Phillips-at-Home Summer Series #2: Sense of Space

Our second project of the Phillips-at-Home Summer Series features the artist Juan Gris and his work Abstraction. For this art activity, you are going to create an abstract monoprint of a room focusing on the objects that make up that room. What is a monoprint? It is a single print made of an image from a printing plate.

Juan Gris, Abstraction, 1915, Oil and oil with sand on cardboard 11 3/8 x 7 3/4 in. Acquired 1930. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.

Juan Gris, Abstraction, 1915, Oil and oil with sand on cardboard 11 3/8 x 7 3/4 in. Acquired 1930. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.

Look closely: What do you see when you look at this painting? How do the colors make you feel? What do you like about the composition of this painting?

About the Artist: Juan Gris was born Jose Victoriano Gonzalez on March 23, 1887, in Madrid, Spain. He began college in 1902 at the Escuela de Artes y Manufacturas to be an engineer but he left the school in 1904 to study painting with artist Jose Maria Carbonero. He started painting in the Art Nouveau style and then moved to Paris because he wanted to meet Pablo Picasso. In 1911, he created his first cubist paintings, which (as you can see above) have a very distinctive grid composition style. The Phillips Collection has two paintings by Gris in its permanent collection.

WHAT YOU NEED:

Here are the items I chose from our art workshop

Here are the items I chose from our art workshop

 

  • Items that represent any room of your choosing

    Supplies needed

    All supplies needed

  • 2 (8.5” x 11”) sheets copy paper
  • 1 (8.5” x 11”) sheet cardstock, or thick paper
  • 1 Styrofoam (4” x 6”) plate
  • Washable markers (permanent markers are not recommended for this project)
  • Tape
  • Scissors

SUGGESTED AGE:

  • Ages 7 and up

TIME FRAME:

  • 3-4 hours
Step 2 example

Step 2 example

 

STEPS:

1. Choose a room in your house or anywhere that gives you a sense of space. Collect objects in that room that symbolize the space for you.

2. Fold your sheet of 8.5” x 11” copy paper in half and then in half again so you have 4 rectangles on each side.

  • Tip: Draw along the folds so you can clearly see the boxes.

 

 

 

 

3. Sketch one object from your space in each rectangle of your sheet as a symbol. What is a symbol? A symbol is something that represents something else. It becomes simplified.

Step 3 example

Step 3 example

Step 3 example

Step 3 example

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Step 3 example

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Fold another piece of copy paper into quarters. Draw one of your symbols in a rectangle, then move your paper around and draw another symbol on top of it. Rotate your paper while drawing your symbols until you can’t quite tell what they are. By doing this, you are creating an abstraction. What is an abstraction? Abstract is something that is real, but it does not quite look like it. Repeat this same process in the 4 rectangles on your paper, creating 4 different compositions.

Step 4 example

Step 4 example

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Step 4 example

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Choose your favorite composition. Get your styrofoam plate and a pencil.  Apply medium pressure as your draw your symbols from your favorite composition onto the styrofoam plate.

Step 5 example

Step 5 example

Step 5 example

Step 5 example

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Fold the piece of Cardstock in half (hamburger-style), make a tape bubble (loop your tape to create a circle) to place on the back of your styrofoam plate and center it on one side of the inside of your fold (resembling a card).

Step 6 example

Step 6 example

Step 6 example

Step 6 example

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Time to get out your markers! Choose a shape to color in, put down the marker and quickly close the card. Gently rub the area where you applied the marker on the opposite side. Open the card to see how it looks. Depending on the color, you might have to apply marker onto your shape several times. As long as you begin to rub your paper immediately, you should not have to worry about the saturation.

Step 7 example

Step 7 example

Step 7 example

Step 7 example

Step 7 example

Step 7 example

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. Continue applying colors to the different shapes that you created in your abstract composition.

Step 8 example

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Step 8 example

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. Once you have filled your styrofoam plate and transferred the colors, cut the cardstock along the fold. Now it’s time to label your monoprint. On the lower left side give your print a title; it could be something about the room or maybe something that you would like the viewer to focus on in your print. In the center below your print, write “1/1″ because you only have one print. On the right side, sign your name because you are the artist!

