Artist explores world through watercolor

A St. Louis native, Sarah Weinman writes a weekly visual arts blog for the Light (

By Sarah Weinman

Before I went to the exhibition Architectural Water Colors by Harry Richman, AIA at Landmarks Association, I wouldn’t have expected an architect to be so darn talented with watercolors. Harry Richman spent his career as an architect and only when he retired did he start painting. His work is saturated with color and light; a rainbow of color emerges in nearly every work, as if you were looking at it through a prism.

Subject matter in Richman’s work is as varied as his colors: New England seashores; industrial equipment; St. Louis landmarks such as Union Station and the Soulard Market; and “picture postcard” images of famous architectural icons like the Alhambra in Spain, Ponte Vecchio in Italy, and St. Basil’s Cathedral in Russia.


The New England seashore scenes are especially evocative for someone like me, a native Missourian who has never lived near the ocean. A white lighthouse rises up into blue sky in Pemaquid Point (#8). I can almost feel the breeze blowing in from the deep blue sea.

Coast of Maine (#5) reminds me of the Pacific Northwest. Large rocks jut up out of the ground, reflecting every color of the rainbow from red to purple. A forest of evergreen trees stands on the far shore. Boats with lowered sails drift on the water. I know how the sand would feel between my toes, and I can imagine the smell of the ocean.

I particularly like Richman’s images of famous monuments which he paints from a “tourist’s perspective.” In Duomo (#27), the church of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence rears up from the end of a windy street. We see only part of the building and it’s hard to get a sense of the size. This is how many people actually approach the Duomo, which reveals its majesty a little bit at a time.

Alhambra (#30) portrays visitors walking through a huge stone horseshoe arch, with a smaller arch ahead in the darkness. I haven’t been to the Alhambra but I imagine this is what sightseers would experience. Richman conveys a sense of wonder and mystery through the size of the arch and the darkness, hiding what is beyond.

Most of Richman’s watercolors are quiet and contemplative, even industrial scenes like We Do Buildings (#15) and Jamaican Rum (#32). His works have a timeless quality, perhaps due to the light and the stillness.

Architectural Water Colors by Harry Richman, AIA is on view through August 22 at Landmarks Association, located at 911 Washington Avenue, Suite 170. Gallery hours are Monday – Friday, 9:00am – 5:00pm. For more information, call 314-421-6474 or visit