Choosing my final outcome

Summary of the project “Chasing Pavements”

This project has been about the Urban landscape and the flowers and plants which flourish or struggle to survive with in a manmade environment.

I have enjoyed experimenting with a large variety of mixed media, thinking about line, colour, space and composition.  I have worked on a small scale to avoid over thinking the mark making process. Below are a selection of my outcomes which I am pleased with. I decided to buy an assortment of frames from various charity shops, with a view to photographing my outcomes outside in my garden to use the natural light and to push my work to final conclusions.

For the past year I have been working at a Covid Testing Site, I find that being outside for 12 hrs per day has given me plenty of time to really look and study the weather and the natural enviroment within the boundaries of a large car park.  I am interested in how the light changes throughout the days, there have been days when we have had all four seasons in a day. I enjoy the effect the light has on grey, wet, windy days, particularly on the colours of the fresh new leaves in spring.

These are the first paintings I did for this project looking at forms in a space.

Oil on paper
P. Efstathiou 2021
12cm x12cm
Oil on paper
P. Efstathiou 2021
12cm x12cm

Again these earlier paintings are still geometric but the lines are representational of plant life expanding into and over walls and buildings.

Acrylic paint and ink on canvas
Penny Efstathiou 2021
26cm x20cm

Acrylic paint and ink on canvas
Penny Efstathiou 2021
26cm x20cm

I used a wax relief process with inks and water based mediums on these small pieces. I used different views of the same subject matter for these works. I tried to restrict myself on my colours and the selection of tools I used, trying to keep simple line work and also scraping back into the paint for an atmospheric feel. I have taken these four small works to be professionally framed.

Mixed Media on Fabiano paper
Penny Efstathiou 2021

I have noticed through my observations that whether you have a flat or hilly landscape, Urban or rural, there are things that you find interesting and which you start to notice while observing the local environment. It helps me to record my every day in photographs, which I use for inspiration. I am trying to approach my work in a place in between intuition and thinking about the marks I am making in my work.

I used the wax relief process again on the sketches below as I wanted to evoke the feelings which I get when I look at the views of gardens, buildings of red bricks and the flowers which hang and expand over walls and fences showing the beautiful colours which spring offers to us. I used line work over the top to create a sense of this. Diffusing the colours with water to give a sense of different tones and depth.

Mixed media on Fabiano paper
Penny Efstathiou 2021
Unframed 15cm x15cm
Mixed media on Fabiano paper
Penny Efstathiou 2021
Unframed 15cm x15cm
Mixed media on Fabiano paper
Penny Efstathiou 2021
Unframed 15cm x15cm

The canvases below are larger and are colour led paintings, spreading the paint thickly with a palette knife, scratching into it, experimenting with a freer approach ,to abstract them. I used mainly primary colours to give warmth, and to contrast the light and dark areas.

I have found it interesting how quickly the colours change from the beginning of spring to now , so I have tried to capture that in these paintings.

Acrylic paint on paper
Penny Efstathiou 2021
Unframed 30cm x 21cm
Acrylic paint on canvas board
62 cm x51 cm
Penny Efstathiou 2021

I created these paintings below together on three large canvases which I made in the workshop. I started the sketches outside “on plein air” and finished them inside. I am pleased with the outcomes they have a feel of spring but also have a sense of a breathable space and are from a pick and mix of memories from walking about in my local environment.

Mark making on the Tryptic

Three large canvases painting and mark making process and annotations.

I started the canvas by using a silver spray paint and then added some trajectory lines in charcoal and coloured water colour pencils.

I started the canvases outside as I find the light is better in the early morning light, the shadows are less defined and the elements lack sharpness.

I sketched out the shapes of the plants growing with the new shoots appearing on them and also used the geometric shapes of the fence panels and walls to divide the canvass into separate parts.

I used a limited palette of primary colours to start. Experimenting with tones and shades in mixing up the colours ‘trying to keep a dull matt effect with the paint.

Ivon Hitchens

I saw the  Ivon Hitchens: Space Through Colour exhibition at The Lakeside Gallery in 2019 and went back to the Gallery numerous times ,I am really interested and inspired by his colour palette and his abstraction of nature.

