A painted city is worth a hundred thousand bricks

When talented stars collide, masterpieces arise. I hate to be so cliche, but it is what it is. This artwork is the result of a collaborative effort between Grant Davis, Eli Willsea, and Micah Biedeman. It was the product of hanging out in Grant’s home last year, 3 weeks worth of cumulative effort, and somewhere between 50,000 to 100,000 LEGO bricks (who’s got time to count when you’re oozing with inspiration and art?). Both Grant and Eli should need no introduction, as neither are new to the world of making large scale builds and focusing on a single aspect of wonder. In 2018, they walked away with The Brothers Brick Creation of the Year award, and now they’re back with another stunning creation.

The Painted City

The artwork

The build is a surreal photographic scene of a painter sitting on a girder with his tools, all while overlooking a distant, towering city built on a seemingly impossible pyramid-shaped structure. In the foreground, the image is flanked by two buildings on each side so that they feel close to the observer. The angling of these structured coupled with the microscale model in the distance are positioned utilize forced perspective, evoking a sense of distance between the artist and his canvas.

The multitude of tiny abodes in the distance is a generous feast for the eyes, with the photograph’s composition forcing our eyes to wander and catch sight of the various techniques used for the walls and roofs of each and every individual living quarter. For example, the tail element is used to create roofing inspired by classical Chinese architecture.

A look behind the scenes

We also get a rare insight into the making of the towering build with a behind the scenes video. It’s very hard to recognise and appreciate the amount of time and hard work that goes into a spectacular-looking build, and this gives you a tiny peek into that process.

The team also shared some of the raw pre-processed composites of the individual structures. An image of the background model shows it in its entirety, showcasing how it really is able to hold its weight on its own (not that we ever doubted it for a second).

Painted City 1

Looking at the structure on the right by itself reveals details not seen in the final composite, including a better view of the lower level and living quarters.

Painted City 1

A partial tram can be seen peeking out from the right side, though it’s in fact a fully built model we would highlight on its own any other day. That speaks volumes to the level of detail that went into every part of this brick-built canvas.

Painted City 4

When it comes to complex LEGO scenes, you sometimes don’t get to appreciate the details that aren’t visible. Yet these details are essential to extending the realism of what is within your peripheral view. When a portion of the building is left exposed in the foreground, your senses tell you that the image has depth; this puts you right in the middle of a grounded place in time and space.

Painted City 5

It is possible to run out of parts to build with a huge attempt like this, but I’m glad to see various printed elements like the 2×2 LEGO Logo thrown in there along with the symbols of Classic Space.

Painted City 7

The effort was a division of labour, with Grant focusing on the city in the background, Eli building the structures on the right side, and Micah and Eli working on the ones to the left. According to the team, Micah also provided invaluable inputs throughout the project.

The Inspiration

Art inspires art in different forms, and this piece of LEGO artwork was brought to life and inspired by digital artwork shared by reddit user nawab34, crediting 流浪汉LZY, in 2015. (Update: we’ve found a better source to credit the author of the below digital art work: Zhiyong Li)

I can’t imagine how the three gentlemen stumbled across this and pondered and deliberated (if they even did) on how to bring a 2D piece of artwork into a three-dimensional world. Nor can I fathom the gargantuan levels of ambition needed to fuel their souls and bring it to life. This is the true essence of how LEGO brings people together while representing the embodiment of passion and perseverance.