Triangles, Cones, and Legs in Milton Avery’s Dancing Trees

Avery_Dancing Trees

Milton Avery, Dancing Trees, 1960. Oil on canvas, 52 x 66 in. Paul G. Allen Family Collection © 2015 Milton Avery Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Marketing Intern Olivia Bensimon spent some time with Milton Avery’s Dancing Trees (1960), on view in Seeing Nature, recording her thoughts and reactions in a freewriting exercise:

Blue triangles of different size superposed on a turquoise and blue-grey background. Cones with legs and spots. Milton Avery’s abstract painting evokes something more like a dream than a landscape. The swaying of these cones is discernible; the circular brushstrokes of the cones in the foreground in comparison to the straight strokes of the background show movement. Candy corn from the Halloween trick or treats of my childhood comes to mind. The kernels float around and echo the movement of the wind. Shrubs begin to appear, branches and leaves sprout out from what once was a two dimensional triangle. The wind picks up as the cones are completely covered in a homogeneous surface of leaves. The wind whistles through the leaves; the cones still swaying with the wind, now swaying with the whistling. Finally, trees appear instead of cones, dancing against the wind on a flat landscape of turquoise grass.

The landscapes on view in Seeing Nature can inspire any number of different emotions and reactions. Does one of the works from the exhibition stand out to you? Take a stab at your own freewriting exercise in response! Let your pen take the lead and send us the result at contest@phillipscollection.org for a chance to win a Phillips gift bag. We’ll feature our favorite submissions here on the blog.

Olivia Bensimon, Marketing & Communications Intern

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.

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Step 3 example

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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.

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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.

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Step 5 example

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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

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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.

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Step 7 example

Step 7 example

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Step 7 example

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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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

ArtGrams: Appreciating Morris Louis

Seal Morris Louis_2__samjang_

Via Instagrammer @_samjang_ #MorrisLouis #DC

This month’s ArtGrams features Morris Louis’s large-scale painting Seal (1959). Here are some of our favorite interactions with the work snapped by Instagrammers.

Seal Morris Louis_5_jonathanaustinart

Instagrammer @jonathanaustinart: “Checking out the masterpieces at The Phillips Collection. Best way to start my weekend. Morris Louis’s paintings.”

Seal Morris Louis_4_rareformproperties

We see some Louis reflections in this scarf! Shot by @rareformproperties.

Seal Morris Louis_6_belleauroradesigns

Thanks, @belleauroradesigns! “Love the @phillipscollection”

Seal Morris Louis_3_dannythimm

Black top / black jeans / black paint. Photo by @dannythimm

Seal Morris Louis_1_willballantynereid

Cropping just the corner and putting a tinted filter over Louis’s vibrant colors casts “Seal” in a new light. Photo by @willballantynereid