Image result for ivon hitchens landscapes at lakeside gallery nottingham
IVON HITCHENS: Saturday 2 November 2019 – Sunday 23 February 2020
Djanogly Gallery | Lakeside Arts Exhibition

I have looked at the British artist Ivon Hitchens who is best known for his abstract, panoramic depictions of woodland landscapes near his home in West Sussex. His works utilize abbreviated fields of colour perceived from a landscape rather than exact forms.

In the 1920s and ’30s, Hitchens was part of London’s Avant Garde and was profoundly influenced by artists such as Cézanne, Matisse and Braque.

He became part of the ‘London Group’ of artists and exhibited with them during the 1930s. His house was bombed in 1940 during World War II, at which point he moved to a caravan on a patch of woodland near Petworth in West Sussex. 

 Hitchens rarely travelled away from the woodland. His paintings were incredibly structured, the artist creating a skeleton of the landscape from which he found differing viewpoints and drew various abstractions; characteristics that are seen prominently in a number of his panoramic paintings.

“The constant transition of natural light provided him with endless inspiration; subtle tonal divisions contrasting with white areas of the canvas that allow the eye to rest. They are works defined by an astonishing structural integrity.”

“You can see real movement in his paintings. And you’ve also got the progression of time going across the canvas, which are concepts he first started developing while he was in London.”

Through continued experimentation and a heightening of his colour palette, his works were, in the last decade of his life, almost completely abstract, whilst still rooted in the landscape that had provided his inspiration since the war.

I have found painting on these canvases quite challenging, so I am slowly layering them in different mediums. I decided to use wax and masking tape to help preserve the white of the canvas. I put a low horizon line across all three ,to keep them related to each other. I masked out some horizontal and diagonal lines to create hard edges to represent fences and edges.

I am pleased with the three canvases, I feel they have a sense of spring and the lines give it perspective. The colour pallet works harmoniously together, and for me it represents the spring flowers around the streets. The bright yellows of dandelions struggling through the cracks, the light green of fresh spring leaves opening and expanding hanging over walls and fences and the beautiful lilac purple blooms which are extremely fragrant in the spring sunshine.

I shall spend the next few days off, taking photographs in different lights, inside and outside at different times of the day.

Scale and making canvases for my outcome.

Scale in painting.

I find that large canvases, can be intimidating as they need a lot of paint and mark making, as there is more surface to cover. However some styles of painting lend themselves better to exceptionally large scale, I am thinking about abstract expressionism.

Which is why for this projects, primary and secondary sketches I decided to paint and draw on a very small scale. I think it has helped me develop a more, relaxed abstract and looser approach towards the canvas.

 As humans we usually place ourselves in the centre of the visible world, so artworks are measured regarding proportion relative to the general human scale. They become defined as large, life-size, miniature, or even enormous. The scale in art is often an important factor in defining the meaning and significance of each work, particularly in contemporary art.

 Among contemporary artists there are many who play with scale, such as Jeff Koons and Claus Oldenburg. Significance of their works partially comes from unusual scale their works have, which tends to disrupt cultural traditions and viewing practices.

Image result for claes oldenburg
Spoonbridge and Cherry is a sculptural fountain designed by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen.
Koons’s Seated Ballerina (2017), an inflatable nylon sculpture that stands 45 feet high and is based on a small porcelain figurine of a dancer

This is the space which I have been allocated to hang my final work. I am unsure how the natural light will work in the space, as this will effect the viewing experience. Luckily, there are window blinds which I can close if the light is to bright. I am keen on having dull lighting to evoke early morning. I will try photographing my work in different natural light both indoors and outside at different times of day. (see teams folder)

I made 3 large canvases 110 cm x 43 cm.

I like this size canvas ,it reminds me of eastern art,. which I find visually pleasing, it often has a calm and elegant quality in its aesthetic beauty.

It also represents to me the action of looking out of windows , which since the lockdowns, I have done a lot more of, than I would usually do. Being in our own enclosed environments.

This is an ink painting which was painted for me, when I was a child by a Chinese painter friend of my parents (mid 70’s). I still enjoy the painting today as much as I did when it was first painted .It is part of a tryptic.

I painted the canvas with a gesso primer so it has a rough texture to it, which I like, as it feels like a rough wood fence panel or concrete post.

Unfortunately I have overstretched the canvas so it has a indented edge all the way around the centre, so I will try and incorporate that into the painting so it looks less like a rectangle in a rectangle !!!!!!!!

Mini sketches inspired by spring in the city

Annotation and thoughts on the small sketches.

I have enjoyed this experimentation with smaller canvas’s, reducing the size has been helpful in the regard of the process.

I have also timed the sketches and allowed only 20 minutes per sketch. I have painted 4 at a time, using the same color palette on all of them.

I have used a variety of different papers with different surfaces rough and smooth to explore how the paint applies and reacts to the textures. I wanted these sketch’s to have a sense of the overgrown ,expanding nature in the environment in spring.

In the sketch’s above I was exploring ways to add an atmospheric light the feeling of a grey dull, spring day where the light is different. I Used charcoal and ink with water to diffuse them, and lighten them. I then worked into them with a black wax pastel for some heavier trajectory lines.

I researched Artists from the romantic period of landscape paintings and looked at the techniques they used. Certain Romantic artists made innovations that later movements incorporated as crucial elements. John Constable (1776-1837) had a tendency to use tiny brushstrokes of pure pigments to emphasize dappled light in his landscapes. He discovered that, when viewed from a distance, his dots of colour merged. This development was taken up with great enthusiasm by the Barbizon School, the Impressionists, and the Pointillists. Romanticism period was a cultural awakening in the art world, so it’s no surprise it produced some of the most historic paintings in the history of the world. The movement championed spiritualism over science, instinct over deliberation, nature over industry, democracy over subjugation, and the rusticity over the aristocracy. Again, these are all concepts open to extremely personalized interpretation and these ideas are still very relevant today The studies and finished work of the British painter J.M.W. Turner were abstract in everything but the name.

Sun Setting over a Lake c.1840 Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851 Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

In the Sketches below I have used a loose approach to applying the mixed media materials.

I used wax relief on the above sketches, as i find it helps to keep the white of the paper visible. I used Fabiano paper , ink and water to create lines and textures.

I am pleased with these “sketchs”The colour palette is harmonious, the lines give a sense of movement and an expansion, giving a sense of growth overall.

I had hoped that they would fit into the small charity shop frames but they were to small, as i had painted them more landscape than square.

I have decided to take them to be framed by a local framer. Unfortunately they will not be ready for presentation day, However I will share them on a future blog.

I have decided to use the wax relief process moving forward, mainly to ensure I keep some of the original canvas showing. It helps me to keep light and contrast. I find it gives an atmospheric feeling to the work which I like.

Artist Research on colour

Image result for 1024 colors
1024 Colours
Gerhard Richter
Original Title: 1024 Farben
Date: 1973
Style: Conceptual Art, Op Art
Theme: Colour Charts
Genre: abstract
Media: oil, canvas

1024 colours (1973) is one of Richter’s well-known colour chart paintings, which he began producing in the late 1960s. They were inspired by the commercial colour charts found in hardware stores. Here, the different colours have no particular meaning or significance. He used colour as a “readymade”,an object found in the hardware store and another part of consumer culture.

Even though the painting mimics a commercial colour chart, the colours are not grouped in the same order. Instead, the painting was created through a predetermined mathematical system, and the colours were distributed at random across the grid. The white lines that form the grid are equally spaced, and each colour occupies equal space within the painting. This kind of distribution points to indifference and meaninglessness: it is part of the artist’s premise that it is impossible to combine colours in a meaningful way.

Gerhard Richter Biography, Art, and Analysis of Works | The Art Story: 26/05/2021

ARTIST Gerhard Richter born 1932
ORIGINAL TITLE Abstraktes Bild (809-3)
MEDIUM Oil paint on canvas
DIMENSIONS Support: 2300 × 2048 × 75 mm
COLLECTION ARTIST ROOMS Tate and National Galleries of Scotland

From the mid 1980s, Richter began to use a home-made squeegee to rub and scrape the paint that he had applied in large bands across his canvases. He spread the paint over the surface and integrated the various colours with each other.

In the 1990s the artist began to run his squeegee up and down the canvas in an ordered fashion to produce vertical columns that take on the look of a wall of planks. ‘Abstraktes Bild (809-3)’ is typical of these paintings.

One effect of the use of the squeegee was to create a blurring of one area of colour into another – similar to the blurring in Richter’s earlier photo-paintings – so that one has the feeling of looking at an out of focus image, that lies tantalisingly beyond decipherment.

Image result for Gerhard Richter Most Famous Painting
Abstraktes Bild 599 – Gerhard Richter

Gerhard Richters work is a exciting ,his use and process of applying paint to a canvas is in my opinion beautiful and elegant. He captures an essence. 

Picturing things, taking a view, is what makes us human; art is making sense and giving shape to that sense. It is like the religious search for God. … (

His use of colour in his works walk the line between paintings and photography, one of the most important developments in art in the past century.

He has never really adhered to a specific style or movement; nor has he stuck to a single medium. Richter has made art that is aware of its own limitations, and played with the idea of chance in photography and painting. His impact on the art world is undeniable.

Mixed media sketch on acrylic paper Penny Efstathiou 2021

I created this loose sketch using a palette knife and loaded it with paint in primary colours. Scraping back the wet layers to leave heavy lines in the paint . experimenting with the way Gerhard Richter did creating vertical columns that look like a wall of planks. I am pleased with this sketch it has a landscape feel to it.

Mixed media on liner wallpaper Penny Efstathiou 2021

This sketch was experimenting with the action painting technique (Jackson Pollock)I think the loose pink lines have a movement to them like running.

Colours in spring

The poet Gerard Manley Hopkins begins his poem, by giving a simple judgement about spring, there is nothing more beautiful. The speaker associates the weeds of spring, which grow up in great numbers, with wheels. This is a strange connection, but the important association is to do with motion. Everything is moving. The weeds are “long and lovely and lush.” 

“Nothing is so beautiful as Spring –          

When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;”     

Spring has an energy and vibrancy with the new leaves and buds appearing it is a show of beauty and the power of nature .

I feel that I view a lot of my daily life looking at bright and zesty colours which conjure up the essence of spring? From everyday plant life changing colours and shapes, which I want to convey in my work.

Mixing colours is not something i have really studied in great detail. I shall research artists who deal with colour like Matisse and Gerhard Richter.

I also researched some poetry about spring I discovered this poem by

Emily Dickinson, ‘A Light Exists in Spring‘.

Written in around 1864 but not published until 1896 (as with many of Dickinson’s poems), ‘A Light Exists in Spring’ beautifully captures the way that spring slowly appears in our consciousness, like a light in the distance. She seems to acknowledge what we call ‘SAD’ or Seasonal Affective Disorder, with the passing of spring affecting our contentedness. 

The poet seems to say how she can almost interact with the light, and the beauty of nature which the light opens her eyes to.

A Light exists in Spring
Emily Dickinson

A Light exists in Spring
Not present on the Year
At any other period —
When March is scarcely here

A Color stands abroad
On Solitary Fields
That Science cannot overtake
But Human Nature feels.

It waits upon the Lawn,
It shows the furthest Tree
Upon the furthest Slope you know
It almost speaks to you.

Then as Horizons step
Or Noons report away
Without the Formula of sound
It passes and we stay —

A quality of loss
Affecting our Content
As Trade had suddenly encroached
Upon a Sacrament.

This poem is in the public domain.

Emily Dickinson (1830 – 1886) is considered a major American poet, though she was not accorded this honor until well after her death, when her younger sister discovered and began to share the enormous body of work that Emily left behind. A recluse who almost always wore white, Emily was born to a prominent Massachusetts family and spent the bulk of her life inside her home in Amherst. Only seven of her poems were published during her lifetime, and virtually none were published as originally written until the mid 1950s. (Emily’s odd punctuation, capitalization, and formatting did not meet with standard publishing “approval” for earlier editions.) There is a whimsical nature to many of her poems, although the subject of death was the most frequent recurring theme.

I found this poem resonate with me about how the essence of nature has a strong effect on our own feelings. Since spending the last year working outside at the Covid Test site (rain ,snow, sleet, blazing sunshine) i have really enjoy the sensations of the elements of natures power. I want to be able to achieve this in my work through line, form and colour.

Larger paintings process and evaluation

I bought this canvas from a charity shop I find this a convieniant way to paint on a larger scale . I also like to use recyclyed materials in my practice.

I used a silver spay paint to cover the elephant, but found it was to transparent.

So I then used some different grey tones of house paint to totally cover the elephant image on the canvas and to create a background.. I find layering the paint in a loose manner, a good starting point for my process, it is a good entry point.

I then used charcoal to sketch some lines for the composition.

I used a reduced palette of colours to add a harmony troughout the painting.

The left of the composition has alot of geometric lines and forms possibly suggesting windows and doors they also add perspective to the image.

Mixed media Acrylic paint and inks on preused canvas 48cm x 48cm Penny Efstathiou 2021

I have noticed some recurring forms in my paintings which I find interesting, the boat shaped curve and also the square. When I place these two paintings together are very similar composition. On the more recent work ,the colours and edges have become much softer, possibly from the new loser process I am using. Also in the one below the colours are more vibrant because I used oil paint rather than Acrylic paint and inks.

Oil and Acrylic on recycled canvas 61cm x61cm Penny Efstathiou 2020

I would like to paint this composition again in a smaller size just to compare them further and see if they work as a tryptic!!!

Why painting is like cooking

“Good painting is like good cooking; it can be tasted, but not explained.”

Maurice de Vlaminck

Maurice de Vlaminck 1876-1958
T01254 Landscape near Martigues 1913
Inscribed ‘Vlaminck’ b.r.
Oil on canvas, 25 5/8 x 32 1/4 (65 x 82)
Bequeathed by Sir Robert Hart, Bt., 1970

Maurice de Vlaminck (4 April 1876 – 11 October 1958) was a French painter. Along with André Derain and Henri Matisse he is considered one of the principal figures in the Fauve movement, a group of modern artists who from 1904 to 1908 were united in their use of intense colour. Vlaminck was one of the Fauves at the controversial Salon d’Automne exhibition of 1905.

After visiting a Van Gogh exhibit, he declared that he “loved Van Gogh that day more than my own father”.

. Rebellious, unruly, and obsessed with the need for independence, it is not surprising that he was, along with Matisse and Derain, a leader of the revolutionary Fauve movement. His paintings often featured unremarkable cityscapes and landscapes. Even though he experimented with the Cubist style, Vlaminck seems to have regarded Cubism as an unworthy opponent of what he saw as the more revolutionary artistic style of the Fauves.

Fauvism valued individual expression. The artist’s direct experience of his subjects, his emotional response to nature, and his intuition were all more important than academic theory or elevated subject matter. All elements of painting were employed in service of this goal.

I think this is why I enjoy the process of mark making in my art practice, it is like cooking! the key elements or ingredient’s are variety, beauty, organization, and harmony. When you cook you always put a variety of good ingredients together and make something new.

We can excite the taste buds with sweet and savoury combinations while serving a variety of colours for the sake of beauty and nutrition. And, we include different textures so by experimenting and using lots of different materials has relaxed my approach to the canvas. Also repeating the process on small sized canvases has helped in the development of my mark making, also thinking how to by use my practical chefs skills in my mark making.

Mixed Media on shop bought canvas
Penny Efstathiou 2021
20cm x25cm

In this small painting which is inspired by the alley ways on my walks, particularly the dandelions which flourish there.

The composition is built up using geometric lines, and perspective. I used a combination of house paint and inks. I am pleased with the outcome it has strong lines which contrast with the softer edges of the ink. Below are some of the visual ingredients that i used, Hard and soft edges, geometric lines and forms and a pinch of colour.

“Maurice de Vlaminck Quotes.” BrainyMedia Inc, 2021. 25 May 2021.

Experiments on looser paint mark making sketches

Exploring and experimenting with colour as it is an important part of my painting practice. To explore mark-making, composition, space, and light within my process of painting. I would like my work to be at a level where I am confident to share my paintings with a wider audience.

I use Art as a way to release my thoughts and feelings, and using paint allows me, as an artist, to be emotionally vulnerable.
Jackson Pollock is an artist who inspires me to paint. His originality and rhythmic use of paint have always influenced how I would like to progress my painting practice.

