In January/February 2021 I took an online painting class at Woodmere Art Museum in Philadelphia, PA. The class was called BLENDING ABSTRACTION AND REPRESENTATION, and over six sessions our class explored the continuum between these two endpoints of a line.
The class was structured so that we worked on our individual artworks in our home studios while participating in discussions and vewing demonstrations by the teacher. I did quite a bit of work and I’ll be showing them to you over a few posts.
Thanks to my instructor, Lesa Chittenden Lim, and my classmates, for a good experience.
Here’s a painting I did. It’s called “Complementary Granny Style”, and it is 20″ x 16″, done in acrylics on canvas.
Our class was given the assignment of doing a work using two complementary colors (green/red, blue/orange/, or yellow/purple) plus black and white.
I struggled with this assignment. I use color by eye and the idea of following a rule or a plan is foreign to the way I think about painting. It would never occur to me to classify colors or to arrange them in a system; to me, colors just ARE.
I tried a few things and got very tangled up. Finally Idecided to divide the canvas into three sections and designate a color pair for each section. That way, I could be a little more free in how I went about the process of painting.
I used the photo below for a reference to keep me on track. I feel the exercise was useful in what it taught me I do not want to do – paint while thinking of theories or frameworks – and what I do like – the interactions of color, and the trust I have in my eye that I will find the way to use the colors and make the painting shine.
I don’t like this painting much, and maybe some day I will return to it and paint out the parts I don’t like and substitute something else.
Or maybe not. I’ll just go on and make another new painting instead.
I absolutely love it!
Thank you. I am liking it better now, I think I resented having an assignment I didn’t want to do!
I love it!
Thank you. I think it is not as disturbing to me as it was in making it – I see some things I like about it more, now — I think I might have had a little bad attitude here about the assignment??!!
I agree with your assessment. It is not you. Your natural way of painting makes the colors sing. Whereas this seems flat. Well there is that old saying, knowing what you don’t like or want is just as important as knowing what you do like or want.
Thank you. I felt like I was being asked to write a poem with a set vocabulary (aka Dr. Seuss, not so inspired!) It seems more like one of my tile faces, which I don’t consider a full expression but more like designs or patterns. This one didn’t get past the requirement-satisfying phase for me.
This is a good solution. After watching a video from a teacher my sister-in-law recommended, I realize that I, too, don’t want to be thinking too much about following rules when I work. I don’t want to be “thinking” at all, let alone trying to include all 6 elements he recommended. Your intuitive grasp of color is one of your greatest strengths. (K)
Thank you. I totally agree with you, when you said that you don’t want to be thinking at all when you do art…just do it. My teacher has a cerebral approach to art and it is effective with most of the students, I can see it in their work, but for me…I just want to do what I do. I remind myself, I mostly took the class to be with art-making people and having a reason and focus to do some art again, which I was struggling with. In that respect the classes have been a success. I think I have been a diffident student, though there have been some ideas advanced in the class that have been intriguing. Still, I think I do best when I just rely on my eye and instinct.
I think it’s a stunning painting.
Thank you. I know I can’t see it objectively; in making it I felt kind of tied up and I wonder if I will be able to look at it without that feeling. Very possibly, if I put it away for some time and come back later, it might happen…
Hope so! 🐈
I think it has awesome potential! I think you can do a little tweaking and make it one of your wonderful pieces!
Thank you. I think it is one that might benefit from going into the basement and waiting there for a while (sounds like I am punishing it!) for me to settle down with it some.
Maybe I shouldn’t have read the post before looking, but the painting seems to match your feelings about the assignment–hemmed in, fussed, sardonic eyes wanting to leave it all behind… Not as free and direct as your usual work, but I’m digging the tension and interest, too. A non-fictive dream?
I think that assignment could have been an interesting challenge but I agree completely that it does not cohere with your methodology of creation. You work so intuitively that created a set of boundaries is bound to be too inhibiting. I actually think the painting is successful but I know very well from experience that the journey you go on in creating something can impact your relationship with the eventual outcome. You have lots of interesting colours and shapes in this piece so I think it could eventually become a very intriguing base layer were you to return to it at some juncture.
Thank you. As I look at the picture now I am inclined to let it be and move on to new and better experiences. You are so right, the circumstances of an artwork’s creation get embedded into the artwork, at least for me, in the mental framework it is forever after placed in. This one, I felt pretty mechanical about it, trying to get the assignment done. Our instructor seems to present art in a very cerebral way to our class and that has opened my eyes to some ideas, but overall, I guess…I really don’t want to be any different than I am!
It is no bad thing to confirm that you are content with your own methodology. It may also help you narrow your focus on the types of art course that might be inspiring to you and those to avoid. I am like you in that I prefer to just move on from an unsatisfying piece once it is completed. I will keep tinkering with it while I am activity concerned with that piece but I never return to them, even if I mentally tell myself I might.
Yes, I am best with little instruction -I mostly wanted the class for socializing a bit and forcing me to return a focus to artwork. Both of which were accomplished, so I don’t mind the occasional detours the class took me on. My approach to an unsatisfactory painting has always been to paint it out and reuse the canvas, but now – I use such cheap canvases, I just throw them in to the charity shop pile and let them go.
I really like this but I agree: do what you like to do. Don’t paint over it though. I’ll buy it first. N.
You are so kind about this painting, I think I will leave it alone, and let it have its life as it is, and use my energy to make something else new. If you want it, it is yours, no need to buy it, just say the word! Or any other one you see. If I don’t want to get rid of it, all I will do is say no, so don’t hold back if you do want something. I did learn something from doing this exercise and that is I don’t like to think about rules. But I guess I already knew that, I am just being reminded!
Thanks so much Claudia, that’s so generous. I just packed your landscape painting and I’m hoping there will be room with the plants to move it in the zipcar my daughter rented this weekend. I don’t have a lot of wall space for art–the rooms are all doors and windows. I’ll have to see. Perhaps something small. You know the same thing applies to anything of mine you want. The problem is, so much of it is in storage right now, so I might have a hard time finding it. I’m hoping to get it all organized this year though.
Well, just say the word. And I hope this move will go smoothly.
Thanks Claudia. Somehow it all works out in the end.
I love it! It’s so weird to me how some paintings I hate, others love, and the ones I love, others don’t, it will never make sense to me!😉
Thank you. I feel the same way. Some paintings I have made that people have thought very good, left me indifferent – others that I love myself, no one else does. There is certainly that element of the personal feelings that go into the creation process affecting the opinions of our own work, I think.