Modernist / Pure Abstraction Assignment

Revisiting the formal, pure and physical languages within the painting discipline

Assignment and Objectives:
Complete a large-scale painting on stretched canvas (3 x 4 feet minimum) with small studies that emphasize concepts demonstrating the language of painting. The work should demonstrate a variety of formal concerns in the picture plane such as the use of colour, shapes, scale shifts, composition and mark making using primarily oil paint, but may use acrylic and or commercial house paint as a base for the work. You have the option of developing collaged materials into the painting provided the above objectives and the points below are followed. All attempts should be made in the painting assignment to not reference anything representational.

1) Your painting should consist of as many forms and spaces as possible with a complex but unified composition in each work. Consider intervals between elements and allow for focal points where there are areas of multiple overlapping shapes that interact with each other while simultaneously interacting within the overall composition.

2) Space should vary from deep to shallow with a variety of line and shapes. Also consider variations of visual weight in the line and shapes.

3) Avoid literal or conventional methods to depict shallow and deep spaces. Spaces and forms can be fragmented and or abstracted through experimentation with painting materials.

4) Consider the reality of the painting medium (language of the medium) on the 2 dimensional surface of your picture plane. (thick and thin applications of painting mediums and mark making) and consider your options in terms of a surface. Some areas will require numerous layers of painting materials while other areas will work with minimal applications of materials. As well during the painting process some areas of the paintings should involve scraping and erasing.

Studies or Smaller Preliminary Works:
The purpose of the studies is to assist you in the investigation of this assignment. All the objectives do not have to be met in each study but rather should be used to take risks and experiment with to find all the required objectives. The studies are not about making something small and then duplicating that small study at a large scale. Instead the studies and the larger work should feed off each other. During the process there should be a back and forth of working between the studies and the large work (especially at the beginning stages of the painting) As well studies may include manipulations of digital photos of the large work taken while in progress. In general it is strongly recommended that you photograph the work in progress and periodically make some inexpensive prints at home to work on in order to consider all potential directions to develop the work. Overall experiment and investigate various options thoroughly with the studies and the large work.

Steps of Process to Consider for Developing Painting(s):
Avoid having every formal and conceptual component of your painting pre-planned or “figured out” before you begin. This will eventually suffocate any desire to work, because it is almost impossible to pre-plan every step in the process and get positive results.

If you are stuck with no ideas it is best to immediately start painting with vague ideas and some random organic and geometric shapes such as in some of the posted examples.

Prepare yourself mentally for a process of:
risk, unexpected direction, layering, reworking, researching, making small preliminary works, applying criticism, generally experimenting with conviction in your painting, and you will have a very successful work.

Optional Readings (Assistance in developing assignment):
Also there is the option to consider excerpts from Search for the Real a small book by Hans Hofmann, or excepts from survey books such as Art Speak by Robert Atkins (small book), The Visual Arts: a history by Hugh Honour and John Fleming, 7th edition p 844, and essays: Modernist Painting by Clement Greenberg. Considering the Hofmann, Atkins, Honour/Fleming and Greenberg's readings may assist you when developing ideas in your painting.

For a broader view outside the Modernist /Pure Abstraction painting assignment objectives other texts such as Art of the Postmodern Era, by Irving Sandler, Contemporary Art: Art since 1970 by Brandon Taylor, Five Faces of Modernity by Matei Calinescu and essay: Action Painting: Crisis and Distortion by Harold Rosenberg. These other texts offer debates, alternatives and opposition to Greenberg’s ideas regarding Modernism.




EXAMPLES for GUIDANCE
The examples presented here for the Modernist assignment are meant as a guide. Not all examples below meet all of the objectives for the assignment but instead offer a range of partial ideas that can be cohesively comprehended, synthesized and applied to the specific requirements of the modernist assignment.

For additional student examples of a similar assignment from my drawing courses please view the following link:
http://derekbruecknercourseinformation.blogspot.com/2009/06/pure-abstraction-modernist-drawing-and.html


Advanced Painting 4 x 4 feet mixed media and paint on collaged paper Spring 2005


Advanced Painting 4 x 4 feet mixed media and paint on collaged paper Spring 2005


Advanced Painting 4 x 4 feet mixed media and paint on collaged paper Spring 2005






Painting 1 course 2003
(the above four images are four different stages of same work)
approximately 4 x 3 feet



Painting 1 course 2003
(the above two images are two different stages of same work)
approximately 3 x 4 feet


Advanced Painting course   2005
approximately 3 x 2 feet

Painting 1 course 2003
approximately 18 x 24 inches



Advanced Drawing (2nd Year Drawing course) June 2002
Stage 1 of Project
This work is from a 2nd year drawing class but even for an intro painting course demonstrates an exceptional use of scale and editing in the next 5 images posted below. For the purposes of this particular painting 1 assignment students should avoid representational references or illustrating (no outlines on forms) and no using black.

Stage 2

Stage 3

Stage 4
An exceptional example of editing and risk taking

Stage5

Advanced Drawing June 2002 Final Stage For the purposes of this particular painting 1 assignment students should avoid representational references or illustrating (no outlines on forms) and no using black. As well this assignment will require working on stretched canvases or rectangular/square boards with no found objects inside or outside the picture plane (such as the interesting context of the paint can presented in this example above)


Fundamentals of Drawing circa Feb 2001     approximately 18 x 24 inches
This small work is from a foundations drawing class but even for an intro painting course demonstrates a very good combination of organic and geometric shapes and some interesting figure ground relationships are demonstrated as well. For the purposes of this particular painting 1 assignment students should avoid representational forms (such as cityscape references in this example) or illustrating (no outlines or using black)


circa 2002 Above Image is Earlier Stage of Painting Below   approximately 18 x 24 inches

circa 2002 Final Stage     approximately 18 x 24 inches


circa 2002 Above Image is Earlier Stage of Painting Below   approximately 18 x 24 inches

circa 2002 Final Stage      approximately 18 x 24 inches



Fundamentals of Drawing Feb 2002
This work is from a foundations drawing class but even for an intro painting course demonstrates an exceptional use of scale and a good use of geometric shapes and pattern with some preliminary understanding of gesture and mark making. For the purposes of this particular painting 1 assignment students should avoid representational references or illustrating (no outlines on forms)


Fundamentals of Drawing Feb 2009      approximately 8 x 4 feet
This work is from a foundations drawing class but even for an intro painting course demonstrates an excellent use of scale and a very good combination of organic and geometric shapes. For the purposes of this particular painting 1 assignment students should avoid modeling forms or illustrating (no outlines or high lights or shadows on forms)



Painting 1 course 2003
(the above two images are two different stages of same work)
approximately 3 x 4 feet

As well see other examples of Pure abstraction from Derek Brueckner's Drawing course blog:

http://derekbruecknercourseinformation.blogspot.com/2009/06/pure-abstraction-modernist-drawing-and.html

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