I do not like the colours in this sketch , they do not harmonize well together . Although they do remind me of fence panels, which I think comes from my subconscious.
Today has not been a good day for painting , to loose, there is no compositional qualities.
Inspired by all the flowering lilac, this sketch has more energy to it in the mark making. The composition is a little to central but it does have some perspective with the light and dark contrasts.
I liked certain elements of this sketch the trajectory of the charcoal over the grey and soft yellow give it perspective and movement.

I decided to push the sketch further by adding more tones and green to represent the push of nature threw the concrete. I bought some small frames from the charity shop with a view to thinking about a finished composition. Still unsure about it !!

Artist research

Artist research Jackson Pollock

Abstract expressionism

Art is not always about portraying a realistic image.

Art can carry a message and provoke thoughts and feelings; this is what Abstract Expressionism, in my opinion, is about. It is not always about looking pretty, it makes you the viewer delve deeper beyond the paint itself. These pieces have a life of their own. Painting and mark making offers multiple ways of exploring ideas through its application. It allows freedom of expression by the process of application.  Since early cave paintings humans have found an inbuilt creative outlet through visual language which has evolved over time, growing, and expanding throughout known history.

Jackson Pollocks abstract expressionist action paintings have a language in the mark making.  An energy which transforms the lines into rhythmic forms which seem to charge across the canvas. He reduces colour, shapes, and line away from any narrative or realist situations. Using the paint to convey pure emotion, distinctive and stimulating using the language of colour and line to play a role in the unconscious. His personal expression is inseparable from the concept of action painting which insisted on the very act of painting, as well as the physical gestures of the mark making process. His work conveys a message of freedom.

Since my first experience of a Jackson Pollock painting in 1999, when his work was honoured with large-scale retrospective at The Tate in London. I attended the exhibition with my mother, who absolutely hated the anger and passion she saw in his work, she left the gallery. I on the other hand felt physically moved by the freedom and passion in his paintings. I admire his spiritual approach to nature and am intrigued by the Jungian psychology, which influenced him in his work.

“I always knew that I was two persons. One was the son of my parents…the other was…old…mistrustful, remote from the world of men, but close to nature, the earth, the sun, the moon…all living creatures…and above all close to the night, to dreams, and to whatever “God” worked directly in him.” – C. G. Jung (Memories, Dream, and Reflections, pp. 44-45)

What Jung called his #1 personality lives in a “real” world of day-to-day concerns, and his #2 personality accesses the vastness of the unconscious, what Jungians call the Self. For life to be complete and grounded we need both personalities.  As a child we play and easily access our imaginal, magical powers. By the time we reach adulthood, we often hide “our truth” and we “do things that we don’t want to do to please others.”

The trick to reclaiming our imaginal powers is to turn all of life into play, so that every day feels magical. If you are walking through life but not really awake, just going through the motions, and keeping up with other people’s expectations of how you should live.

“The spirit of the depths forced me to speak to my soul, to call upon her as a living and self-existing being. I had to become aware that I had lost my soul.” — C. G. Jung (The Red Book, p. 233)

You do not need to sleep to dream. Daydreams speak to us like night dreams if we are willing to listen. A bush in full flower or a pile of rubbish may strike a chord of meaning for you.

What is the first thing that catches your eye as you start your day? Are there “meaningful coincidences” or synchronicities that present themselves causing you to pause in your day? Synchronicities happen every day! The more you pay attention to dreams and synchronicities of life, the greater the bounty.

Looking at his practice from the early works which seem more primitive and colourful. the idea of the act of painting as an intense physical process appeals to me. As in his painting “she wolf” where he manages the essence of the wolf and her power and place in the natural world.

It is how I wish to aspire to paint in my practice.

