Thursday, November 01, 2007

120 Colors

This color pencil piece, “120 Colors” requires a lot more explanation than most of my works. I’ve divided this post up into parts to help keep my thoughts together:

colored pencil on paper, 21" x 26.5"

Seven years ago an instructor at a workshop suggested to me that I combine some of processes into one piece. Some folks have given me grief about working in all these styles. Unfortunately for me I go through reactionary phases. I swing from one direction to another one. My fellow artists have told me in recent years they recognize what a I do no matter what I do. Yesterday was a deadline for delivering artwork for a weekend art show. Well, I didn’t want to do dots this time. The new paintings appear on my blog art at random.

So what exactly did I combine in this piece? Well, since I’m posting this artwork here, you know there are dots in it. In this instance the use of dots was inspired by the answer bubble sheets used in LEAP testing (the tests Louisiana students have to pass to graduate). It happened that I started this piece in the March of 2005 during “testing week” at a high school where I was teaching art. When this particular week rolls around homeroom teachers administer the tests. I was a substitute for an absent homeroom teacher. Well, I am no fan of this duty – even if it is primarily reading a script.

To begin this piece I created a grid. Then I drew outlines for my dots – like the bubbled in dots I mentioned. The last elements were some squiggly expressionist lines drawn through the grid. But that was only the set-up of parts.

A Whole Set of Color Pencils
Again and again I have listened to artists talk about their limited palette of colors used creating artwork. Well, at that time I was using my fourth 120- color pencil set. Too often there are colors that hardly or ever get used. Anyway, I was bound and determined to use each and every color for once. I was kind of inspired by a “kitsch” art show I saw in Boston at the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park.

Random Color Choice
In my last two posts I spoke about my interest in working randomly. Well, unlike my other works that include dots, I chose my combination of colors blindly. Specifically I picked out six pencils at a time without looking. Then I filled in each square, containing dots, on my grid. When finished I placed the six in another container before choosing six more. As I completed a round of choosing every color, then I’d start the rotation back to the original container. It took a long time to render the whole piece.

The Reaction
Needless to say both artists and non-artists have been fascinated by this work. Recently someone told me I should do a close-up study of this piece. At this time I have no specific plans for continuing this tangent of my artwork. Here are some close-up shots.


  1. Man, I don't know how you can teach and produce art at the same time. For the last seven years I have been a teacher and I found that it sucks the creativity right out of me. Stay strong.

  2. Jet:

    At the time I was teaching in a talent visual art program. The program's aim was to have artists teaching those students who tested as "talented." In this situation I taught one to three high school students at a time. They were pulled away from other classes to come to me. No grades were received for what they did with me. There were fifty or so kids on my caseload.

    I worked on my work so I wasn't hovering too much. They could see me working my process in different media. Just before Katrina I left that position. The stress from the job was having an adverse affect on my health. This was under the special ed umbrella which meant IEPs for each kid and regular paperwork.

    AS for the creativity, I have really had to push myself. Looking at some of the current art books has been big help for me. Also, I belong to nine artist organizations in the area. Thus, I am constantly seeing various media and techniques demonstrated and discussed. Our Contemporary Arts Center has had artist panels that discuss their work.