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The key thing is just to go for it

Tuesday Night Painting #30

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Frank Bowling, Regatta, 2017. Acrylic on collaged canvas, 58.27 x 73.31 inches

Hello painters,


Sort of a shorter newsletter today as I want to share with you some links and images to a couple of different artists, primarily two painters who walk the line, and sometimes tumble over into, the field of sculpture.

The first artist we'll talk about is Frank Bowling, an artist born in British Guiana, who was recently knighted by Queen Elizabeth during her birthday celebrations. The second artist I'll show you is Sam Gilliam, a painter who is soon celebrating his 87th birthday.

These two artists share a similar approach, with both making large canvases full of colors ebbing into each other. Both artists go very large with their canvases, with Gilliam's enormous draped works often filling enormous halls and museum galleries. Please click through the links at your convenience. I hope you enjoy these two.

Frank Bowling, Paul Hedge's Gift of Unraveling Silk, 2017.
Acrylic and mixed media on collaged canvas, 52.2 x 69.25 inches
Iona Miriam’s Christmas Visit To & From Brighton, 2017, Frank Bowling
To get a sense of who Frank Bowling is, where he is coming from, and where he is today, I recommend you read this excellent review of his 2018 exhibition in NYC by the critic Nicole Miller. Over the course of his long career, Bowling has approached painting from a variety of angles.

At times Bowling's work has depicted the human figure, other times his canvases are solely, purely pigment. He is well known for his paintings of maps stenciled on fields of color, inspired both by his birthplace, the British colony Guiana, and by the history of colonization worldwide.
Texas Louise, 1971
Acrylic on canvas, 111.1 x 261.75 in
Penumbra, 1970
acrylic and spray paint on canvas, 89.75 in x 276.3 in
Bowling's map paintings use the language of abstraction to tell a different story: part autobiography, part history lesson. These enormous canvases are flooded with acrylic paint, with continental outlines lightly spray painted on top to from subtle variations in the colors. Bowling was motivated to take abstract painting and inject it with his own personal and political concerns. You can see more and read (a tiny bit) more about these map paintings on the artists page at Alexander Gray gallery.
Frank Bowling continuously experimented and reinvented his approach to painting abstractly throughout his career. Pouring, scraping, flicking, drizzling: if you can think of a verb there is a good chance that Bowling has done it with acrylic to his canvases. But photographs alone cannot convey the full range of experiences you can receive from looking at a Bowling canvas up close and in person. The artist adds glitter, chalk dust, postcards, pages from his journal, seashells, and other objects to his paintings to give them an extra texture and dimension. I suggest you check out this video produced by the Tate Museum to learn some of the secrets behind painting like Frank Bowling.
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For the second half, I want to share with you the work of Sam Gilliam. I think you'll find some parallels between the working methods of both artists, with Gilliam making use of large, flowing gestures in his paintings. Sam Gilliam, along with other Washington, DC based "color field" artists like Kenneth Noland, Anne Truitt, and Morris Louis, defined themselves in opposition to the energetic and at times aggressive abstract expressionists of NYC.

Whereas the AbEx painters of New York had a distinct style centered around the active paint flinging of Pollock and the brash style of de Kooning, the color field painters of DC were focused on a slower paced, more meditative approach to painting.
Gilliam's most well known innovation is very distinct. The artist is known for working on massive unstretched canvases, stained and then draped across the wall or hanging in space. The resulting effect is an undulating sheet of color unfurling and rewrapping itself throughout the room. As the viewer, it's impossible to see the painting in its entirety, since you discover new angles and new perspectives as you walk along the canvas's length. 
Gilliam says his inspiration for these draped paintings came at least partially from witnessing women hanging laundry on clotheslines, observed through the window of his DC studio. Like Bowling, Gilliam has always been interested in expanding on the possibilities available to him as a painter. Not content with moving along with whatever the current trend was, Gilliam was intentional in seeking a new approach to painting and abstraction.
I'll direct you to this article about Gilliam's work in ArtNet by the writer Ben Davis. You can learn more about Gilliam's background and inspirations, along with some insight into how to approach the work. The Dia:Beacon museum has also recently installed a permanent exhibition of Gilliam's work in their expansive galleries.
And here is your weekly reminder that this newsletter is free but not cheapI've been spending more and more hours each week researching and writing about new artists for me and you to lovingly gaze at.
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That'll do it for this week, painters.

For tunes this week I want to recommend the album "Atlantic Oscillations" by Quantic. Here are YouTube links to a couple tracks off that album: 


Quantic - Atlantic Oscillations
Quantic - Divergence
Quantic - Now or Never (ft. Alice Russell)

See you next time, and happy painting.
( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
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