Abstract Investigations with Zoe Cohen

Last week I was finally back at Sitka in the beautiful Boyden studio, not teaching, but taking a class from Eugene artist Zoe Cohen. The class was titled Abstract Investigations: Color and Composition. What a great class in my one of my favorite locations — on the Oregon coast at Cascade Head.

Zoe’s description of the class:

This four-day workshop is designed specifically for abstract painters to help clarify visual language and bring intentionality to their painting practice. We will make a deep inquiry into what inspires our art through examining contemporary abstract art, informal writing exercises and instructor demos. We will traverse the full range of the spectrum from intuition to deliberate action, from right brain to left brain and from spontaneity to decision, and we will learn to travel back and forth between these polarities. 

The class had all the elements that are important and that I love. The first day we focused on value and color mixing, always a good place to start.

The second day we focused on tools and techniques, and we were all off to the races after a couple of demos by Zoe. The day for me was dedicated to initial layers and playing around with leftover paint.

Day 3 was more layers and exploration of abstraction, intuitive versus deliberate actions. We began to look for the composition in our paintings and move our pieces forward. I worked on 10×10-inch pieces of Stonehenge printmaking paper, 12×12-inch wood panels, and 14×14-inch cradled birch panels. I liked jumping between these three substrates.

On the final day, we primarily focused on painting and completing a few pieces. It was a whirlwind of a day, especially since we had to stop a little early to pack up and have a show and tell before class concluded.

These are the pieces that I moved forward to various stages of completion; a few of them I have declared finished and the others, I’ve just stopped at interesting places.

Post script . . . . .

 

Each morning before heading to class, I read a section from jung pueblo’s Clarity and Connection.When I read something that resonated with me, I jotted the words down in my visual journal–the journal I took to class and where I took notes. On our final day, this was the passage I wrote in my journal:

one of the bravest things

you can do

is boldly embrace the unknown,

accept your fear,

and continue to move forward

 

a clear mission

does not always have a clear path

 

                                                    jung pueblo

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