Large Brush Assignment

Last week for Painting III I finished my large brush assignment. The assignment was to paint with a brush larger than 2″ on a canvas/wood no bigger than 15″x15″ or 15″x18″. So I went to the hardware store and picked up a 4″ brush and a birch plywood that I cut a 15″x15″ panel out of. After I primed the piece of wood I was ready to begin. The assignment was pretty open and but it was suggested that it be something abstracted from life, a picture, or a collage.

I wanted to create a still life incorporating a vase of flowers but I didn’t want the flowers to be the center of my composition. I started drawing up some thumbnails to figure out how I wanted to abstract this vase of flowers. Originally the vase I was using was a cylinder which left me without an interesting composition. So I switched out the cylinder for a more organic oval looking vase. This gave me some interesting negative spaces that I could  play with. This was my first time working on a square format canvas and I really enjoyed it.


The composition ended up being a close-up abstracted view of a vase of flowers. I wanted it to be clear it was a vase of flowers but alsto to force my viewers to look further than the subject matter. Sometimes people can get stuck on the subject of your painting and not actually focus on your color decisions or composition; so if that’s what your goal is you have to give them a little push in that direction. For this project I was working with acrylics and a matte medium. Building up texture was easy with using such a large brush. I began playing with some contrasting colors such as yellow ocher, ultramarine blue, cadmium red, and light green hue, and used these combinations to create dimension that would push things backwards and pull things forward. It was nice using the larger brush to paint on a smaller panel because it was impossible to add unimportant details.


I didn’t allow my still life to influence my color decisions. Instead, the colors I choose began to dictate my next moves. Choosing a light source created a distance between the object and the background. Adding some light on the vase and some dark in the background on that same side gave the vase some dimension. It’s so amazing that we can take something we are looking at and turn it into something more interesting to explore. Almost like we are creating this new world for people to jump into for a second. In my Art in the Modern Era class we are discussing Henri Matisse and his ability to create amazing compositions of an abstracted reality. I am in love with the idea of creating something new by combining what I see and what I know.

“He must feel that he is copying nature-and even when he consciously departs from nature, he must do it with the conviction that it is only the better to interpret her.” —Henri Matisse

Sketchbook Drawing of the Week:


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