Step 9 example

Step 9 example

My Art Room Monoprint, Print: Julia Kron

My Art Room Monoprint, Print: Julia Kron

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10. You have successfully completed your first print! Feel free to get a damp paper towel and wipe off the colors if you would like to create another monoprint on a new piece of cardstock paper.

Tune in regularly for another great art activity inspired by The Phillips Collection!

Julia Kron, K12 Education Intern

Spotlight on The Red Sun: Part II

Image of works by Ellsworth Kelly, Joan Miro, and Alexander Calder

(Left) Ellsworth Kelly, Red Relief, 2009. Oil on canvas, two joined panels, 80 x 62 1/2 x 2 5/8 in. Private collection. Photo: Jerry L. Thompson, courtesy the artist © Ellsworth Kelly (middle) Joan Miró, The Red Sun, 1948. Oil and gouache on canvas, 36 1/8 x 28 1/8 in. Acquired 1951. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. (right) Alexander Calder, Untitled, 1948. Painted sheet metal and wire, 26 x 26 x 5 1/2 in. Gift from the estate of Katherine S. Dreier, 1953. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.

Read Part I of this series 

It is always fun to hear the stories behind a work of art, giving an otherwise unknown perspective on the painting. Duncan Phillips wanted to show “art beyond ‘isms,’” and I found it interesting that while he was not keen on surrealism, he acquired Joan Miró’s The Red Sun (1948) on the grounds that it fit in with the rest of his collection. Our guide for this spotlight talk, Paul Ruther, pointed out this connectivity and discussed the painting’s similarities to other works currently on view nearby–the surrounding Ellsworth Kelly panels (use of similar, bright primary colors) and Alexander Calder mobiles (floating objects in space).

Miró’s whimsy was not only evident in his art, but also his personality. After visiting the United States and New York for the first time, he returned to Spain with an unusual souvenir—sidewalk toys, which he added to his personal toy collection. In fact, some of the toys’ faces are strikingly similar to the background face in this painting!

Hannah Hoffman, Marketing Intern

Spotlight on The Red Sun: Part I

Image of Joan Miro's painting The Red Sun

Joan Miró, The Red Sun, 1948. Oil and gouache on canvas, 36 1/8 x 28 1/8 in. Acquired 1951. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.

When describing the work of Joan Miró, words like bizarre, cartoonish, surrealistic, and dreamlike immediately came to the minds of participants in one of last week’s Spotlight Talks, a weekly series devoted to examining one work in the Phillips’s permanent collection. The talk, led by Paul Ruther, Manager of Teacher Programs, focused on Miró’s The Red Sun (1948), currently on view in the first floor of the Goh Annex, and interestingly is the only work by Miró in The Phillips Collection. Up until this talk, I appreciated Miró’s work from a historical sense, but never actually liked it. This painting, however, gave me a new perspective on his work and artistic vision.

Ruther began by asking the group what words they would use to describe the general aesthetics of Miró’s work. His signature use of bright primary colors, surrealistic imagery, and cartoonish faces we found widely apparent in this painting, from the blood red sphere (which we assumed was the “red sun”) to the headless torso and the floating cat-like face at the top of the painting. Ruther concisely described his work as “art of the subconscious.”

As you can probably tell from my attempt at describing this painting, there was no clear consensus on the specific imagery it portrays but rather speculations on its possibilities. Upon first glance, I immediately saw the painting as the visual representation of our minds during a dreamlike state, which fits into Miró’s idea of “art of the subconscious.” In our examinations, we noticed that the blue background shape looks vaguely like a face and the shape on the far right resembles a torso. Ruther pointed out the various “floating eyes of observation” throughout the painting and explained that most art historians view the descending thick black curves as a representation of Miró’s melancholy, alleviated by his dreams and his art. While the wall label cites this work’s materials as oil on canvas, we learned that the lighter blue passage is actually watercolor.

Read part two tomorrow. . .

Hannah Hoffman, Marketing Intern