Tag Archives: abstract art

Abstract Painting Class at Woodmere Museum, Spring 2022 – Part Five

In May/June 2022 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. You may remember I took an earlier session of this class with her at the same location in fall, 2021.

This time was just as much fun. Thanks to her and my fellow students for a nice experience.

This week was the last full painting session we did in the class. For the sixth and last class, we did a little bit of work but spent most of the time in Critique Day – we brought in our painting(s) and chose one for the class to talk about. It’s a nice experience when it is done as we did in our class – we learn and we get to talk about our work and what it means and what and how we worked to accomplish our aims.

But I digress. In this the fifth class, I did two works. One was a reworking of a painting I did in the landscape class I had taken the previous summer. I just do not like doing landscapes and this painting always felt very forced to me:

So in this class I turned it into this:

It’s called “Fugitive” and is 18″ x 24″. I still don’t much like it but I am not going to do anything else to it.

I also did this painting:

It’s called “Interrupted Journey” and is 24″ x 18″. I keep wanting to add to it and then not doing it. I think that means it is finished, even if I feel an unfinished something about it. So that is why I named it as I did. Maybe this painting’s journey was meant to end before I thought.

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Well, that’s it for this session of abstract painting. I’ll be taking studio sessions again this fall of 2022 – let’s see what I come up with! I’ll show you when it happens.

Abstract Painting Class at Woodmere Museum, Spring 2022 – Part Four

In May/June 2022 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. You may remember I took an earlier session of this class with her at the same location in fall, 2021.

This time was just as much fun. Thanks to her and my fellow students for a nice experience.

For this week our instructor discussed three different kinds of light: bright hot sunlight, winter light, and the light at sunset. Our challenge was to make an image somehow involving light as defined in these ways.

I was at a loss, and then I got the idea to try a painting with all three kinds of light. Here it is.

It’s called “Three Kinds of Light” and is 24″ x 18″ At the bottom is winter light, then above it sunset light, and then above that bright hot sunlight.

Abstract Painting Class at Woodmere Museum, Spring 2022 – Part Three

In May/June 2022 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. You may remember I took an earlier session of this class with her at the same location in fall, 2021.

This time was just as much fun. Thanks to her and my fellow students for a nice experience.

Continuing with the assignment given in the first class (to look around the studio at the random splashes of color left behind on surfaces by the many students who have passed through the studio, and to take them as inspiration for some work), I started this large painting with blocks of color.

As a bit of history, I had ordered a couple of 40″ x 30″ canvases some time back, and I don’t know why, as I usually don’t paint that large. Anyway, they sat in storage until I happened to remember them, and I thought – why not try something on one of them?

I hauled it over to the class and got busy. By the time I left class, I had covered the canvas with a totally abstract composition of colors. I stood back to admire it and then I got back to work, because I knew that in its second life it would find its voice and meaning. I worked on it for the next week and here is where it ended up.

It’s called “In the Current State of Things” and is 40″ x 30″ on canvas.

Abstract Painting Class at Woodmere Museum, Spring 2022 – Part Two

In May/June 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. You may remember I took an earlier session of this class with her at the same location in fall, 2021. This time was just as much fun. Thanks to her and my fellow students for a nice experience.

Continuing with the assignment given in the first class (to look around the studio at the random splashes of color left behind on surfaces by the many students who have passed through the studio, and to take them as inspiration for some work), I created these two paintings.

I show them to you together as I made them at the same time, moving from one to the other. As before, I did a lot of work in the class and then finished at home, but…to be honest, these were both pretty much finished when I left class.

This one is called “In the Midday Heat” and it is 24″ x 18″.

This one is called “Dancing in My Living Room” and is 24″ x 18″.

Abstract Painting Class at Woodmere Museum, Spring 2022 – Part One

In May/June 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. You may remember I took an earlier session of this class with her at the same location in fall, 2021. This time was just as much fun. Thanks to her and my fellow students for a nice experience.

Let’s take a look at the work I did in this class. The structure was tailored to the individual students’ needs. We worked on our own projects or on the assigned topic as we wished and Val came around as we worked to critique and guide us. We also had a nice relaxed atmosphere in the studio and enjoyed being together, working silently along to music or at time chatting a bit. But the art always came first.

In the first session, we were given the assignment to look around the studio at the random splashes of color left behind on surfaces by the many students who have passed through the studio, and to take them as inspiration for some work.

My work tends to have some sort of representational elements in it, but in this class I always started with pure abstract shapes and colors and then let them tell me where to go next. Usually I made good progress on a painting in the studio and finished it at home later on.

Here is the first painting I made. It’s called “I Wrote My First Book in the Library” and it is 24″ x 18″ on masonite.

Paste Papers and Paste Painting

You may remember I’ve taken a couple of Zoom classes at the Kalamazoo (MI) Book Arts Center with Lorrie Grainger Abdo. She’s a great teacher, informative and fun to learn from. I also like the subject matter she presents – topics that stem from her work in book arts but are applicable to any artist’s work. (Look here for posts I’ve written on mark-making and circles/squares.

So when I saw that the Smithsonian was offering a Zoom class on paste papers and paste painting, taught by Lorrie, I was ready to sign up for two reasons. One, the teacher! and Two – I’ve wanted to try this technique ever since some students I taught in college classes showed me paste papers they had made. They were beautiful and quite different from the collage papers I make by simply painting with acrylic paints. I’d never had the chance to try the technique and now, here it was right in front of me.

All right. What is paste painting? Basically, it’s a surface decoration process that involves using a mix of paste and paint, applied to paper. It’s very amenable to layering and to texturing. I won’t go into much more detail since information is readily available on the internet. Let me tell you how we did things in the class.

