Sunday, August 22, 2021

Continuous Collage - Composition as Process

 Here is a piece that I am demonstrating at my Composition as Process mini-workshop. Continuous Collage is one approach I take to composing. In this ZOOM virtual workshop,  I will be talking through my process on several pieces, demonstrating my various approaches to composition. Hope you will join me at Winslow Art Center's virtual workshop space, Friday, August 27, 5:00 - 6:30 pm Eastern, 2:00 - 3:30 Pacific time. See details and sign up here.

One participant will win one of my paintings! Sign up includes you in the drawing.

What Happened Here? 9"x12", mixed media on paper

Friday, August 20, 2021

Giveaway at 'Composition as Process' workshop

 In my short and cheap ($40) online workshop next Friday I will be demonstrating this painting, narrating my compositional decisions as I go. One participant will win the painting in this giveaway!

The demo is part of Winslow Art Center's "Technique Takeaway" series. Join me on Friday, August 27, 5:00 - 6:30 pm Eastern, 2:00 - 3:30 Pacific for this workshop. You will get a link to the zoom video afterwards, so even if you can't make it to the real-time demo, you can see it at your convenience.

There will be time for questions and comments too!

Burning Bright, acrylic on paper, 18"x24"

Monday, August 16, 2021

More Thoughts on Composition

 I have been thinking a lot about composition lately because it is one topic that most of my students ask about. "When do you worry about composition?",  "Is it a composition?", "What about the Rule of Thirds?", "It is pleasing to the eye, but is it a good composition?"

The questions beg other questions. 

  • Why worry? I don't worry, I just compose. That is the process, and it involves trying things, changing them, painting over things, suggesting something to the painting and then seeing if the painting accepts it or not. Composing is constant hypothesizing and questioning. Trying things, editing, revising, building, deconstructing. This is composing.
  • How can marks on a page not be a composition? "These I just made, followed your instructions; this other one I tried to make a composition".  Comment from a student in a recent workshop, not uncommon. They are all compositions. You have composed all of them.
  •  What if you don't apply the Rule of Thirds, whatever that is? Anything that calls itself a rule is begging to be challenged. Try out the opposite, or something different from, the rule in question. SEE what happens, rather than just taking the rule as a Rule.
  •  Pleasing to whose eye? "Pleasing to the eye" is often used to mean "I like it". Own your personal taste. Don't project onto others. To me, "pleasing to the eye" suggests that the artist is trying to please an audience. It's great when people like your work, but what matters most is that your work  speaks to you. Then you know it is your work, and what you send out into the world is real.

Below are two pieces that I will be demonstrating in my Technique Takeaway, Composition as Process.

This 90-minute demonstration and discussion is online, via ZOOM, hosted by Winslow Art Center. 

Friday, August 27

5:00 - 6:30 Eastern Time, 2:00 - 3:30 Pacific Time

Sign up here.

I will walk you through my compositional process on the above two pieces and more. This is not an analysis of the finished pieces themselves, but a peek into my thoughts on composition as I am composing. The above two pieces are paintings. I will be including at least one collage piece as well, so you can learn how I think through that process as well. There will be intermittent Q&A during this demonstration. If you can't make it to the live ZOOM event, sign up anyway and you will get access to the video. Find out more here.

Friday, August 6, 2021

The Repeated Mark

 Those of you who have taken my workshops know that the lens through which I look at composition, composing, is contrast. Color, value, scale, quality of line or edge.... I look at contrasts, differences more than I look for repetition, "echoing", or sameness. But a crucial aspect of contrast is degree.

Contrast does not always mean 'high contrast' as in black and white or red and green (value, color). It doesn't have to mean tiny and huge, or soft and hard (edges, e.g.). I look at degrees of contrast - subtle contrasts and dramatic ones, and everything in between. How subtle can I make this contrast in value (for example) and have it read as different rather than the same. Or how little dramatic contrast can I inject to make a big difference in a piece? 

I have been looking at all-over patterns or designs that read as very compelling images, to me. Often, too much repetition creates a weak and blah piece. Nothing speaks out because everything is speaking at the same time. So what is it about these images that I find so powerful, even though they have this all-over repeating characteristic?

Here are a few images from a Pinterest board I call (tongue in cheek) "Wallpaper". Please see the board for attribution of these images and many more examples.

Check out Japingka Aboriginal Art Gallery for so so so many inspiring examples of contemporary Aboriginal art, much of which makes use of a repeated mark - dots, brushstrokes, stripes. Take a look at the gorgeous (to me) work of Carbiene McDonald at Outstation, which represents contemporary Indigenous art and works directly with Aboriginal owned art centers.

Here is one of Carbiene McDonald's pieces:


Look at Emily Kame Kngwarreye's work here. These are a couple of pieces of hers. Dots and stripes! What could be simpler? But what is it that makes them so compelling?

Aboriginal art is my new inspiration, but it makes me look at art that is based on a repeated mark in a new light. The repetition, done by hand, makes you see the subtle contrasts, the subtle shifts of color or scale or angle or nuance. This is some of what I've been exploring in my stripe pieces. Thanks for visiting!

Note: be aware of cultural appropriation. The repeated mark is used EVERYWHERE, and is not confined to the art of Indigenous Peoples. However, if you are inspired by the work of a culture, read this. In general, when inspired by a culture, a movement, or an individual artist, steal, don't copy. That is, do enough work to make it your own. Make lots and lots and lots of pieces until the work is your own. Be honest with yourself.