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Form and Content


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A look at my work since 2009 in terms of the inter-relationship of Form and Content.

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Form and Content

  1. 1. Thoughts about Form and Content<br />Paintings 2009-2011<br />Rebecca Crowell<br />
  2. 2. Form and Content<br />The materials, composition,, techniques and style of a painting are known as its form. The ideas behind the painting, its meaning and intentions are the content . <br />Ideally, form and content in any work of art relate strongly to one another with each enhancing the other. <br />I have long been interested in how form and content function in my work. <br />In this presentation I take a look at my work from the past two years with these concepts in mind. <br />
  3. 3. It seems to me that both the success of a painting, and the satisfaction derived from painting it, arise from a good alignment of form/technique/style and content/meaning/source of ideas. When these are in synch, there is creative flow to what the hand creates and the mind imagines and remembers. <br />
  4. 4. 2009<br />
  5. 5. Catalonia <br />I was an artist in residence in a remote Catalan village (in the Pyrenees) during September of 2008, and memories of that experience continued to influence my work throughout 2009 and beyond. <br />
  6. 6. Stone buildings, weathered surfaces, and the mountain light all influenced my paintings both while I was in Catalonia and in the months after returning home. <br />
  7. 7. Works on paper, mixed media<br />My project while in Catalonia was to work in water based mixed media in response to the landscape and surroundings. I continued to use the form of mixed media on paper to some extent during 2009. <br />
  8. 8. Some of the techniques that I developed while working on paper, such as linear scratching and drawing, found their way into oil and wax paintings that I did during 2009. The content or source of scratched surfaces came from the rugged landscape of Cataloniaand also from the drawing I did while hiking around the area. <br />
  9. 9. Oil paintings <br />Most of the work I did in 2009 was oil and wax on panel, and the images and ideas that began in Catalonia on paper provided a very rich source of inspiration for months. <br />
  10. 10. There were many aspects of the landscape, and the ancient buildings, that influenced my imagery and ideas—especially the old, crumbling and eroded walls. When I worked with the idea of eroded old walls using layers of cold wax medium, the merging of form and content seemed especially strong. <br />
  11. 11. Starting during my residency in Catalonia, and continuing to the present time, I have done many white paintings. They began in response to the quiet and solitude of my residency, as well as to the arid environment of the region. But as I continued to work with white, it took on various other meanings. Sometimes the idea of the white has to do with winter, as in this painting, Winter Garden.<br />
  12. 12. Using white often comes out of simple visual enjoyment of the contrast between light areas and dark or colored areas, so that in this case, the form of the painting directs the content. It becomes “about” contrast and the interplay of light and dark, or the white reminds me of something in nature—but the form leads to the idea. <br />
  13. 13. For most of 2009, though, my 2008 experience in Catalonia exerted direct influence on the content of my images. The rough, organic textures of the mountain village, and the colors of September in that area, as the trees and fields faded into gold, were almost always on my mind when I was working. <br />
  14. 14. 2010<br />
  15. 15. Teaching <br />Though my time in Catalonia continued to influence the content and form of my work, a new influence on form became strong during 2010. I taught about a dozen workshops in the use of cold wax medium with oils,. This emphasis on technique had an effect on the focus of my work. <br />
  16. 16. 2010 was a year of experimentation in form.<br />
  17. 17. New Techiques<br />These include playing with spatial divisions and developing ways to selectively remove areas of paint/wax. <br />
  18. 18. Although I continued to do many paintings as multiple panels, a form that I developed a number of years ago to add contrast and structure to organic imagery…<br />
  19. 19. I also began to use what I think of as an “evolved line” to create divisions within single panels. I call these divisions “evolved” because they grow out of overlapping color fields, as I build up the texture and color layers on the panel. <br />
  20. 20. Perhaps this impulse goes back to my mixed medawork on paper from 2008 and 2009, since with in work created divisions within the picture plane. <br />
  21. 21. In addition to these simple divisions I began to experiment with the form of tilted lines and scratched through divisions. The content of most of these pieces continues to relate to landscape but in a less specific way than during my Catalonia period. <br />
  22. 22. Making reductive lines and forms in the wax/ paint surface by brushing or dripping solvent was a technique I focused on in 2010. Again there is a strong correlation between form and content, for the meaning of these paintings seems to come from the mystery of what lies beneath the surface. <br />
  23. 23. Graphic marks created by using the solvent/squeegee technique are often augmented with scratching and drawing lines. These active surfaces seem to me to be about traces of memories, notes, ephemeral marks left behind by people over time. <br />
  24. 24. Continuing ideas<br />Besides experimenting with new forms as a result of pushing myself in technical areas, I also continued some of the same themes from 2009, such as exploring white surfaces. <br />
  25. 25. . Both of these paintings have to do with aged, weathered surfaces. <br />
  26. 26. Lanzarote<br />2010 Included a trip to the Canary Island of Lanzarote, a rugged, volcanic landscape that inspired, and continues to inspire, paintings with rugged textures and strong contrast.<br />
  27. 27. I have become convinced of the value of travel, especially to ancient and rugged landscapes for leading to new ideas in my work, both in form and content. <br />
  28. 28. This painting and the two previous ones have volcanic sand brought back from Lanzarote embedded in the wax on the surface. <br />
  29. 29. 2011<br />
  30. 30. Continuing ideas<br />I am feeling the exhilarating sense of possibility, expanding on ideas from he past two years in both technique and content. <br />
  31. 31. I continue to be inspired by the rough textures of Lanzarote. <br />
  32. 32. And also by the form of the zoco, the semi-circular retaining walls that protect grape vines and other plants there from the harsh winds that would blow away precious topsoil. The arc shape has appeared in many guises in my work over the years. <br />
  33. 33. Small (12”x12”) paintings that began as teaching demos continue to pull me in the direction of experiments with technique, which suggest content in turn. Is painting reminds me of stones on the beach on Lanzarote. <br />
  34. 34. I continue to teach which pushes me in the direction of experimenting with materials for new textures and surface treatments. <br />
  35. 35. Final thoughts<br />I like the idea of a back and forth cycle between technique/form and meaning/content. Each enhances and pushes the other forward., producing a magical and creative energy in the work. <br />