from crayon box to powering my soul… color defines me

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More In The Studio

My latest studio exercise from the class I’m taking through  http://www.coursera.org is to learn and paint in the style of Jackson Pollock, humorously nicknamed “Jack the Dripper”. His No. 1A created from oil and enamel on canvas in 1948 is shown (at left below). My exploration resulted with this interpretation of his process (at right below):

Jackson Pollock No. 1A, 1948, oil and enamel on canvas

Jackson Pollock Exercise by Carla Bange, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pollock started out inspired by American Indian sand paintings, which can be seen in his impressive The She-Wolf (see it here: https://www.moma.org/collection/works/78719 ). Once he relocated to New York, he focused on his “poured paintings” which are much more recognizable as his work. I learned that he used enamels, like house paint, which probably helped his action paintings which he created by moving around all sides of a huge canvas spread across his barn floor. My efforts, using thinned down acrylic paints, resulted more in drips and drops than flowing strings of paint. I really enjoy watching Ed Harris, the actor. So when he did such an amazing job portraying the artist in Pollock, the movie released in 2000, I was already familiar with the sweeping gestural movements of Pollock’s brushes. I was, however, unaware that he embedded trinkets in his work, such as nails, coins, buttons, and even cigarette buttes in his work Full Fathom Five (see it here: https://www.moma.org/collection/works/79070).

Next up was Mark Rothko. Art History 101 and 102 courses were my favorite classes in college. We were required to attend an art show, a play, a musical, and to write critiques. I’m not sure any of us truly knew what we were doing critiquing famous works but I imagine reading our papers was very enlightening, as well as entertaining, to the instructors. Standing in the Sheldon Art Museum on the University of Nebraska – Lincoln campus looking at a Mark Rothko original for the first time stayed with me over 40 years later! At the time, I felt the need to equate the work to something familiar and recognizable. Was it a landscape or a sunset, a field or the sea? Now I understand that abstract art is less about a relating it to something concrete and known and more about relating it to an emotion and feeling.

I used similar colors in the studio exercise I made with acrylic paints on a 24 x 36 inch canvas. When I stood back I realized that I had neglected to try to round the corners of my shaded rectangles which float on a red background. Rothko didn’t let others watch him work, so it is uncertain how many coats of paint he applied or what techniques he used for his smudged edges.

I did try my hand at using oil paints in the Rothko style, but on a much smaller scale. I found the streaking nature of thinned oil paint to be disappointing to work with. The upside is that I can say I tried it!

Look for more from the class as I continue to explore in upcoming blogs…


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In the Studio with a MOMA MOOC

The second course I signed up for on Coursera.org is much more experiential than the Learning How to Learn (LHTL) course I wrote about 2 posts ago. I took a leap and signed up for “In the Studio: Postwar Abstract Painting”. We’re exploring the Abstract Expressionists of the New York School. I knew 2 of the artists by name, the rest are new to me, which is exciting. I still think about my favorite undergrad classes: Art History 101 and 102, which pushed us to experience an onstage presentation, a play, a musical, an operetta, an art show, sculpture, and architecture.

Forty years later, I am studying art again. Through my latest class at http://www.coursera.org we have learned a bit about Barnett Newman, who’s pieces were huge, often 18 feet in length (at left below). My exploration resulted with this interpretation of his process I call “Grounded” (at right below):

Newman made what he called “zips” and I practiced a couple of different types of zips on my much smaller version (11 x 14″). The course instructor is Corey D’Augustine, artist and curator at MOMA. I naively presumed this studio exercise would be simple; Corey made it look easy, however I was surprised at how difficult it is to try to ensure your lines are straight. I used all acrylics: Raw sienna covers the entire canvas, then I taped the left zip and covered everything with yellow ochre. Next I taped the 2 right zips. I mixed Payne’s gray with Titanium white & gloss medium for the thicker of the two stripes and use straight-from-the-tube Payne’s gray for the thinnest stripe or zip. Finally, I used Naples yellow with palette knife for far right imperfect edged and textured zip.

Next up was Willem de Kooning. I think his work is interesting because it changed so much over the years; there is not one phase of his work that I can readily conclude is de Kooning’s style.

I used the same color palette as Corey did in the studio exercise video. I couldn’t find Titanium Buff so I tried to create my own flesh tone; it is a bit darker and pinker than I expected. This is my first experience using oils and I liked mixing in linseed oil, varnish, and mineral spirits, even water. My favorite parts of the de Kooning process were the charcoal pencil and the removing processes, like scraping, scratching, and rubbing off with turpentine on a rag… love that look! On the downside, I hated the clean up process of oils. I’m a messy artist and my hands were covered in oil paint. I just threw away my yogurt cup “bowls” and inexpensive brushes. I think I’ll stick with acrylics for future studio exercises. I like the final result, but am clueless as to whether it’s “finished”! I named it “Macaw” for the colors and textures.

Look for more from the class as I continue to explore in upcoming blogs…