Abstraction Paintings—due November 7
Prepare six surfaces (Panel, MDF, paper?) the same size and tone the grounds. 12x12? 11x14? 14x17? 14x14?
Abstract painting practically always has a connection to something the artist experienced (visually, aurally, emotionally, etc.) in real life, though the connection may not be obvious to the viewer. Artists transform (and often elevate) their source material though a long process of collection, manipulation, drawing, redrawing, abstracting.
For this project, you will do at least 6 short paintings (more if time allows) exploring various starting points for abstraction, and various painting processes. Do not be concerned with the success of the paintings—you will learn from the process and experimentation. You may discover something with this project that could be applied to non-abstract work in the future, so your interest, or lack of interest in abstraction is not important. Some techniques to try: squeegee, stencil, sanding, masking, pouring, Xerox transfer.
“A painting is a laminated structure.” – Terry Winters
Another goal of this project is to push the idea of layering in painting—often, much of the richness of a painting’s surface comes from layering. Each class period and homework you will put another layer on each of your paintings; in the end most paintings will have 6 layers. I say “most” because it is likely that one or two paintings will get done early. All paintings should be layered and change during the process. Do not get an idea then paint it.
Prep Work to do in advance: a. Go out with a camera (cell phone is ok) and take photos that will read as primarily abstract, and which have strong formal qualities. b. cut out color schemes you like from a magazine. The color schemes must have at least three colors and should not be entirely analogous (adjacent colors on the color wheel like red, orange, yellow)—there must be some color contrast, or neutrals. Aim to get maybe 8-10 colors schemes.\ c. On an 18x24” piece of drawing paper, experiment freely with a wide variety of line types. Use ink applied with any tool you can think of (brush, brush dragged sideways, brush placed down and lifted up, pen, Q-tip, two Q-tips held slightly apart, rotini, rubber bands, finger tip, cardboard, stick...) to make the lines. Some marks should be full blackness, others may be dry brush technique, and/or ink diluted with water (try wet-in-wet technique). Fill the entire space with marks, letting black dominate some areas and white dominate others. Marks may go in any direction, be short or long, anything, just don’t draw pictures or symbols- make marks at random. Try for a variety of marks in your experimentation. Make a viewfinder with a hole 1-2” square or similarly sized rectangle (or both) the same proportions as your painting surface and use it to scan the above sheet of marks for strong compositions. Some of you may get better results with a larger viewfinder hole depending on the scale of your marks. Look for compositions which are balanced, have both unity and variety, have a focal point, and suggest multiple layers of space. Be sure to rotate your paper as you look for compositions. If you like gestural painting, look for ones with a sense of motion; if your taste is for calm, peaceful compositions, look for some of those. Cut out (using x-acto and either ruler or the edges of your viewfinder as a guide) all the good compositions you can find. d. Think about what you want to use as your starting point for painting 4, below. e. Devise a system of chance for painting 5 below so that you will be prepared to start the painting in class.
Starting Points For each painting I’ve provided a starting point or process. Once your painting is underway, feel free to diverge from these instructions and take your painting where it needs to go.
Painting 1—Abstract Painting from an Abstract Photograph: