Studio Experiment in Pop Art with Watercolor and Pencils

Pop Art in the Second Man Cave

My detour into Pop Art has extended into a second day.  I cannot exactly explain how this has happened.  For about a year, I have been bothered that my genre for painting has anchored in landscape and nostalgic items of architecture, signage and vehicles.  I’ve been contemplating still lifes, but never made the effort until yesterday.  And I ended up backing into it because of my ongoing interest in Andy Warhol and the Pop Art phenomena.  For over ten years I have purchased objects from antique stores and nostalgia shops to support my Fifties interests (my company is http://www.recollections54.com), because the Fifties were my years of growing up, and my eyes were always filled with wonder at my surroundings.  I read that Henri Matisse as a young boy was enchanted at the sight of colorful birds, tropical fish in bowls, and his first set of watercolors.  Well, I too recall my pre-literature years and the fixation I had with commercial color schemes, most notably cereal boxes, coffee tins, gas station signs and billboards.

When I first saw the Stuart Davis Lucky Strike painting, I marveled at the dark green and bright orange-red color scheme, recalling that my growing up only witnessed Luckies as a red target on a white background.  About ten years ago, I found this cigarette tin in an antique store and couldn’t reach for my wallet fast enough–there were the colors that I found so enchanting in the Davis painting at the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth.

Yesterday I began this 12 x 14″ composition in watercolor, Prismacolor and watercolor pencils with occasional ink.  My eye has always focused on details, colors and textures, whether I was staring at a landscape or building en plein air or an enlarged photograph.  But now I am staring at a cigarette tin, hand-sized, on the table in front of me, that keeps changing as the northern lights outside my studio windows change from sunny to overcast (it’s trying to rain in Arlington, Texas at this moment; yesterday it was bright and sunny throughout the day).  I am fascinated with the highlights coming off the painted surfaces of the tin, as well as the dynamics of all the rusted spots, scratches and imperfections.  And  I am trying to record these observations the best I can on paper with the materials at hand.  And I am enjoying the experience.

I have finally completed a second Man Cave environment.  My garage will not be available again until probably late September (Texas temperatures are deadly this time of year).  So I have moved a second drafting table to my living room, where I have an entire wall of windows to the north, providing excellent lighting.  As I’ve worked today, I have listened to a 120-minute DVD documentary titled Painters Painting.  The film features interviews with New York artists from the Fifties onward, including DeKooning, Motherwell, Newman, Warhol, Johns, Rauschenberg and many others.  I am particularly enjoying the discussion of the shift in the art world from Abstract Expressionism to Pop.  I am sympathetic to both sides, and find myself particularly anchored in neither school, as I still find my comfort zone in the realm of Regionalism as I’ve enjoyed the works of Homer, Hopper and Wyeth.  But still, as a student of art history, I love all periods, and enjoy their contributions to art and the ideas we enjoy.

Thanks for reading.

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2 Responses to “Studio Experiment in Pop Art with Watercolor and Pencils”

  1. Merv Faulk Says:

    I too grew up in the 1940’s and 1950’s and have always been mesmerized by these common objects, especially the things that used to come in tins….there is quite a history there David!

    Like

    • davidtripp Says:

      Nice to hear from you, Merv! I’m always glad to hear of someone else’s appreciation of the history that breathes through these objects left behind. I think it was Bernard Shaw who wrote that even when the integrity is swept clean out of these objects that are strewn across our landscape, the form is still splendid. I know that rings true for me.

      Like

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