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painting my Rothko-inspired canvas background

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Mark Rothko was an American painter known for his abstract expressionism style, characterised by large colour fields and a lack of recognisable forms. Inspired by his work, I began to experiment with this style of painting, using my own colours and interpretations.


As I worked on my canvas, I found myself drawn to the way Rothko's use of colour created a sense of depth and emotion. I wanted to capture that same feeling in my own work. But what I also really admired about Rothko's work was the textures he created, as I was unsure I had the painting skills to replicate this with brushes (especially as this was my first time painting on a canvas) I used the method of mono-printing to 'paint' with. Mono-printing is where you use special inks, that are tacky in feeling and instead of using brushed you use metal plates to transfer the colour to the paper. I started off doing some sketches and then experiments with colours and then followed by figuring out if the process of mono-printing worked better on Acrylic or Emulsion paint as I needed to prep my canvas. 


I carefully considered the placement and intensity of each colour, striving to create a harmonious balance.

As the painting progressed, I found myself becoming more immersed in the process. The act of blending colours and creating new shades became almost meditative. In the end, my interpretation was not just a copy of Rothko's style but a unique expression of my own artistic vision.

Through this experience, I learned that art is not just about technique or skill but about finding your own voice and expressing it through your work.


I considered the colours I was using and chose to follow a triadic colour concept for my guidelines. 
Although I enjoyed the textures that the mono-printing created on canvas, this was a slow process as I had to manually press the canvas onto the metal plates. When doing mono-printing with paper you tend to use a pressing machine which gives you a nice heavy hand to transfer the inks onto your paper, but as the canvas was far too big to be mechanically pressed, this meant it was very time-consuming but I was determined to continue with the method of hand pressing as it was the texture I was really enjoying while creating this background for my projection. 

I preferred the texture and patterns left when printing on top of the acrylic paint whereas on top of the emulsion, the inks bled too much and I was worried that on my canvas, this would build up to such large chunks of solid colour that it might look as if the canvas was un-finished rather than it being a style choice. 


When I finished creating three A1 prototypes where I played around with colours, textures, and layering using different mediums. After taking a step back and looking at all three of them, I found that each had elements that I admire. 
In particular, I love how the orange/teal one had just the right amount of white showing through. It feels like you can peel away bits of it. But what drew me in are the colours of the lilac/blue one. I asked a few peers and tutors what emotions the colours evoked, and I got such positive feedback. They found it serene yet mystifying, which for me was like hitting the jackpot, especially as I felt the same way. 
As I experimented with Rothko's boxes and the use of shadows and layers, I found that although I plan to use some of these elements in my final canvas, the overall look was too busy to serve as a background for the projection.

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I am happy with the outcome of my canvas. I am pleased with the colours I have used, the texture the mono-printing has created and the layering of the colours. I hope that this will serve as a background for the portrait as I hope. 

I am really pleased I was able to complete the triadic element of my canvas as planned. When adding the mustard acrylic paint on top of the mono-printed elements, I wanted to add a soft line separating some of the colour blocking. I chose to pull the paint with a spatula as I was hoping it would produce inconsistency and I worried that using a paintbrush wouldn't play to my strengths. 
The addition of the gold leaf, a small element in comparison with the rest of the canvas was a last-minute, almost lightbulb-like moment representing a 'heartbeat' or 'sound wave' visual, connecting the physiological to the visual and aural, using the power of three - another emerging theme in the piece. I find it fascinating how sometimes those "lightbulb moments" can bring new dimensions to artwork. I think it defines the canvas as its own, hopefully, captivating piece of art but supports the emotion of curiosity that I want to evoke in the audience. 

​As an art student, the outcome of a canvas is always a moment of pride and satisfaction. It is a culmination of hard work, creativity, and passion that has been poured into the artwork. As this is the first canvas I have painted, especially it's size of it, I feel very proud with the end result.

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