Abstract Painting Class Two

In October/November 2021 I attended an abstract painting studio class at Woodmere Museum in Philadelphia, PA. Our group met in the museum’s teaching studio and spent 3 hours each Tuesday morning just painting with critiques from our instructor, Val Rossman. Thanks to her and my fellow students for a nice experience.

In the second session, I ran up against a problem. Since I’d finished the still life painting last week I needed a new inspiration for this week – the assignment for the class being to continue to work on the still life.

I was at a loss as to what I wanted to work on. I don’t generally paint in a totally non-representational manner, but, this class was of course focused on exactly that. I reminded myself that my goal in choosing this class was to enjoy the company of other artists, attend a class in person, and work on the art that I was able to do with my eyesight in the impaired state it was in at that time.

I would do my best and focus on enjoying the painting process and being in class, I decided.

To prompt myself, I took along this photo. I liked the shapes of the buildings and how they fit together.

I got to work. And I ended up with this pleasant but pedestrian urban scene.

Let me say, I felt just BLA about this painting. In fact, I felt as if I did this following instructions from some source other than inside my head. I let the stated parameters of the class inhibit me and I ended up with something kind of realistic and ugly.

A couple of days later, at home, I worked the painting over. It’s better now. I do find that when I am painting in a class studio session it takes me time to assimilate what the class is supposed to be about and then to figure out what I will make of it. I guess I just had to get this adjustment phase over with and this painting is how I did it.

“Street Corner”, 18″ x 24″ in acrylics on paper (in my extra-large sketchbook).

10 thoughts on “Abstract Painting Class Two

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I think much of the reason I didn’t like the first one as much is that as I mentioned, I felt like I was constrained and trying to meet an assignment. I also felt like I relied too much on images I have done in the past that were similar and didn’t push myself. Now that I look at it again, I’m not so unhappy with it. It’s funny how your feelings as you are making a painting can influence your views of it, I learned once again!

  1. Laura (PA Pict)

    It’s funny how our emotional states and experiences colour our judgment about our art. It is just not possible to maintain that objective distance. The second version is definitely more you as the colours pop against each other more and your line work is bolder.

  2. marissthequilter

    Why, I asked myself, do I find the second version much more exciting? It is partly the brighter colours, but mainly the added figures and cars that give it movement and life IMHO

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I agree with you. The buildings alone sort of look like a dystopian city to me, or abandoned (in a non-romantic ruins kind of way, more like people fled after bad things happened here). I think people and cars and plants and so on are needed in this kind of painting just as you say, give it life!

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