The paste used is this product, Elmer’s Art Paste. It’s readily available and very inexpensive. This whole box can go through quite a few painting sessions, and once water is added, it lasts a very long time, so you don’t have to use it all up right away.

We needed to prepare the paste a day before the class, and it must be made with refrigerated cold water (to avoid lumps), which should chill overnight at least. For the class on Thursday, I started cooling the water on Tuesday and made the paste on Wednesday.

Here are Lorrie’s full directions on how to prepare the paste. I appreciated her thorough explanation.

I made half a box of paste and it just fit into a large plastic multi-serving container. I thought the paste would be white, but it’s actually clear. In fact I thought my paste had not gelled until I stuck my finger into it, between that and it not being opaque white, I had a bit of a fright, thinking I’d have to start over.

All right. Next, I gathered my materials and set up my work space. Lorrie had sent us a photo of how the materials might be arranged, along with written notes as to what was needed. Here is my set-up with her photo in the middle of the picture.

You see that I have craft acrylic paints for this session. Craft paints work perfectly well, but they have less pigment than better paints, so that you would use more paint. However, since I didn’t know if I’d ever do this process again, I just grabbed my existing assortment of $1.19 paint bottles and it worked out fine. For future reference, Lorrie used a student grade acrylic and I would think that if I kept up with paste painting I would do so as well.

You also see

  • plastic tubs to mix the paint and paste;
  • a variety of texturing tools;
  • foam brushes to spread the paste paint on the papers;
  • sketch papers, which is what I used in this session;
  • rags and water (the brushes and so on will get glued up if they don’t stand in water when not in use).
  • And of course the paste, in the yogurt container to the back right.

OK. After Lorrie explained the process to us, we got to work (our class was a group of about 10, and we were from all over the US). Basically, you glop paste into your container, then add paint until you like the opacity (this is where the use of better paints comes into play). If you want to mix a custom color, you just get the paints you want, mix the color, and add it to the paste.

Or, if you are me, you use up some of your color, red, let’s say, and then you add more paste and some blue paint and you get purple. Use that up, add more paste, add white, now you have lavender…

Once you have your colors, you spread paste paint on the paper with your foam brush (for overall coverage) or maybe with a palette knife or other tool (for mark making, usually in later layers, but…no rules! ).

The paste paint dries pretty quickly, so you can layer another color on not too much later. You can also paint in stripes, or blobs of color randomly scattered, or…really, do whatever you like.

All along the way, you can use your tools for texture. I was astounded by the transparency of layering possible, and the dimensionality this paste paint gives. You can scrape into the paint or you can add on to the top layer with stamps or a paintbrush, etc.

Let me just show you want I mean rather than using words.

The class focused on painting for the purpose of making collage papers or paper to be used in bookmaking. I also experimented with painting a “scene”:

I love the transparency and the layering. I’d like to try more things like this image. There is an ethereal quality to this image that I really enjoy. What did I use to make this image?

  • /Foam brush, both for spreading paint and for daubing straight lines with the end of the brush
  • plastic spackle tool
  • pencil eraser (at the end of a pencil)
  • plastic soap holder, flexible and grooved
  • plastic grout spreader
  • rubber-tipped tools intended for making marks into clay (I have a variety with different tips that make different marks)

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Well, that’s pretty much it. I’m thrilled to have learned this process, and I can see I will be experimenting with it and finding uses for it as time goes on.

Thank you to Lorrie Grainger Abdo and my classmates for a very informative and fun session!

Mark-making and where it led

Back in February, I took a Zoom workshop on mark-making. One topic that came up was neurographic art.

Our instructor, Lorrie Grainger Abdo, explained it as an art therapy that follows a specific set of instructions that the individual can use to reduce stress, work out problems, etc. In our session, she focused on explaining the actual mark-making that is used to accomplish it in showing us the technique.

Basically, you make a scribbly or swirling line on your paper, with crossings and intersections. Your paper can be plain or have colors or designs already on it.

Where those crossings occur, you fill them in to round them off. You extend any dangling lines to the edge of the paper. Then you do whatever you want with the result – fill in with color, with marks, add or subtract items, whatever you like.

This technique intrigued me as another example of providing artistic freedom within boundaries to guide me. Often, I want to paint, to let out feelings, but I need a place to start. For me, this idea really was exciting. I tried it out right away.

I had a masonite board 14″ x 11″ that I had painted with some colors. I drew in my lines and went from there. Here is the result.

I called it “Woman” because that was what first ocurred to me when I stopped working and looked at it as a whole.

I really enjoyed this process of working and it’s perfect for opening a door to an abstract painting, I think. I will be doing it again.

Leftover from class: Not Angry

Remember my class from this winter/spring? I had a couple more paintings in progress as the class finished, both one hundred percent to the abstract side of the scale. As a reminder, the class was about exploring the continuum of doing art from abstract to realistic (or vice versa) – the idea being that every work exists somewhere on this spectrum.

This one is called “Not Angry” and it’s 18″ x 24″ on masonite, done in acrylics.

The Boy on the Bridge

I created an illustration used to accompany a story on Fictive Dream, the online fiction magazine. And oops…I neglected to post it on the same day the story came out, as I usually do. My apologies to Fictive Dream and editor Laura Black.

But…that doesn’t mean I can’t catch things up. It’s not too late. I’ll show you the illustration and then I hope you’ll visit Fictive Dream and read the story it goes with.

The story is: The Boy on the Bridge, by Kate Mahony

And here is the picture: