ART 1 – Ellsworth Kelly – 9/18


1. Look at the following 2 articles on Ellsworth Kelly and the interview with him in the video.

2. Comment on the 3 most important pieces of advice for you as an artist.

3. And, comment on  how his seemingly simple works actually reflect his sensitivity to form and how they are connected to emotion or expression.

In your sketchbook, do an hour of contour drawings of individual objects (as we will do in class) or do a contour drawing of your kitchen, backyard, or a closet.  You may use several pages for this or work in smaller frames on the page (so you can think about composition as Kelly does).


30 responses »

  1. The three most important pieces of advice are:
    1.Every line has to mean something different
    2. Up close the picture has to have a meaing and a different meanig when far away
    3. Color matters you have to mix it up and mix up shapes and sizes

    He draws things that are so simple because then it makes people think about the meanig. Everyone will have a different meaning in every drawing. If it was complex most people would find the same meaning but simple makes it harder.

  2. Advice?
    1. viewing ‘a drawing’ up close responds emotionally different than viewing it from a distance, meaning a different emotional response is possible
    2. viewing and drawing something literally, ‘realistic’, can influence a new idea for creative expression, even a sculptural interpretation
    3. it starts simply with the essence of the shape/form, the options for layers of additional response increase
    Through out his lifetime, his interpretations of the time period/culture he lived in evoked emotional responses related to his skill level as well as choice of mediums. He moved from skillful plant observational drawing to abstractions of these on paper including collage, cut paper, canvas shapes one on top of the other; black and white (which he said were his reactions to even the most recent war in Iraq) to color shapes/forms without any tonal shading….simplicity, minimal; scale proportional changes from small shapes to the same shape larger which totally changed the emotional impact and expression; finally evolving into 3-D sculptures. In one interview he commented that he “has” to keep his hand in practice by returning to drawing whether it be plant shapes or abstracts….very good advice. His example was that of a musician who can ‘forget’ movements and have muscles loose their memories. wonderful!

  3. As an artist, I believe that it is important to take your time,never be too serious and to really think about what you are drawing. When I take time and don’t rush an art piece it becomes more detailed and I enjoy the process more. If I am too serious when I am drawing then I lack creativity and expression. For me my art comes out looking better if I take time to think about it before I start the process and not get ahead of myself. Ellsworth kelly’s work is so great because he has a story about everything he draws and he cares about every line.

  4. As an artist my top three peaces of advice for myself are
    1) Keep an open mind, don’t give up on a project.
    2) I agree with Sushi in that it is important not to take your work to seriously. If you do art becomes a chore, and because you don’t enjoy it, it will get incrementally worse.
    3) Be creative. The most flamboyant and silly ideas make the best art!

    Simple art conveys meaning in a more compact package. Many people think simple art is somehow less meaningful than more complicated art. I don’t agree. As Little C said, you have to think about the meaning when a drawing is more simple, and because you have to think about it, it becomes more profound.

  5. The conclusions that I’ve drawn from this are:
    1) As an artist it is important to draw things that are important to you, rather than other people. I believe that the poppy shows this idea.
    2) I also agree with Frodude and Sushi; it’s important that one enjoys themselves as they draw.
    3) The third idea I believe that Kelly was trying to convey was the idea that it was more important to show the form of an object rather than make it look realistic. I think this is because people want to see things they haven’t seen before. All art from, books to poetry is about taking the consumer to another place.

    Kelly doesn’t want the true form of an image marred by uneccesary lines or layering. It may refer to his experience with people. He doesn’t like people who are over-the-top or try to hard with fancy clothing etc. Kelly likes to see the true form of a person.

  6. 1) it is important to become attached to your piece but not too attached.
    2) the art needs to mean something up close and something different from a far
    3) as sushi, frodude and forehead wrinkle said, it is important you enjoy yourself while making the art.

    his simplicity and form convey how simple yet complicated this society is. the simplicity of the images depicts how simply society really is. yet they are captivating and force you to take another look as your brain tries to find something more complex in the image.

