Another Painting Class: Painting #10

In January/February 2021 I took an online painting class at Woodmere Art Museum in Philadelphia, PA. The class was called BLENDING ABSTRACTION AND REPRESENTATION, and over six sessions our class explored the continuum between these two endpoints of a line.

The class was structured so that we worked on our individual artworks in our home studios while participating in discussions and vewing demonstrations by the teacher. I did quite a bit of work and I’ll be showing them to you over a few posts.

Thanks to my instructor, Lesa Chittenden Lim, and my classmates, for a good experience.

Here’s a painting I did. It’s called “Reading in the Living Room”, and it is 20″ x 16″, done in acrylics on canvas. It’s a picture me doing something I like very much – sitting on my sofa and reading a good book.

This painting was done for the assignment for the last class of the series. The idea was to take the spectrum of abstractionism that we have been considering in class – from very realistic to totally non-representational – and to make a painting or artwork showing where we are on this line at the moment.

And …to consider some questions. Is our work where we want to be on this spectrum? What changes have been made in our art practice? Where do we want to go?

For me, this painting is the spot on the continuum where I am most comfortable. There are clear “reality-based” elements in this painting. But I have not made a “realistic” painting.

The class has made me think very hard about what it is I want to be doing with my artwork.

  1. Make no art piece that is hasty, shallow in conception, or boring. Or just pretty. Or because someone thought it would be a nice idea to paint (fill in the blank).
  2. Make art that is personal to me – expresses a feeling, memory, incident, theme, etc., that means something to me. Know what that meaning is at all stages of the painting (understanding that it could change, too, as I go along).
  3. Take in as much teaching or information from others as I can. Keep what I find useful, discard the rest – no guilt or second-guessing.
  4. Tell a story. There is always a story in the way I see things in life. Even rocks and trees and stoves and car tires are personalities to me. It’s all stories.
  5. Know who you are and stick with it.

That’s where I am right now. Here’s the painting again. I’m really happy with this image. I enjoyed making it, I like the look of it, and it is a visble representation of feelings and an activity that matters to me.

23 thoughts on “Another Painting Class: Painting #10

  1. Claudia McGill Post author

    Thank you. I hope that going forward I can hold on to what I said in the post, it is easy to let outside influences overwhelm you. I figure I’m old enough now for it not to matter so I’d better get on with doing things that I want to do. As for the painting, this is a portrait of me, how I feel at the end of the day when I can take the evening and relax, often with a book.

  2. Nancy Bell Scott

    I really like your list, Claudia. First of all, it’s a good idea to make one (I intend to do the same, thanks to your inspiration), and second, what you express shows a lot of open self-knowledge. Great ending, too. And … I love the painting!

  3. Claudia McGill Post author

    Thank you. I realize I have spent most of my life doing what others needed or wanted me to do, and that is fine, such as your child, your employer, and so on. But you get into the habit of putting other people’s opinions first. The pandemic has taught me it is time to stop doing all of this – I don’t have many repsonsibilities now compared to the past, why do I fence myself in? I asked myself. The answer was, I just kept plodding in my same old rut. I am finding it a challenge to keep the list in mind, as I fall back into thinking, who will want this painting, I’d better do something more productive, bla bla. Then I smack myself in the forehead and say, STOP! and try to remind myself once again…it’s up to me now. A nice feeling.

  4. deborahbrasket

    I love your painting, so colorful and so restful at the same time. Like the act of reading it seems. I also love your list of what you want your painting to be or do. The idea of telling a story in painting isn’t something I’ve considered before but I like the idea of it. Something to play with when I return to painting again.

  5. Sarah Sullivan

    Claudia, both your painting, which so captures the feeling of reading in a comfortable place, and your list are inspiring. Just as your legs fill the couch, so does the act of reading fill the room. Wonderful post, thank you!

  6. memadtwo

    You are very perceptive about the fact that you always tell stories. Even the shortest of your poems tell stories. And yes! Everything is alive.

  7. Claudia McGill Post author

    It is now my challenge to remind myself of what I want to be doing rather than trying to figure out what others are looking for. In art and in life.

  8. Claudia McGill Post author

    Thank you, I have been an avid reader since the day in first grade when I understood what we were trying to do with this aphabet thing turning into words. I remember I learned from there almost instantaneously how to read almost anything, sort of like the words were all there waiting for me to turn the key and ask them in. I still read a lot and turn to a book for every life situation, but my favorite thing is to be on the sofa reading at home.

  9. Claudia McGill Post author

    I realized that in every aspect of my life I make ethings into a story. I’m not an abstract thinker and theories and ideas don’t interest me, but I am super nosy about everything going on around me,always have been (people who come into my orbit, you have been warned!). Even my pots and pans take on a life for me and it was only in recent years that I have realized that not everyone sees things this way (explains a lot of the looks I have gotten over a lifetime of explaining things that are animate to me and … no one else!?) I feel a nice sense of freedom about this now.

  10. Laura (PA Pict)

    Fabulous work. I like the way those red vertical lines at the top of the composition hit into all of the long vertical lines because that contrast really emphasizes the idea of lounging and relaxing. I also really enjoy the red and turquoise filtered throughout this painting to lead the eye around.

    I really like your objectives for making art. They all seem eminently achievable.

  11. deborahbrasket

    That’s so interesting. I’ve had the same feeling at times, not about animate things that no one else sees, but at a way of looking at the world that others don’t share. And being so surprised they don’t because it feels so elemental to me. Like you, I’ve become more comfortable with that disparity over the years.

  12. Claudia McGill Post author

    Thank you. I painted the whole background of the picture red before I started, which was odd because I am not that fond of red, but for some reason I did this, and then I painted into the red. I think turquoise looks good with red so that is why it appears so much. I am happy with this painting and I think it is a tangible example and reminder of what I want to be doing, art-wise.

  13. galeriaredelius

    Ah, the way she (you) stretches out her legs across the whole sofa, I love that! It looks comfortable, relaxing and a clear signal of “me-time”.
    That list is inspiring too. Such a good question to ask oneself (and easy to forget). Hmm, you got me thinking there…

  14. Claudia McGill Post author

    Thank you, I love my sofa time at the end of the day, when tasks are done and I am ready for a rest. A book has always been my companion wherever I go, since I learned to read, and I’ll read just about anything, I just like…reading!

  15. marissthequilter

    I feel I should make a profound comment to match my reaction to the painting, but I can’t catch the words. It makes me want to lie down on my sofa and read my book! Your manifesto, so clearly stated in writing, shines through in the painting.

  16. Claudia McGill Post author

    Thank you, this makes my day. I hope so much that people will feel as you did, that they will see my work and in some way feel how it connects to some thought or emotion or activity they know in their own lives. And, though I don’t want to avoid hard topics, at this stage of my life, I want to focus my art on revealing happier things, no matter how little they are. Books have been my best friends all my life and never let me down as far as comfort, entertainment, and companionship. So I feel happy how this painting turned out, I think it fits how I feel. Thank you.

  17. Pingback: Another Painting Class, Session 2: Painting 6 | Claudia McGill and Her Art World

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