Art 3 – Abstract figure painting – Due 11/18


Visit the site of local artist Claire Thorson and look at her images of figures, first the drawings then the paintings.  Note how abstract and stylized her paintings are.

Next, do an internet search for images of “diebenkorn figure drawings” and “diebenkorn figure paintings”

Read the following articles on Richard Diebenkorn and notice especially how the figurative work corresponds to his more abstract work. In your comments, offer 3 points that you find especially interesting and relevant to your figurative work and the upcoming figure painting.

NOW, look at some of the influences on Diebenkorn that were mentioned and other figurative artists you admire and post a link.


6 responses »

  1. It is interesting to see Diebenkorn’s development as a painter and his evolution between the more abstract and the more realistic. It is also interesting to learn about the influence that his surroundings had on his work; the style and feel of his paintings often changed depending on what city he lived in. Additionally, as the second article points out, Diebenkorn’s compositions portray the importance of line work in figurative painting and drawing. I agree with the third article that the figures in Dievenkorn’s paintings often appear somewhat isolated. Perhaps it is a result of the color choice, the use of the medium, and above all, the fact that many of his models are either slightly slumped or are turned away (and few are looking directly at the viewer/many to their faces are indistinct). I am not familiar with many figure painters but after searching online I found that I like many of Helena Wierzbicki’s compositions along with her use of color.

    • Whenever I am in Berkeley or Santa Barbara, I can sense some of the kinds of color combinations he used to capture the light. (Not that I can identify the location from the painting by the light but it definitely is a California light.) That’s one of the things that I enjoy about art is that it returns you to the world more enriched and life is more vibrant having looked at it through the artist’s lens. You may try to use some of the vibrant color combinations in your work as those used by Wierzbicki. I especially like the contrasting blue lines against the warm oranges.

  2. I am really intrigued by the way surroundings influenced Diebenkorn’s work. Such as the shift from the quiet and meditative works in New York to the brighter and more abstract work in Berkeley. I am particularly drawn to his dynamic use and combination of colors. In his figure paintings, he exemplifies this by bring personality and dimension to the figures and faces by overlaying and mixed all sorts of colors. From this week’s new project were I needed to draw my classmate, I was able to see the difficulty in capturing the essences of the model. With this, I am able to better appreciate Diebenkorn’s loose and whimsical lines.

    I have found the works of Rachael Beard really fascinating as well, especially “Astoria” ( I like that I can see a figures, but it is not spelled out for us. I also like her use of colors: warm tones around the nude figure, but cooler tones as you look outward.

    • I agree. Diebenkorn makes his work look so easy but it is eally quite difficult to achieve that spontaneous looking essence of the model. Your link shows a more moody color scheme which shows how colors carry the content as much as the composition and brushstroke.

  3. It’s interesting how he applies ideas gleaned from a variety of sources directly to his work, such as Clyfford Still and Clement Greenberg, and mostly important–the abstract expressionism. Although his artworks are so modern, he kept telling people how “old-fashioned” he was and all he wanted to do was to follow a tradition and then extent it. Which he actually did–after absorbing the elements from the abstract expressionism, he had developed his own style of look, gestural human figure paintings, and those work did have a huge impact on the later abstract expressionism movement. I also find it’s interesting that he’s constantly influenced by his surroundings. He said: ” All paintings start out of a mood, out of a relationship with things or people, out of a complete visual impression.” It makes sense now–his inspirations came from his observations and interactions with his surroundings. Diebenkorn achieved a rare feat in the life of an artist, which is to approach painting from many different angles and to take earnest inspiration from other artists while maintaining originality. I think this is something relevant to me, because I’m still in a stage of learning from various artists to develop and pursue my own style. It’s important to extract the awesomeness from other artworks and not ending up with plagiarism.

    When I thought about “figurative artists”, Xiang Jing was the first one appeared in my mind.
    I think she really made the sculptures alive.

    • Your point about the mood and visual impression of a scene is so important. It is a reminder to be connected with the world rather than an absent participant, absorbed by attention to technological devices. And the idea that he wanted to be connected to tradition shows how important art history was to him. You see a lot of Matisse influences in his work and Matisse in turn, was building on those before him.

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