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Taste the rainbow…eat the crayons

June 8, 2009

Last Monday found me feeling like I’d been given a free ticket back to kindergarten. The huge rainbow box of Crayola wax crayons atop the tutor’s desk may have had something to do with it. Ah nostalgia!

It was the start of a weekly general painting and drawing course at a local college. My initial apprehension vanished like a fart in the wind once I realised that all I really needed was my rampant enthusiasm.

We were encouraged to freely splash paint about whilst focusing on the abstract painting style of Gerhard Richter. This was to help us hone our observational skills and develop techniques using pencils, watercolour and acrylic paints – as well as those wonderful smelling, perfect sticks of wax colour.

My mind is open about abstract art – not wishing to dismiss it or agree with Al Capp who famously said that:

“abstract art is a product of the untalented, sold by the unprincipled to the utterly bewildered.”

After closely examining his pictures and coaxing my brushes to replicate some of his prints I became rather fond of them and realised that they’re much trickier to paint than one would initially imagine. Not sure I understood them, nor that I’d want to adopt one.

Richter is paid millions for his paintings.

So it’s a bit ridiculous putting my playful splodges up beside a work by a renowned (and probably the wealthiest) artist. My husband and son must’ve thought I was wasting my time when they saw my rendition of his “Dienstag, 22.1.1984”.

And yet…I took away the feeling that I’d really learned something – about how to achieve depth and richness of colour by drying the paint between layers and keeping the colours clean.

What’s that? You were expecting a masterpiece from me so soon? Small steps maybe…but in the right direction.

  1. studiomysteries permalink
    June 8, 2009 5:29 pm

    Bwahahaha! I’m glad that you learned a bunch from Richter, but I have to ask the world: Is the man not grossly overpaid? Will confess to a bias here, he is one of the artists I actively dislike 😀

    In general, I get really bored by abstract art, with the exception of Rothko who rocks my socks when he is not depressing the bejesus out of them. (I have to look at Rothko very selectively). I like nothing more than a good story, and abstraction tosses so many narrative tools out the window…

    Still, it’s such a good way to start off a class – by doing something loose and fun and happy-looking! Much less intimidating than trying to keep up with Rembrandt or somebody like that.

    Rock AWN.

  2. June 8, 2009 8:48 pm

    I’m both ignorant and ambivalent about abstract art – Richter’s is too busy for me, but if people are prepared to overpay him, then what does that say about the buyers of his stuff?

    I’m sure I could live with a Rothko on my wall. Actually we created Rothko-esque type pictures today…and I like to think that my painting of nothing was quite well painted – so to speak. 😉

  3. satyask permalink
    June 13, 2009 12:36 am

    I liked the name “ImkSplodge”. (Saw it on a mindfever comment)

    Your post makes we want to pick up a box of crayons or whatever and DRAW something or the other and the colour it! So sooner or later., I am going to do just that.


  4. June 13, 2009 12:37 pm

    Thank you – good to know my enthusiasm affected someone. Attending classes does the same for me.

  5. June 17, 2009 7:03 am

    Isn’t it great to get started? I like the reflective side to the start of your journey. On reflection – this is perhaps what we need to drive us from the bliss of unconscious ignorance to the frustration that comes from being aware of what we can’t do. What I like about blogs is that we can find fellow travelers along the way, if not to share the load, at least to enjoy a cup of tea and a laugh.

    • June 17, 2009 10:23 am

      Hi Stephen. Or less reflection (read nattering) more practise in my case. You’re right, blogging is great fun if one has the time and it’s astounding how many talented artists blog – all really friendly and encouraging too.

  6. July 11, 2009 9:23 pm

    Your post inspired me to do one on “my Diebenkorn” about a small copy of RD’s huge painting “Berkeley #57” that I made some years back. It now sits near the computer!

    The post is here:

    • July 12, 2009 10:06 am

      Welcome alethakuschan! Inspire? That feels good. 🙂 I’ve dipped into your blog from the WordPress tag pages before and drooled over admired your koi paintings. I’m ashamed to admit that I’d never heard of Richard Diebenkorn before – but after a quick search – realised that I’d seen his work before.

  7. August 23, 2009 5:57 pm

    This is a fascinating topic. I guess there’s a huge amount that falls into the category of abstract. For me the interesting question is why we like some of it & dislike others.
    I guess a lot of abstraction is simply a matter of scale.For example just recently I have copied one small detail from a painting i did & increased the size of this part 3 x to create another painting. If you kept doing this eventually it would become abstract. At what point do we say something is abstract? I think there is often an overlap here.

    On the other hand abstract expressionism isn’t anything to do with this & I have to confess that I don’t have a clue how you are supposed to tell a good Jackson Pollock from a bad one?!

    • August 24, 2009 9:24 am

      I’m more ignorant than I’d like about most art and particularly about abstract – but I really like your idea of turning a painting into an abstract by focusing on one part of it.

  8. sonya chasey permalink
    August 24, 2009 12:56 pm


    Aren’t we all ignorant to varying degrees? Don’t be so mean on yourself – even the greatest expert could never know everything. I think the only approach is to remain forever curious & to believe you can always learn something new.


  1. My Diebenkorn, My “Berkeley” « Aletha Kuschan’s Weblog

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