Third Quarter Challenge – Rothko in the Round

Third Quarter Challenge – Rothko in the Round

I’m just squeaking in under the deadline for the third quarter challenge. I had a hard time deciding what to create. Finally, I fell back on experimenting with layered color mixing. I have always thought that Mark Rothko’s paintings would work well as an inspiration for this technique. So I searched for a painting of his that was created in the 1950’s. I found number 10 painted in 1950 at MoMA’s website.

With my inspiration in mind, I was planning on making a flat piece of felt but then Ann posted about creating some lantern covers.   I decided I would give that a try and see how light would affect the color mixing as well.

I didn’t have any tall glass vases like Ann used but I did have an olive jar that was the same shape mostly. I could use that. I created a resist to include approximately 30% shrinkage and got out my stash of short fiber merino. I didn’t really have enough of the blue for the first layer but decided to go ahead and wing it.

The short fiber merino that I do have is in batts, so I wrapped the blue around in the vertical direction for the first layer.

Then I added more colors in layers wrapping the resist horizontally. These were all solid colors to start with and I wanted to see if the movement/migration of the fiber would create a more mottled look like you see in Rothko’s paintings.

I did add a bit of dark grey at the top for a deeper value. The photo on the left shows the piece after layout and wet down. The photo on the right shows the piece after felting before I removed the resist. You can definitely start to see the color migration. I cut out both ends of the resist and as you can see at the bottom of the right photo, the blue wasn’t covering the ends completely. But I decided to leave the ragged edges as the Rothko piece felt like the paint had ragged edges. Then I fulled the piece and pulled it over the glass jar to hold it’s shape while it dried.

Here’s the result. It looks very much like a landscape to me and the color mixing worked just as I wanted. You can see the top of the glass jar in the photo on the right. I would prefer a smooth vase and I will have to go and look for some at the local dollar stores. I did try a light inside but I made the felt too thick for that to have much effect at all. But I do like the possibilities of this technique, creating thinner layers next time. I hope to create some landscape lanterns with real glass vases. Thanks for the idea Ann and thanks for the challenge Lyn and Annie. It made me try something out of my usual box.

11 thoughts on “Third Quarter Challenge – Rothko in the Round

  1. The Rothko inspiration is clear in your felt Ruth and the ragged edge is true to his painting. The migration of the red fibres in particular has produced lovely colouring.

    Your Rothko vase is ‘landscapey’ and very attractive!

  2. Lovely vessel, Ruth & definitely reminds me of Rothko’s work. A great response to the challenge and good that you enjoyed being nudged into new areas.

    1. Thanks Lindsay, I liked using the migration properties of felt to achieve a certain look. Glad that it worked and fun to try something new.

  3. Can’t say I go for the Rothko painting. I’d never heard of him so I had a quick look and then read the gallery note below. I must admit I couldn’t see that it actually described the painting as I couldn’t see the 3 plains softly merging into each other. Not my cup of tea at all, but then I don’t understand abstract paintings.
    Now your vase cover Ruth I really like. The way the layered colours have migrated and mixed is great. I look forward to your next experiment as I’m sure your idea of combining the mixed colours with light will be really good. I’m going to snitch your colour blending idea for some pre-felted grass for my current picture.

    1. Ann, I have to say that abstract paintings are definitely hard to “get”. I do think seeing them in person at a museum gives you a much better understanding as there are so many details and subtleties that you can’t see in a photo online. I have slowly developed an appreciation for abstraction as I continue to study the work more closely.

      I would love to see how your color blending works for grass. I definitely think this technique works for a more ‘abstract’ landscape.

  4. I had to look the artist up too. I like his earlier work better than the blocks of colour abstracts. you are right abstracts are far more interesting in person, as you can see texture as well as colour. and sometimes size has a big effect as well. I have to say though, I like your piece better than his.

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