New Painting: Frogs and Snails and Wiggledy Tails

"Frogs and Snails and Wiggledy Tails" Oil on canvas 18" x 18" © 2011 Marilyn Fenn
“Frogs and Snails and Wiggledy Tails” Oil on canvas 18″ x 18″ © 2011 Marilyn Fenn

My husband brought me flowers for our anniversary a couple weeks ago.  I got enchanted with the idea of using flowers as a way into shape creation for continuing my abstract paintings, but I was seduced by the representation of the irises and alstroemeria.  The vase in this painting is part representation, part abstraction; around the vase are some abstractions of some frog and snail toys (that you may or may not be able to discern), plus some shapes echoed from the abstracted reflections in the vase…and then there’s just some paint jazz. 😉

Abstract Art, colorful, flower paintings

New Painting: Clobbered by Picasso

"Clobbered by Picasso" Oil on canvas 12" x 12" © 2011 Marilyn Fenn
“Clobbered by Picasso” Oil on canvas 12″ x 12″ © 2011 Marilyn Fenn

After copying a Picasso last week, I started seeing so many things differently! Palette, shapes, composition…my copy of his painting in among my own paintings made my work pale in comparison. 🙁

OK, well, no surprise there.

I tried to return to what I had been doing before the Picasso copy and started using colors from his palette to attack this work that was already in progress. Picasso kept interfering as I struggled with thoughts of the strength of his work.

A few days and many changes later, I finally got back into the rhythm of my own vision and ended up here. FWIW.

New Painting: Beast of Burden

"Beast of Burden" Oil on canvas 6" x 6" © 2011 Marilyn Fenn
“Beast of Burden” Oil on canvas 6″ x 6″ © 2011 Marilyn Fenn

This is kind of a goofy little painting that I was really just noodling around on.  It went through several changes over about a week of occasional noodling, and this is where it ended up.  I gave it that title because it reminds me of the little donkeys I saw in Morocco being led across the desert or in the medinas, stacked practically to the sky with all sorts of household goods, water, cans, people, rugs, etc.  Mighty little fellows!

A Copy After Picasso

Copy After Picasso's "Nude and Still Life, c. 1931" Oil on canvas 18" x 12" © 2011 Marilyn Fenn
Copy After Picasso’s “Nude and Still Life, c. 1931″ Oil on canvas 18″ x 12” © 2011 Marilyn Fenn

On Google+, a very vibrant community of artists has been growing all summer and fall.  A challenge was proposed to do a study after Picasso or an interpretation of one or more of his works.  While most of the other artists did an interpretation, I chose to copy this delightful painting of Picasso’s.  Perhaps I am trying to make up for two copies I never completed in art school.

When I first found this work online, I thought it looked like a cartoon version of a Picasso painting, or what Picasso would paint if he were painting a cartoon version of his own work.  It is such a fun image, I couldn’t resist!

I couldn’t find this painting in any of my books on Picasso.  Online, there are many copies of this painting, but they are all different in how the colors are displayed.  I finally found what I can only guess to be a fairly accurate version, which I found at this website, at the far end of row 7: Picasso paintings.  This image seems less manipulated to me than many of the others online (for instance, you can see the cracks in the paint very clearly) and the colors strike me as being more representative of what colors would have been available to Picasso at that time.  However, I’m no expert, so don’t take what I say as definitive.

Even though this painting displays practically the whole spectrum of the color palette, I think Picasso used only 8 or 9 colors to mix that whole spectrum. These are the colors I decided to use to attempt to replicate this Picasso work:

  1. flake white
  2. ivory black
  3. cadmium yellow lemon
  4. cadmium yellow medium
  5. cadmium red medium
  6. alizarin crimson
  7. ultramarine blue
  8. cobalt blue
I also used a smidge of cadmium green to green up the shape in the lower right-hand corner, though now I think he may have gotten that brighter green mix with cerulean blue instead.
my guess about Picasso's color palette
The 8 colors I think Picasso used in Nude and Still Life, c. 1931

I did try to mix my colors to match his exactly, and now that I am able to view a photo of my painting next to the work I was using for reference, I see some differences; but overall, I think it’s pretty close.

