course work 4

Mark Rothko was this week’s assignment. Born in 1905 in what is now Latvia, he moved to the US and lived in SW Portland, OR until he went to college.

In 2012, one of his works was vandalized at the Tate in the UK. The story of restoring the canvas is amazing. The link takes you to a short documentary about the science and skill of the people who restored the work.

Here is one tiny corner of a Rothko painting with the beautiful overlapping layers of color:


And here is my homework. I found choosing a color scheme and creating the layers very challenging!



The color changes are just due to different lighting. But I did change nose and mouth. Sort of changed the spirit of the original (right) which was to use thick paint and big brush strokes. Not small finicky ones. For the original I used mostly a big 1 inch plus brush. If the photos look distorted, click on them for a better image.

course work 3

Jackson Pollock

Is the next artist in my online course. I used a 2×3 foot piece of cardboard and my teacher suggested I paint it white to start. Then he showed me the collection of acrylic house paints he had and handed me paint stir sticks. Other people in the studio came to watch, so I gave them colors to drip. Suggestions came in: it needs a dark red. It needs black. It needs white. It was tremendous fun.


a shout out

To the Croquis Cafe, on youtube, vimeo, etc. They have artist resource models. The series I’ve been using for figure drawing has one-minute, two-minute and five-minute poses, with a count down clock. (or you can pause them, like I do.)

In this exercise, the idea is to get the gesture and arm & leg positions in the first five seconds. Go!


course work 2

Next artist: Willem de Kooning.

Willem de Kooning once stated, “Even abstract shapes must have a likeness.”

I’m stepping into really different concepts and just wandering around. One session does not mean I know anything! I will probably revisit this one and make changes. 32×32 inches, oil.



course work 1

I am taking another online course from Coursera. Auditing, so it’s free. But I didn’t notice that it had an optional practicum: learn about eight post-war American abstract artists and then create a painting in that style. Cool! This course, Postwar Abstract Painting and my first, Modern Art & Ideas, both come from the Museum of Modern Art.

First artist: Barnett Newman. He reduced his paintings to fundamental elements: color and line. He called his vertical lines “zips”.

This one is mine: 20×20 inches. Acrylic on canvas.


still don’t know what I’m doing

I had an idea that this one (below) was not really a painting, but really a drawing in disguise. I had/have a notion (that may be too either/or) that drawing and painting should really be quite different.

Also, my teacher points out the things I’m doing that I didn’t know I was doing. So few of my decisions seem intentional. But I take in the ideas and suggestions, so maybe I’m understanding more than I think? Hard to explain.


back and forth

Back into color theory this weekend. Color (use of) comes somewhat naturally to me, but I can’t articulate the theory behind it. So – working on that.

Here is my super-duper interactive color wheel I just made:


And in the school today – this one. Not finished. Will go back for more details, corrections!