  7. Advices to me :

    1. You shouldn’t get way too attached to your work, because once you do, you don’t let the lines you’re drawing express the way they should~
    2. Draw things that are important / interesting to you, not to others, and you will draw them better (because you can connect with him better)
    3. COlours, shapes, and sizes matter in expressing emotions in art.

    The simplicity in his painting reflect his connection with the inner workings of the social life..and it and it also shows his desire for the world to be less complicated, easier to understand, and more useable for everyone..

  8. 1. I think that every line means something different
    2.I also think that it is important not to take your work to seriously. If you dont do art because you want to, then you shouldn’t do it because it affects the art when it doesn’t matter to the artist.
    3.People also like seeing things that the havent seen before, for example if it is a picture of a kitchen or closet, then it is something new to look at.

    When he is so simple with his art I think that there can be many feelings and emotion in it. Even though there isin’t that much detail it is still clear to me that he put lots of work into his art!

  9. Advice:
    1. It is important to be creative in art, be different with bulk.
    2. art is made up through life, to take your work by interests. there is a story behind each drawing.
    3. be critical to myself, because every line means different things and they are never as good as natural.

    When he is working on simple art, I think that gives him a higher goal on each line. Because there is more meaning that converge into less line. As Little C said, it makes people easier to get different meanings from his drawing.

  10. Three things that I find very important in art are:
    1) Be creative.
    2) Stop drawing when you get bored, drawing is supposed to fun and not feel like a drag.
    3)Always encourage constructive criticism. You’re going to get better if you learn from your mistakes

    “My drawings are kind of notations,” Kelly says, “I only want the line.” His simplicity, his genius to capture nature in such a way that his drawings have the feel of being real. His “self-imposed challenge” to capture natures complexity into simple abstractions. Rather than just captureing a plant he captures a part of himself.

  11. 1. One piece of art can have many different meanings. Don’t try to tell people what your artwork means or represents because it is likely that someone sees it differently.
    2. Art is about the artist, not the people who will be looking at it. If you draw for yourself and for your enjoyment, it is more likely to be beautiful in your eyes. That enthusiasm might even make people like it more.
    3. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake. Just because you didn’t mean for it to happen doesn’t make it bad!

    Simple things are more versatile. They can be interpreted in any number of different ways, which makes them appeal to a much larger number of people. Even if you draw it to mean one thing, someone can see it another way and it can connect to them in a way you never anticipated. I think Kelly understands that is what makes art great: it’s both about the individual and the people as a whole at the same time!

  12. The three most important things to remember as an artist are as follows
    1) Don’t feel self-conscious about your art
    2) Don’t overthink what you are going to do, and let your creativity flow
    3) Always be looking for inspiration everywhere. For all you know it could be in a ditch on the side of the road

    Kelly is so ingenius because he follows all of these, do I dare say, rules. He lets his lines flow and be free. He keeps his drawings simple and creates emotion from the shape of the line. Kelly creates depth by overlapping. His drawing can be interpreted in different ways because of his free and simple style.

  13. I think Kelly’s most important advice is :
    1. Every line counts towards what the drawing makes you feel, so make sure that each one has a meaning
    2. Color can change everything about a piece, use it wisely
    3. A piece might make you feel something up close, and it needs to make you feel something else from far away, it needs to have both

    I think Kelly ties emotion into his work by giving each piece a story. Every single painting has a meaning, and the colors you use, the softness or hardness of the lines, the curvature and layering of each object, all of it makes you feel something. For instance if you used darker colors, harsh lines, and lots of overlapping you might induce an angry mood, or if you used light colors, soft lines, gentle curves and not so many overlapping shapes you might make a happier piece. So even with only a few elements to each piece you can create an emotionally rich piece. And I think this is what Kelly realized, and that this concept shaped a lot of his work.

  14. 1. Don’t let it be a chore, you can’t force art.
    2. See if you can work with a mistake before you erase it.
    3. It can be an outlet for emotion, but it doesn’t need to be.

