Jim Blanchard is a contemporary topographical artist known for his architectural watercolors of historic Louisiana buildings. A native son of Lafourche Parish in South Louisiana, he was raised amid the aging plantations and vernacular 19th century architecture of the region. Born in Thibodaux in 1955, Blanchard briefly studied at Nicholls State University before joining the family’s oil brokerage business. It was there that Blanchard learned to research archives and public records, and honed his draughting skills through making maps. Moving to New Orleans in the early 1980s, Blanchard – like many artists before – fell in love with the city and its cultural and architectural history.
In New Orleans, Blanchard turned his full attention to creating artworks based on the region’s architectural history. Using watercolor and gouache as his primary medium, he depicted the grand buildings of the past with the precision of an architect, the integrity of an historian and the hand of a master watercolorist. Over the next thirty years, Blanchard created a stunning body of work that stands as testament to both his skill and artistry, and to the rich history of Louisiana’s built environment.
Eschewing the romanticism of decay so often embraced by contemporary artists, Blanchard depicts these buildings in their original glory, often adding figures in period costume for both scale and context. Calling them “architectural archival watercolors” for their precise scale and historical accuracy, Blanchard’s works exist as both architectural renderings and topographical history paintings. In the tradition of the great 19th century architect and painter, Marie Adrien Persac, the paintings of Jim Blanchard combine history, aesthetic and skill to create a visual document that is both accurate and idealized. Through these works, grand homes rise from the ashes of the past, crumbling facades are restored and faded images glow with the color of life.
A Precise Vision brings together works from throughout Blanchard’s career for the largest exhibition of his work to date. Drawing from both private and public collections, this exhibition tells the story of one man’s mastery of his chosen medium, of his obsession with the built environment of his home and of his transcendent combination of history and art.