Abstract teaching…

Here’s a response to the last blog post about the painting Finding Abstraction which  I got from Cori, the daughter of my friend Saren and someone who does that noblest of professions for a living…she teaches children about art !

(Cori is the hard working woman at the right, alongside her mom, on the day that the entire Zink family showed up to help us clean up after the flood.)


Love Finding Abstraction!  My 4th graders just read Jackson
in Action in their new reading series.  I just finished a lesson with them
using the children’s book Action Jackson and then let them do their own
Pollock (sometimes I’m down right nuts).  I did not manage the consistency very
well and most of the paintings look like a mess but they had a blast.  I think
they had almost as much fun crawling around with a sponge to clean the floor and
chairs as they did making the mess.  And somehow I managed to not lose one pair
of pants to paint splatters!!!  Their reading about Romare Bearden now – collage
is next.  I’m loving this new reading series.

C.  🙂

I just love Cori’s creative way of putting lessons into action. My brushes are raised to her !

PS – today she sent along a couple examples of the student’s artwork.

They both have nailed the strength of the linear gestures and the resonance of vivid color. Wicked cool as they say where I’m from. These guys are from the Paxtang Elementary School.

J Mattey's Pollock inspired painting

Artwork by J. Mattey

Jeffery Gleiter's Pollock inspired painting

And here’s one by Jeffery Gleiter

Finding Abstraction

The Current show at Gallery 1261 features this little play on the theme… Finding Abstraction

The set up for this was crazy. I wanted to use a real Jackson Pollock painting as reference and found one in my old college Art History text book which I scanned and printed out so I could enlarge it and make it look like a postcard with torn edges. Then Pat found me an old paint can from the stash in the garage and after I rigged them up I taped a canvas to an old fedex box and started to drip.

I remembered the scene in the movie Pollock where Ed Harris takes house paint and starts to drip it on the floor. Turns out there is a learning curve which involves refining the dilution of the paint and the movement of the brushwork. More of a slow dripline than a splatter. I was aiming for verisimilitude but my need for immediate gratification left me impatient with the process. Yes, I could fake it… but I eventually found the right consistency and made up four jars of color and then I dribbled one layer at a time with the panel flat on the floor and walked away while it dried (that was the hard part). Since I was using oil paint instead of acrylic, it had to dry completely between colors or else I ended up with an oily blooming mess.

Then there was the fun of trying to get the magnifying glass to stay on that teacup.

I was just about finished with the painting when, sitting at my easel, I felt everything start to shake. When you work with a Bernese Mt. Dog at your feet this occasionally happens so I yelled at Finn to stop. It kept on shaking so I turned around and yelled at her again…but she was asleep. Then my phone beeped and I read the breaking news that there was an earthquake in DC. Yep, that felt about right.

I looked around the studio and a couple of the paintings were hanging off kilter but the only real damage was to this still life… the postcard had fallen off of the brush that I had rigged to hold it up (I did fake that nail and tile background).

So there’s the rest of the story as they say… stop by if you’re in Denver and check it out.

Working on a theme…

Last year I started a series of …well series paintings.

I wanted to work on themes and explore them across several different compositions. There were more ideas than I had time to create and I’ve learned that there is a time, and a season as it were, for each painting. So, as the crisp fall air brings the colors alive, I have been studying apples… anew.

The October before last  I spent a day with our friend Ted in the Tiasquam orchards in West Tisbury…

There are dozens of good painting ideas from that modeling session and I decided to elaborate on the “theme” of apple picking.  Though I started the series last year with some sketches …

and then this painting from my studio yard…

Like I said earlier… last year life took some wicked wild turns … but life ebbs and marches on…and I’m now reaching back and pulling on the thread that started the theme.

I don’t usually put photos of unvarnished paintings up on the web but the new iphone has a good enough camera to  give you a decent representation of what is fresh off the easel.

This painting was inspired by a quote from  NC Wyeth, “I have all this and more, yet how I would like to relax; to be content with a wheelbarrow, a rake, an apple basket, a pipe.” He wrote that in a letter dated September 19, 1910. A hundred years later and that sentiment still resonates.

And what to do with all those apples ?

Well that’s the next painting in the series… Skillet Apple Pie.

You won’t be able to get much out of this shot of the still life set up…because I decided to change it up a bit after moving to the easel…but here’s a peak into the early stages of the creative process…

I’ve gotten this far…

And yes, it’s all about the butter !

Stay tuned…