Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Tate Modern O'Keeffe Art Course Part I

As an end of term summer treat I booked myself onto an evening art course at the Tate Modern. It is ran by Sheila Wallis (who ran the Marlene Dumas art course in 2015) who is encouraging us to be inspired by O'Keeffe's approach to art. Nature, Image, Abstraction, Looking through O'Keeffe.

The course started last Monday with a visit to the Georgia O'Keeffe exhibition. We were given a clipboard and pencils and had 40 minutes to capture our favourite O'Keeffe work using monochrome. Initially I found this task quite difficult as O'Keeffe is famous for her beautiful sense of colour.

I was taken with this abstract piece based on the view of Lake George.

Georgia O'Keeffe, 1924, Onto the Lake #1
Here is my 40-minute monochrome interpretation using pencil, felt-tip and graphite.

Last night on the second class of the course we were asked to create three different abstracted compositions (portrait, landscape and square) based upon the work we had produced in the previous week. Again, only in monochrome. We were given five minutes for each composition. I sketched mine out quickly and finished them this morning.

I used black watercolour for the landscape composition focussing on the bold contrast between black and white. The portrait composition was a quick study using pencil and graphite and the final square composition is a a mixed media piece using marker pen, felt-tip, graphite and water.

Before launching into painting we had a fun warm-up activity where we listened to a piece of music and were asked to respond. I have done this before and really enjoyed the flowing mark-making outcomes. You create marks and shapes you wouldn't necessarily make without the music guiding your hand! It's a very free-ing activity.

The warm-up exercise: A mark-making  response to music (the theme tune to Tomorrow's World)
During the rest of the evening we produced observational paintings based on plants and flowers. I selected this striking green flower below (I think it is a chrysanthemum?):

Below are my 30 minute and 10 minute studies using watercolour and then acrylic paints:

30 minute study using watercolour paints with an overlay of acrylic
10 minute study using acrylic paint

5 minute abstracted study using the curves of the petals to inspire the flow of the lines


  1. Amazing to get so much done in a relatively short space of time! Love the 3 abstracted sketches in the boxes!

    1. Hi Nao, yes I really liked the abstracted compositions too. It was a great little exercise to consider the structure and movement of your composition.

  2. Some lovely pieces here, an impressive number for just a couple of classes! The colours and lines of the last piece are really quite striking.

    1. Thanks Alex. Yes, I seem to have made a decent volume of artwork so far. It's a lot of fun to do!