    While Mr. Kelly may be sensitive to form, he doesn’t always portray it in a strictly accurate manner. I don’t think he was necessarily expressing himself or revealing emotion every time he drew. He was capturing a moment in time, a memory, and tying it to the drawing. We may not be privy to the memories, but we can see the drawings and through them the plants he looked at and drew with as few lines as possible. I don’t tie memories to drawings, but I do tie them to sound or scent. For example, if I smell over-ripe plums, a certain memory floats to the surface. I’m at a summer camp, a sort of farm/garden affair. And I’m standing under a plum tree, next to the chicken coop. I even remember what I was wearing. We all do this, consciously or not.

  15. 1. The 3 most important ideas i took from this artist were that theres beauty in simplicity, that you can find art before you create it, and that all art is is a process of building within an idea. That within beauty there is a simple structure that can be easily found if observed correctly.
    2. Kelly’s seemingly simple work is actually the farthest thing from, i think. The lines expose a part of the object that is rarely seen and this shows his personal view of the world. The shapes, when the bends and curves don’t exist, make the objects more simple, raw, and natural.

  16. 1. Don’t think before drawing, think as you draw.
    2. Lines can be used on top of each other.
    3. Make drawings look good both up close and far away. Think of a drawing as having many dimensions.

    The simplicity of Kelly’s drawing is the thing that creates the art. The form and space, both empty and comprised mainly of lines in a physical sense, show emotion. While the drawings aren’t technically shaded, the white emptiness itself gives it a surreal effect, almost like staring at a blank wall and thousands of cans of paint wondering what you should paint it. The simplicity in his drawings is what makes them what they are.

  17. 1) Only create art that you want to, or try to find something positive in everything you have to make.
    2) Try to not over-think your projects and keep an open mind about mistakes.
    3) Not all art has to be something “deep,” but rather just something you want to make.
    I think Ellsworth Kelly’s drawings are seemingly simple because he wants the viewer to maybe create their own memory or association with the object so it his art could appeal to more people.

  18. 1) Being attached to what you are doing is very important
    2) Do not give up on a project ( I feel this is very important for me because sometimes when things get difficult I want to give up really badly, but I know I can’t)
    3) Something up close has to have as much meaning as it does when looked at from a distance

    Well I think the fact that his drawings are much simpler that most shows his love not only for drawing but for the actual understanding of art. Having the drawings be mere lines makes the onlooker have to actually think about the piece. They cant just look and say yes that is an extremely detailed leaf there, they must actually think about what is trying to be said in the few lines that appear on the page.

  19. Advice:
    1.drawing a picture is a period that you enjoy doing it and you lose yourself in it. Therefore, you will be really happy while drawing.
    2. every painting you draw must be put meanings in it. although maybe others will have different understandings, you must have your own sense. So that is enough.
    3. Be careful about every lines you draw. Every line have its own purport.

    When he works on his drawing, he must be very careful. He will treat every line important and will put his own meaning on it. He is amazing that he can make a very complex object to be a easy one. and although it is easy, you also can feel some deep meaning inside. The easiest drawing maybe is the hardest.

  20. 1) Every line and object means something different then the last and all lines in the picture.
    2) The picture differs when you are different lengths away from it.
    3) Colors matter especially when you mix them together.
    His work is so great and I really enjoyed it even though it is very simple. I like how he uses so many different kinds of colors and shape in different ways. If you like to draw or sketch difficult things it might be hard for you to enjoy such simple pieces of artwork.

  21. 1. Simplicity can be better than complexity
    2. Like what you’re drawing
    3. Every line is important

    Since every line is important to him, there don’t have to be very many lines in the picture to make it very thoughtful and significant. Detailed drawings are more like pictures and pictures have less artistic expression. If it’s very simple, he can incorporate deeper meaning.

  22. Three pieces of advice I have picked up from this are:
    1) when making your art don’t feel self-consciousness about it
    2) Use art as a way to express emotion
    3) Don’t think before you draw, think while you are drawing
    Kelly likes to keep his art simple because he thinks that people in life go way over the top with how they dress and act in public. He is also able to give every piece of work he does a different message to it, even in his very simple style. The fact that his drawings are so simple but can bring out all of his emotions is shown best when he is able to use colors to depict mood, like in his picture of the pile of apples. It is a very simple drawing of apples but the colors add the very upbeat, or happy emotion to the drawing.