In 1937 Pollock began psychiatric treatment for alcoholism, and he suffered a nervous breakdown in 1938, which caused him to be institutionalized for about four months. After these experiences, his work became semiabstract and showed the assimilation of motifs from the modern Spanish artists Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró, as well as the Mexican muralist José Clemente Orozco. Jungian symbolism and the Surrealist exploration of the unconscious also influenced his works of this period; indeed, from 1939 through 1941 he was in treatment with two successive Jungian psychoanalysts who used Pollock’s drawings in the therapy sessions. Characteristic paintings from this period include Bird (c. 1941), Male and Female (c. 1942), and Guardians of the Secret (1943).Britannica

The She-Wolf by Jackson Pollock

The She-Wolf is a painting produced by Jackson Pollock in 1943. This painting was featured in Pollock’s first solo exhibition at an Art of This Century gallery in New York in 1943.

The dimension of this painting is 106.4 x 170.2 cm.


Pollock’s Birth is shot through with primeval energy. The process of birth is seen as a desperate struggle. The mask-like faces, drawn from Inuit and Native American art, lend the image an unrestrained energy. Like many modernist artists, Pollock was fascinated by ‘primitive’ art for its expression of fundamental human fears and desires, particularly as traditional ideas of ‘civilization’ were tainted by Europe’s slide into fascism and war. (Gallery label, March 2007)

Summertime Number 9A by Jackson Pollock

Summertime: Number 9A is a painting produced by Jackson Pollock in 1948. The rhythms in this painting reflect his belief that ‘The modern artist is working and expressing an inner world. The dimension of this painting is 848 x 5550 mm.

Regardless of the critic’s viewpoints on that subject, irrespective of the rational definitions of art, the Abstract Expressionists achieved Tolstoy’s ideal and went beyond it to an extent where it helped the viewers to explore thought-provoking ideas about religion, time, space, popular culture, and more.
The art of this time changed the art world forever and affected it like no other movement had done before. To really appreciate and understand the work, I think the history of the time and the artists themselves need to be considered.
The term Abstract expressionism is used to describe the group of artists who lived and worked in the United States of America during the years of 1939 to 1945, following the Second World War. It was the first American art movement which affected the course of international modern art. For centuries, Paris had been the centre of the world’s artists, dealers, and collectors, but in the 1940’s abstract expressionism placed America in centre stage. Swiftly, Abstract Expressionism made New York the centre of the art world.

Number 1A, 1948, oil and enamel on canvas by Jackson Pollock, 1948; in the Museum of Modern Art, New York City. 172.7 × 264.2 cm

While the style of “drip” painting has become synonymous with the name Jackson Pollock, here the artist has autographed the work even more directly, with several handprints found at the composition’s upper right.

“Sometimes I use a brush but often prefer using a stick. Sometimes I pour the paint straight out of the can. I like to use a dripping, fluid paint.” Working on the floor in a spacious converted barn on Long Island, Pollock moved away from traditional artist’s oil paints and embraced lower viscosity commercial enamel paints. The fluidity of this paint allowed him to directly capture the movements of his entire body over the canvas. Around the same time, Pollock stopped giving his paintings evocative titles and began instead to number them. His wife, artist Lee Krasner, later explained, “Numbers are neutral. They make people look at a painting for what it is—pure painting.”

In 1947 Jackson Pollock arrived at a new mode of working that brought him international fame. This direct, physical engagement with his materials welcomed gravity, velocity, and improvisation into the artistic process, and allowed line and colour to stand alone, functioning entirely independently of form.
These works, which came to be known as “drip paintings,” present less a picture than a record of the fluid properties of paint itself. Though self-reflexive in nature, they readily inspire larger interpretations; the explosive, all over expanses of Number 1A, 1948 (1948) and One: Number 31, 1950 (1950) can be seen as registering a moment in time marked by both the thrill of space exploration and the threat of global atomic destruction.

During the Cold War, Pollock’s paintings, and those of his Abstract Expressionist peers, including Mark Rothko, Franz Kline, and Willem de Kooning, were promoted, in exhibitions toured abroad by MoMA’s International Council, as emblems of the freedoms fostered under liberal democracy.
Pollock was employed by the WPA Federal Art Project in the fall of 1935 as an easel painter. This position gave him economic security during the remaining years of the Great Depression as well as an opportunity to develop his art.

Going West
Jackson Pollock Oil on gesso on composition board – National Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C.

