Artwork of the month: Montauk Highway by Willem de Kooning

I’ve chosen this 1958 painting, “Montauk Highway”, by the great abstract expressionist artist Willem de Kooning as artwork of the month. My memory of it has inspired my abstract painting all my adult life. It’s such a powerful statement and has rich vibrant colour, something that many of de Koonings works possessed. He had an interest in billboards, highways, and images of the “American dream”, and this one is a highway reference. To me, I can just imagine rushing down that highway at great speed when I view this picture. It has an exuberance and energy that dives into life.

montauk-highway

Montauk Highway 1958 Willem de Kooning Oil on canvas 59x48in

Artwork of the month

This month I’ll talk about an abstraction I made last year titled “Magenta meets yellow and orange”. This painting has a great sense of immediacy about it, yet the colours and their placement were carefully considered. I wanted to make a juxtaposition of the orange and magenta, yet allow the yellow to be a central theme. It’s almost like a collision of these colours, and this is the result! I knew the background could not be strongly present, taking a very subdued presence, and letting the vibrant magenta, yellow, and orange voice be heard. The painting needed a few extra marks of black to lift it from being a red focused energy, and so I used a couple of simple gestures to balance the hot energy. A few areas of blended colour were employed to break the large orange area in particular. I found this painting to be a lot of fun to make, and in a way it seemed to create itself, or at least had it’s own momentum. Things worked very easily, and I was very happy at completion…and still am! Hope you enjoy this as much as I do.

Artwork of the month “Pink and yellow melt”

Running a bit late this month with my regular “Artwork of the month” post. Lots of things happening that needed attending to.

But here it is…on the last day!…I’ll discuss my work “Pink and yellow melt”, which at the moment is part of an exhibition “Revolve” in Adelaide.

Pink and yellow

Pink and yellow melt 70cm x 90 cm $695

This painting was created by an inner need to express the idea of pink adjacent to yellow, and I had quite a struggle in it’s making.

The external appearance of simplicity is not the truth with this work…many layers of paint have been involved in its creation. Within the larger areas of colour there are more subtle tones of similar colour, which can only be seen on closer inspection.

My initial concept was to place two large long areas of yellow and pink against each other, and to maintain their individual vibrancy. I needed the two colours to be delineated yet not in too strict a fashion. To achieve this I used a darker contrasting blue-green hue, and allowed it to run down the side of the pink…this line was too strong so a lot of it was painted out, and this was satisfactory. Originally the pink and yellow both extended to the top border, but I felt this to be overwhelming, so I cut out the top sections with the lighter blue.

I encouraged a lot of runs and dribbles, and although this appears spontaneous, each has been carefully considered to create balance. The dribbling lines act as a kind of patterning, and beneath this the viewer can observe underlying layers. The manner in which these layers are placed invites the question of subject/background, revealed/concealed, and the runs act as points of interest to lead the eye around the painting.

Using large flat brushes to achieve bigger areas of colour I had to remain conscious of the strength of the reddish pink and stop it from shouting. I wanted to maintain the vibrant energy of the work, but made use of quieter pastel colours and white to find a balance.

The overall colour scheme could possibly be described as “feminine” but the method of paint application keeps it from becoming too sweet. The mood created is one of joy and happiness with the world, and hopefully the viewer can experience this while observing the piece.

Time wise, this work took a couple of weeks solid work to complete, and I was really satisfied with the result. I felt I had resolved all problems that were presented both in the concept and in within the painting process.