I also tried to match the way he applied paint, though as I painted this whole thing in two days, and my paint was wet throughout the whole process, I wasn’t really able to replicate what I think he did. For example, I think he may have begun with the black lines and then painted the colored areas afterward, as you can see quite a few areas where the colors are painted over the black lines, leaving just a tiny bit of black peeking out from under the edges. I painted the colored areas in first, as I knew it would cause a terrible mess if the colored paint ran into the still wet black lines.

There are areas, though, where he very clearly painted white lines to cover black lines. I think he probably did this for the purposes of the design of this canvas, as once the white lines are applied, it really changes how the whole image reads, plus they help pull your eye around the canvas, from the head down what I think is an arm, around the–are they breasts?–then a hop to the white lines through the blue areas down to the bottom left and center of the canvas.

Picasso's “Nude and Still Life, c. 1931″
Picasso’s “Nude and Still Life, c. 1931″
My copy After Picasso’s “Nude and Still Life, c. 1931″
My copy After Picasso’s “Nude and Still Life, c. 1931″











Has copying this Picasso helped me understand him? I don’t know; I do feel like I understood his process of painting this painting, though I still cannot figure out what all the parts of this painting are and what they belong to. Wall, floor, chair rail and baseboard, pitcher, head and eyes, I get; the rest is a mystery to me. If anyone knows more about what Picasso did in this work, what he meant, or how to read his image, I would be delighted to hear.

If you’d like to see all the other artists’ interpretations of Picasso, you can find them here on Google+.

New Painting: Quest for Magic

"Quest for Magic" Oil on canvas 12" x 12" 2011 Marilyn Fenn
“Quest for Magic” Oil on canvas 12″ x 12″ 2011 Marilyn Fenn

The greatest work of an artist is the history of a painting.
– Alberti

The title of this painting could embody a state of grace that many people seek throughout their lives. It could symbolize the wishes that most artists aspire to obtain through their creations. Or it could represent my recent series of abstract paintings. In this case, it represents another painting in the series through which I am beginning to achieve a long sought after enchantment with my process and pleasure in the final result.

Every painting, and perhaps especially abstract paintings, start out as a journey with the destination unknown. The thrill of exploration is a great part of the goal. What can I make my colors and brushstrokes do? How do I push the paint around in interesting ways? How can I make an intriguing composition out of nothing but colored oil paint and a few shapes?

These first few works in the series are small and slow, and I’m still finding my footing, but I’m really looking forward to more and larger and more confident works. I’m thrilled to have reached this part of my journey, and excited about the rest of the trip. I hope it is a long one!

New Painting: Strange Attractors

"Strange Attractors" Oil on canvas 12" x 12" © 2011 Marilyn Fenn
“Strange Attractors” Oil on canvas 12″ x 12″ © 2011 Marilyn Fenn

This is one of my favorite paintings from my latest series of abstracts; this one is from last weekend. These new works are very process-oriented, though of course, I do aim for a final happy outcome. This series is primarily about paint: pushing it over, around, through, beside, until I’m satisfied with the composition, shapes, colors, brushstrokes, and amount of paint. I do love the soft palette I achieved in this painting!

New Painting: Molecular Vibrations

“Molecular Vibrations” Oil on canvas 12″ x 12″ © 2011 Marilyn Fenn

Of all the paintings I’ve done, this may be my favorite painting so far. I love the colors, the nice thick paint, and the general happiness of this painting. It evolved from the work I did on the last five abstract paintings. I’m really enjoying pushing thicker and slicker paint into, over, around, and through previous brushstrokes, and the wonderful color mixing that happens on the canvas. Working this way is going to be fun!

New Painting: Trial Separation

"Trial Separation" Oil on canvas 12" x 12" © 2011 Marilyn Fenn
“Trial Separation” Oil on canvas 12″ x 12″ © 2011 Marilyn Fenn

I have a few paintings from a couple years ago that never really worked, so I painted over one of them a couple months ago, but never got it to a finishing point.  Last week, I reworked the painting one more time.  It’s a bit rough and looks slightly different and much better from a distance, so I may either re-work it (again) or paint what I like from it in a larger more intentional work.  However, some of my friends like it just like it is, so I have decided to live with it for a bit first.