During the 1930s, Jackson Pollock was strongly influenced by the American Regionalism of his mentor Thomas Hart Benton, (1889-1975), under whom Pollock had studied at the New York Art Students League. This image of a pioneer journeying West connects Pollock’s emerging style to his own origins. While the scene evokes a sort of gothic mystery, it has been suggested that it comes from a family photo of a bridge in Cody, Wyoming, where Pollock was born.
Going West is characterized by a dark, almost mystical quality similar to another American visionary painter Pollock admired, Albert Pinkham Ryder. The swirling forms which structure the image evoke the emotional intensity of El Greco and Van Gogh. Pollock increasingly incorporated such factors into his own work as a means to express the changing experiences of life in modern America.

Albert Pinkham Ryder

Ryder completed fewer than two hundred paintings, nearly all of which were created before 1900. He rarely signed and never dated his paintings.
While the works of many of Ryder’s contemporaries were partly or mostly forgotten through much of the 20th century, Ryder’s artistic reputation has remained largely intact owing to his unique and forward-looking style. Artists whose work was influenced by Ryder include Marsden Hartley, who befriended him, and Jackson Pollock.
Ryder used his materials liberally and with little regard for sound technical procedures. His paintings, which he often worked on for ten years or more, were built up of layers of paint, resin, and varnish applied on top of each other. He would often paint into wet varnish or apply a layer of fast-drying paint over a layer of slow-drying paint. He incorporated unconventional materials, such as candle wax, bitumen, and non-drying oils, into his paintings. By these means, Ryder achieved a luminosity that his contemporaries admired, his works seemed to “glow with an inner radiance, like some minerals” but the result was short-lived.
Paintings by Ryder remain unstable and become much darker over time; they develop wide fissures, do not fully dry even after decades, and sometimes completely disintegrate. Many of Ryder’s paintings deteriorated significantly even during his lifetime, and he tried to restore them in his later years. Because of this, and because some Ryder paintings were completed or reworked by others after his death, many Ryder paintings appear vastly different today than they did when first created.

Action painting

Rosenberg first used the term “action painting” in the essay “American Action Painters,” published in the December 1952 issue of ART news.
Harold Rosenberg

Rosenberg modelled the term “action painting” on his intimate knowledge of Willem de Kooning’s working process. His essay, “The American Action Painters,” brought into focus the paramount concern of de Kooning, Pollock, and Kline in particular, with the act of painting. For the action painter the canvas was not a representation but an extension of the mind itself, in which the artist thought by changing the surface with his or her brush. Rosenberg saw the artist’s task as a heroic exploration of the most profound issues of personal identity and experience in relation to the large questions of the human condition. Rosenberg, Harold (December 1952). “The American Action Painters”. Art News. 51.

Kaprow, Allan. “The Legacy of Jackson Pollock,” Art News vol. 57 no. 6 (October 1958): 24–26; 55–57.
Varnedoe, Kirk, and Pepe Karmel, eds. Jackson Pollock: New Approaches. New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1999: 10
Woodman, M., Dickson, E. (1997). Dancing in the flames: The dark goddess in the transformation of consciousness. Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications.
Jung, C. G. (1963). Memories, dreams, and reflections. New York: Random House.
Moss, R. (2011). Active dreaming: Journeying beyond self-limitation to a life of wild freedom. Novato, CA: New World Library.
Roberts, Norma J., ed. (1988), The American Collections, Columbus Museum of Art, p. 20, ISBN 0-8109-1811-0
Loan exhibition of the works of Albert P. Ryder, New York, March 11 to April 14, MCMXVIII, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1918
Albert Pinkham Ryder, on Metropolitan Museum of Art Collection Database
See, e.g. Craven, Thomas (December 1927). “An American Master”. The American Mercury. pp. 490–497.
Ludington, Townsend (1992). Marsden Hartley: The Biography of an American Artist. Cornell University Press. pp. 62, 63. ISBN 0801485800.
Naifeh, Steven; Smith, Gregory White (1989). Jackson Pollock: An American Saga. Clarkson N. Potter, Inc. pp. 250–251, 254. ISBN 0-517-56084-4.
Mayer, Lance, and Gay Myers (2013). American Painters on Technique: 1860–1945. Los Angeles, CA: J. Paul Getty Museum. p. 91. ISBN 1606061356.