Thursday, March 15, 2012

rothko comes to town

“Regarded as one of the leading American artists of the 20th century, Mark Rothko (1903-1970) began his life in art as Marcus Rothkowitz in Portland Oregon. “ portland art museum ...I went to visit his 45-painting exhibition two weeks ago with my youngest daughter, Anna, who is interested in painting.  From a 10 year old's view point - these paintings seemed like something she could do and she was inspired.   I have highlighted the word ‘seemed’ because if you have ever tried to mimic one of Rothko’s paintings you would know that it is not as easy as it looks.  The forms are simple, yes, but the depth of color is magical. They are studies in color with titles like BLACK IN DEEP RED or No. 14/ No. 10 (Yellow Greens).

Some of them are untitled. You may wonder how he became so famous with seemingly little deep thought involved? These are not simply tubes of paint squirted onto the canvas.  There are layers of color, one on top of the other, that fade out and overlap with no apparent logic.  For me the effect is a cold splash in the face on a hot summer day... your first kiss...seeing your children after a long departure.  Rothko was an Abstract Expressionist painter, interested in the emotional force of pure color.  He was an intellectual, and loved to argue endlessly about the problems of 'art'. This brought him fame in the New York art scene of the 40's, 50's, and 60's. 

Color field painting is a type of ‘color blocking’ and can be used to depict a real object or scene as well.   I did this painting below over a year ago using this method.  Rothko used oils and you can tell. Oils produce a much richer, thicker, depth of color.  After seeing his works up close I am re-inspired.  Anna and I are ready to throw some paint!

 Untitled, 2011 acrylic on canvas 9x12"

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