  23. What I took as good advice for an artist, is 1: not to think about the purpose of your drawing until you have gotten started, just let your emotions guide the pencil, 2: your art should be just as meaningful up close as from far away, and 3: be engaged in every bit of your drawing

    Kelly’s “simple” works are most likely even more emotionally complex than more detailed artwork, because all he puts into them are the raw emotions and expression, he doesn’t take the time to add details. The simplicity also might cause the viewer to feel more, because they can add their own details to the work.

  24. I think Kelly has great advice as an artist. He acknowledges the difficulties in creating art but he said that we should all start out small with one stroke at a time. Also, artists should strive to make their art look and feel different when looked at from different angles. Something that Kelly says implicitly is art can be anything including some pieces that may seem simple like Kelly’s.

    Kelly’s artwork may not seem to have much form, but he tries to draw in as few lines as possible while still showing the general object. He also wants things to appear natural and abstract but simple.

  25. 1) A viewing of the art up close can draw out a different emotional reaction than viewing from a distance, so you really can get multiple things out of a work of art. It’s like looking at a city-scape as opposed to reading the life story of an individual who lives in the cityscape.
    2) Like what you’re drawing. Don’t be self conscious. Depict what you mean to depict and if it doesn’t come out the way you envision it in your head you’ve still created something. Think about how much this man did in 4 strokes with a smile on his face as opposed to the eraser-scarred 9X12 of a frustrated college student.
    3) Each line has its own purpose. Each will bring about a different feeling, connotation, and perspective.

    His seemingly simple works really depict more light and carefree emotion than his more intricate works. To put it bluntly, his more detailed works are on the side of a pretty picture while we actually see him in his more minimal pieces of art. A nice minimalist stick with leaves doesn’t convey the man I saw in the interviews as much as an apple made in 2 strokes that just looks happy. Often times form and simple beauty can be lost in details that we feel should be there, as opposed to just letting it be and knowing when to stop. Once again, he goes for the minimal, which instead of being a skeleton of an image is something full and luscious on its own.

  26. Elsworth tells us that every line has meaning, you just start with one stroke at a time. He says that you can get a different emotional reaction when viewing pieces from different perspectives. We shouldn’t feel self-conscious about our art. Elsworth’s minimilist style reflects the raw essence of an object, conveying in just a few lines a specific idea or emotion.

  27. 1. Art should have a different effect depending on the perspective that it is looked at (think the Mona Lisa and her “smile”)
    2. Draw instinctively: do not over think a work, let it come naturally
    3. Let everything done in a piece have a purpose, no needless lines or messy sketch marks, unless they serve a purpose.

    Kelly’s works especially emphasize that last point. His art is minimalist, but it stays strong because it lacks needless attachments.

  28. I think that the main three things that I took away from the video was to not worry so much about what exactly I was going to put on the page, to kind of find the work when it was happening in order to realize what I was actually doing. Second, try to make every stroke have real meaning, to not waste strokes to fill up space or make color, or just to finish, and to have a consistant piece, and not start strong and finish terribly.

  29. Things to take away from Edward Kelly:
    1. try to do some drawings as fast and as simply as possible to get the essential idea
    2. things don’t have to be complex to be meaningful
    3. art doesn’t have to be super serious–don’t stress over the outcome of a piece too much

    Kelly’s minimalistic work allows for many varied interpretations. Also, every line in his work counts.

  30. The most important pieces of advice I got out of it were:
    1. To not be scared of just making that first mark
    2. To not overthink the process of creating, it should be natural
    3. That a piece doesn’t have to appear extremely intricate to hold lot’s of meaning

    His artwork, although usually very simple, like contours and shapes, has a lot of emotion because of the memories and thoughts he had while he made them. I think it’s a personal type of feeling though because obviously not everyone can see and connect with his artwork the same way

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