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Painting Challenge #1: Movement

Painting Challenge #1

In Week One of an online “7 week painting challenge” with San Francisco artist Tesia Blackburn, we were tasked with expressing movement without the use of “repetitious cliche” per the works of the fascinating American contemporary artist Brice Marden. For research and inspiration we were asked to watch a compelling 1 hr 20 minute video of the artist speaking as part of a program in London, a joint endeavour of the the art gallery Tate Modern and the American Embassy as part of the Art in Embassies program (AIE).

We were encouraged to use unconventional tools and methods of painting, to break out of our usual techniques and habits, and to embrace the unfamiliar. Brice Marden paints with a stick, as shown in this image. He likes to be removed from the canvas to be able to better see the whole image and take advantage of the accidents and unpredictability of his chosen tool.


Brice Marden in one of his studios working on his Cold Mountain series

In my painting (Movement #1), I rubbed paint into the canvas with my hands and scrubbed pigment into the piece with bunched up paper towels. I applied paint with a popsicle stick; I scribed into layers of paint with a large nail, and removed areas of paint with Q-tips. I scraped paint across the canvas with pieces of cardboard, and used my fingers to flick paint at the canvas, and yes – I even used a paintbrush at times as I built up layer after layer of translucent and opaque acrylic paint, documenting each step as I attempted to forgo repetition and avoid putting down cliche marks on the canvas.
I don’t know if I successfully “solved” the challenge in this piece, but I definitely “met” the challenge and truly got into my creative zone this past week. (I actually worked on 3 separate canvases, simplifying the notion of movement each time – each one is completely different from its predecessor),


Detail from “Movement #1” – deb davies thorkelson {}

This painting was one of two that I submitted to Tesia for critique. We will meet up again on Thursday night in our virtual classroom to look at everyone’s work and discuss the results of last week’s assignment. Then we’ll receive the new week’s challenge. Each week we’ll study a different artist and create our own works as we solve a specific challenge. Check back each week to see my results.

I’ll post “Movement #2”, the second piece I submitted for this week’s challenge a little later… I’m not completely satisfied that I’ve taken it as far as I can go, so I may work on it some more. In fact, in “Movement #1” I think there’s too much going on and may work on it more to simplify the movement…

– Deb


Detail from “Movement #1” – deb davies thorkelson {}


Detail from “Movement #1” – deb davies thorkelson {}


Final? painting”Movement #1″    |    16″ x 20″ Acrylic on Canvas     |     deb davies thorkelson {}


© deb davies thorkelson    |    Image: Acrylic on Canvas 16″ x 20″ – “Movement #1”

You can see Painting Challenge Week 2 here

To locate the entire series of Painting Challenges you can search this blog for “Painting Challenge” or go to the main menu by clicking on the name of this blog & look under the menu for:
Images > Art > Painting

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11 replies »

  1. That is actually a brave thing to do after a long hiatus. And you come back smoking! Your doodle art has significant movement and lends itself to all kinds of media, natural and man made. The 4 overlapping wheels in the one shown in sketchbook three on the opposite page as the hand is like spinning cogs in a Byzantine machine. I envision a masterpiece but all I have is crayons and my granddaughter gets mad if I wear them out. I’ll enjoy your work instead 🙂


    • You’re so nice… thanks so much for your encouraging words. I just received the painting challenge for week #2 and it’s a doozie. I love that you draw with your granddaughter! Maybe get the paints out and use your hands and popsicle sticks and paper towel to paint with! (washable kid-friendly paints) I bet she’d love it… and I’d love to see the pics of what you two are coming up… xo

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much. I actually like the close-ups better than the composition of the entire piece. I haven’t painted much for about 8 yrs and I really enjoyed myself, getting carried away in the process. This 7-week painting challenge class is really jump-starting be back into the world of painting! Thanks for your nice comment, coming from you that’s very very cool. xo

      Liked by 1 person

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