I recently read a fascinating article on Herman Miller’s blog WHY about designer Lance Wyman, who worked for George Nelson (Director of Design for Herman Miller furniture from the late ’40s through to the early ’70s). In the article Wyman credits his manager at Nelson, Irving Harper, with what I think is a wonderfully simple lesson: “I think Irving taught me it was possible to create serious design that included whimsy”.
Anyone who’s followed this blog at any time over the last few years (hi mum) will have realised that it’s as much about colour harmony as it is art. I am colour obsessed – I love the way different hues bounce off and rub against each other, the way they clash and blend at the edges. Marianne Gagnier is an abstract painter from New York, and the colour combinations she uses in her work are absolutely stunning. There’s not really a heap that needs to be said about these paintings – they’re bright, messy and use sets of colours that don’t obviously go together.
This guy’s stuff is great. He paints in this really nice flat style, with a gorgeous but not obviously harmonious colour palette. His paintings are warm and playful, but they have a cold, hard edge – maybe it’s literally the jagged shapes and hard lines, or the scratchy brushstrokes. Whatever it is, it works, and it makes me want to get a big canvas and throw a bunch of paint at it.
I haven’t posted for a while, and it’s been playing on my mind. But a couple of days ago I saw a painting by Irish-born Australian artist Colin Pennock in my Instagram feed, and I had to investigate further. Pennock’s paintings are huge, messy affairs with a really strong use of colour. His palettes aren’t dissimilar to those used by European impressionists, full of soft blues, lavender mauves and blushed pinks. The same can’t be said about his brushstrokes however. At first glance his canvases appear haphazardly layered with thick oil strokes, but take a few steps back and you can see that there is method to the madness, and a rhythm and direction in the overall compositions.
I really should have paid more attention in art history at uni. The work of Nicolas de Staël undoubtedly came up on the screen in that over-heated lecture theatre, so I’m kicking myself that I’m only ‘discovering’ him now. Born in Russia, de Staël painted in France from the late 1930s through to his death in 1955. The story goes that he was suffering from exhaustion (he produced over a thousand paintings in a fifteen year period), insomnia and depression and, seeking isolation, had moved with his family to the south of France. After a negative encounter with an art critic he took his own life by jumping from his studio terrace.
Andrea Belag’s paintings are remarkably simple, yet utterly compelling. It’s easy to can see how the New York-based painter creates her works, brushing big, confident strokes of oil onto linen, then brushing and scraping back through through them. The whole process might only take a few minutes, but the effect is incredible. The concentric marks made by her big, sweeping strokes gives the paintings a real depth – looking at them, you feel as though you’re peering into a vast, cavernous space. I’d love to see these in the flesh.
With a million colours available to artists and designers at the click of a mouse, black is often overlooked as a legitimate ‘colour’. It is instead seen as an absence of colour, taken for granted and often regarded as the default setting. But this is not the case with Polish artist Marta Orzel. Her acrylics feature black silhouettes and mountain ranges that contrast beautifully with the other colours on her palette.
Amy Woodside is a poet who knows how to hold a paintbrush. The New York based Kiwi works with words and phrases, breaking them down into individual letters and then forcing them back together like a kid playing with a complex jigsaw puzzle. She paints these graphic arrangements in gouache and acrylic, rendering them in bright colour and pitting them against high-contrast textured backgrounds, or against flat white. This is really nice stuff. Her website is beautiful as well, with gorgeous typography and lots of soft pastels.
I have a feeling I wrote a post about Jonas Wood on a previous iteration of To Everybody, but that’s okay – his work is so great it’s worth repeating. Wood’s paintings are like awkward pencil sketches brought to life. He paints predominantly still scenes – arrangements of potted plants, portraits, sports collector cards – in big bright areas of flat colour, often made up of heaps of thin, straight paint strokes. It’s a very graphical style of painting, and the result is not dissimilar to something you’d get with a box of Copic markers, except Wood is doing it with oils and acrylics which makes it much more impressive. Pattern and repetition feature heavily, often in an overtly hand-rendered, almost indigenous style. Really great stuff. Check back in another six months and I’ll probably post another dozen of his paintings!
I love screen printing. There’s a quality you get from it that digital printing will never be able to touch – the ink or paint you use is a real, tactile thing, and often gives you wonderfully unpredictable results that you couldn’t reproduce of you tried. French duo Atelier Bingo have nailed the process, as you can see from their catalogue of prints, and the work they’ve done for various bands and magazines. With a nice selection of bright colours and slices of sketchy, photocopied looking patterns they produce abstract collages that would look good just about anywhere.