists one might see walking around Boston taking in the historical sights, so the scene would feel simultaneously normal and surprising.

The Old State House Boston

“The Old State House” (right side of diptych), Copyright © 2017 Paula Ogier

The project began with an afternoon walk from my South End studio down through Downtown Crossing to the Old State House, where I took hundreds of photos of the building from different angles. What I most wanted to get was a straight ahead view, and that was pretty tough due to the configuration of the street in front of it. The best head-on view could really only be obtained while standing in the middle of the street, which I did, very carefully.

Dividing the artwork into two separate paintings, I began with the building itself. The building alone took me about two weeks to paint, mainly because of all the brickwork and mortar. My plan was to have a gathering of lions along the sidewalk nearest the lion statue, and unicorns gathered on the side with the unicorn. Then I added in one unicorn on the lion side, and one lion on the unicorn side for a little balance. To figure out how the pointing poses should look, I had a few friends pose for photos while they pointed up toward the sky.

The surrounding buildings were purposely painted more loosely, highlighting the architectural detail of the Old State House as well as how deceptively tiny it can feel in their looming presence.

This diptych was to be printed on plexiglas and wall mounted. I have to admit I was a little skeptical about the plexiglas, but when I saw it installed at the hospital I appreciated how luminous and sleek it appeared.

Note: I’ve set the two images at the beginning of this post to show side by side, so that you can see the entire diptych image. If you’re looking at it on a mobile device, however, you won’t see them side by side.

If you’d like to know more about the Old State House, here are a few resources:

A 2014 Boston.com story about the refurbishment of the lion and unicorn statues.

The Bostonian Society’s History of the Old State House.

Thanks for reading.

Paula

Paula Ogier Artworks

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This entry was posted in: Animal Urges

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Hi there. I’m Boston-based digital artist Paula Ogier. In this blog I write about about my art business, new works, projects in process, life in Boston, inspirations, ideas, and creative challenges. I live and work in Boston's South End neighborhood, in the enclave known as the SoWa Art + Design district. I'm fond of big cities, architecture, great imaginative spaces, food & drink, gardening, wandering around the city on foot, binge-watching well written shows, talking to cats, and of course, making and experiencing art. Artist website: PaulaOgierArt.com. Twitter: Paula Ogier Artworks My studio is at 450 Harrison Avenue, Studio 203.

6 Comments

  1. What a great (and time-consuming!) creative project! I love the colors and the idea of lion/unicorn tourists — as well as your yin/yang decision to add one lion to the unicorn group and one unicorn to the lion group…

    Like

    • Thanks, Will. Turquoise hues with orange hues is probably my favorite palette. There is also another aspect that informs the color choices, which is that some colors (at least in any predominant or obvious way) are considered off-limits when creating art for this environment.
      Thanks for reading.

      Like

  2. Wonderful project – it will really inspire the imagination of the kids at Children’s (and their parents)! I particularly love the humorous ‘touch’ of the businesses ‘Mane Stylist’ and ‘Uniforms’ and ‘Unicyclist’ – very funny & clever!

    Like

    • Thank you so much, Liz! I love that you noticed that (it’s hard to see all the details in this format). There’s also a book in the back pocket of the unicorn boy called “Unique Poems,” and the camera attached to the woman next to him is labeled UNI-LENS. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Liz Cahill says

    Hey Paula, I need to change ‘Unicyclist’ to ‘Unicycles’ in my comment on your Blog. Love this project!

    Hey – I only recently learned of your accident. So very sorry! I’ve seen your posts on FB. How you holding up?

    xoxo

    On Sun, Feb 11, 2018 at 4:09 PM Let Me Illustrate My Point wrote:

    > Paula Ogier posted: “When I was approached last year about doing a > commission for Boston Children’s Hospital that would be colorful and fun, > feature Boston buildings, and include animals, I thought: Yup, that’s > definitely in my wheelhouse. Above: “The Old State House” (6″ >

    Like

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