Improvisational Abstracts

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Improv on the Street

I painted this abstract acrylic on canvas while listening to live jazz at Grand Junction’s popular annual street festival. It’s part of my improvisational series. I enjoy allowing a work to reveal itself . I haven’t had time to paint since Spring Art Week, but it’s instructive to look back at previous work.

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Oh, Oh, Oh!

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This is one of three large acrylic paintings on canvas done to fit the theme of a contemporary art show in a local gallery. The theme was "Text."

At the time, I had just finished the manuscript for my phonics book, "ABC, Follow Me!" The book concerns itself with the shapes of letters as well as the sounds they represent. It also includes a number of craft projects to teach these shapes. In short, I had letters on my mind.

I started the first painting with an elaborate concept, but it just wasn't working, so I let it dry and moved to another. The same thing happened. The deadline was approaching, and I didn't know what to do.

Then, I decided to use letters as English words. I painted each of the large canvases with a different pure hue. I started with I, I, I, I; moved to three U's ("Oh lucky You"), which add another layer, as they suggest horseshoes. The one shown here is "Oh, Oh, Oh". It calls to mind the famous joke:

A first grade teacher comes out to the parking lot and sees her bumper dented. Then she fumes, "Oh, oh, oh! Look, look, look! Darn, darn, darn!

Recently, I used the concept I developed with these paintings in a demonstration for school children. We made paintings on bright hues if single letters.

The Butterfly Effect

Inspired by a challenge on Red Bubble and based upon my extremely limited understanding of Chaos Theory, this digital work began as a tiny portion of an original photograph. I enlarged my selection, changed the colors, mirrored it twice, filtered it multiple times, and changed the colors again. The bird just appeared.

Electricity in Blue

I love this series of expressionist works. I begin each one with a random element, such as a word chosen from a printed source, background music, or a brushstroke contributed by an onlooker. I then add more thick paint, or a glaze and see what the canvas has to tell me.

This particular piece was featured in a beautiful short film called “Lumenis” by Brazilian composer and filmmaker Bernardo Uzeda. (http://bernardouzeda.kinghost.net/)

Something Fishy

Kindergarteners took turns painting colorful fish on a green background, which I modified into this abstract pond. Show a print of this picture as a sample and invite primary students to create a fish painting in tempera. (This one is acrylic on canvas.) Limit the colors to three or, at most, four.

Night Clouds

To create this demonstration painting for school children at the Western Colorado Center for the Arts, I began by reading the poem “Night Clouds” by Amy Lowell. I asked the students to name their favorite images (word pictures) from the work. This particular group chose the “vermillion tongue” of the rising sun. Students took turns painting red tongues on the blank canvas. Between sessions, I added more color to the images and layered them with glazes that included various shades of reds and orange. The kids loved the poem and I enjoyed sharing the experience.