Day three of this workshop dove into the non-objective areas of abstract art. To warm up we did some blind contours, something that teaches one to relax and match the movements of the hand to what the eyeball sees and follows. These exercises can be frustrating since many times, they don’t immediately produce something pretty but they are a great way to get into the swing of things and can produce some really beautiful marks. Using a few of these quick five minute gesture drawings, done one right on top of the other, we built a foundation for an abstract painting.
We looked at Fauvism and Cubism, art forms that use simplied forms and bright colors to describe human energy, the “experience of the person”. I chose to focus on fauvism when creating my piece:
I simplified many of the lines I put down and laid bright blocky colors overtop. Right from the start, my drawing had a tribal-feel to it, so I really went with that when making my color choices.
The weather for the week was mainly cloudy and mucky so we didn’t get to go outside for any plein-air painting. Instead (and to my delight, since I don’t really care for landscapes at this point) we began working on Chuck Close-style portraits. The story of Close’s art is one of my challenges and barriers. He began as a hyper realist painter suffering from Prosopagnosia or “face blindness” which makes it very difficult for the sufferer to distinguish and remember faces. Despite this, much of his work is portraiture. To further complicate his art he had a seizure and became paralysed from the waist down, though he regained some limited movement eventually. Rather than give up on art, he taped a brush to his wrist and kept going. Instead of continuing with hyper realism he migrated into a sort of pixel-ism, gridding his portraits out and painting square by square with swirls of color that would look like skin tone viewed a ways away. His work and life is absolutely mind-blowing. Any time I feel sorry for myself, I just need to go through his works again and remember how lucky I am to have working hands at this point in my life.
Though I began this painting on day 3, I started on a large 24″x24″ masonite board and haven’t finished it yet. Working on this painting has been extremely therapeutic and relaxing. If I don’t feel like starting another still life or doing anything that requires much thought, I can simply paint a few squares on the portrait and go away for awhile. This isn’t necessarily how Close does his paintings, I’m sure he puts tonnes more thought into them than me, but this is how it’s evolved for me and I like it so far. I’m hoping to move away from his style a bit and make it my own, but it will take time.