Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Art Adventure: Color Field

This is another master artist lesson. 

Mark Rothko was an American painter that worked in a famous circle of artists in the 1940s in New York City. This group consisted mostly of surrealist or abstract expressionist painters. His later work is characterized by large floating rectangles of color. These became known as Color Field paintings.

The National Gallery of Art has a great little introduction to Rothko if you care to check it out.

You can see, even in the picture, that there is a lot of depth within the colors. It is even more expressive in person. Rothko, and other contemporaries of his, believed in the power of color to affect and elicit emotion.

Color Field Pictures

  • tissue paper (2 or 3 colors)
  • one piece white cardstock
  • glue
  • paint brush
  • scissors

Instead of using paint, we will use translucent tissue paper to build up the subtle layers of color. When picking color remember that the colors will show through and effect each other, so pick colors that will blend well. Any colors you normally mix together to make another (red, blue, and yellow) will definitely work.

Mix glue with water so you have a thin, brushable glue.

Start with one color for the whole piece of cardstock. Using the paintbrush, cover the whole piece of cardstock and lay a sheet of tissue paper down, smooth out the art bubbles, but don't worry too much about wrinkles. We'll have wrinkles.

Then begin to build up layers. You do not want to tear your tissue paper into tiny pieces, but you can either cut or tear the paper.

Here we have a second layer of yellow on the bottom half only to get variety.

Start creating floating rectangles of color. Overlapping in different places will create that depth found in Rothko's paintings.

If a color seems too bold or bright, try overlapping it with the background color.

You will not always need to brush on more glue, only use it when the paper is not wet enough for the new layer to cling. You can put the glue on top rather than under as well.

It's okay to go off the edges. When finished and while wet, you can carefully fold the edges to the back. Or you can wait for it to dry and trim with scissors.

If you get super impatient waiting for it to dry, you can use a hairdryer; just use sweeping even motions across the whole paper. 

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  1. I've always loved Rothkos work- the colours are amazing aren' t they?

  2. Yes, I love Rothko's work. The colors are so expressive. He's long been a favorite of mine.


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