painting

Helen Frankenthaler

today i’m inspired by the work of legendary abstract expressionist Helen Frankenthaler. her huge colourful paintings look like gigantic watercolours, but are in fact painted with oils & acrylics. Helen would work directly on unprepared canvas, and dilute the oil paint with turpentine (later she switched to acrylic paint), causing it to soak into the canvas – a technique called “soak stain” that was later adopted by other abstract expressionists like Jackson Pollock. her work was not highly gestural and painterly, instead she preferred to create pieces that looked as if they were “born in a minute”.

A really good picture looks as if it’s happened at once. It’s an immediate image. For my own work, when a picture looks labored and overworked, and you can read in it – well, she did this and then she did that, and then she did that – there is something in it that has not got to do with beautiful art to me. … I think very often it takes ten of those over-labored efforts to produce one really beautiful wrist motion that is synchronized with your head and heart, and you have it, and therefore it looks as if it were born in a minute.

What concerns me when I work, is not whether the picture is a landscape, or whether it’s pastoral, or whether somebody will see a sunset in it. What concerns me is – did I make a beautiful picture?

Helen was born and raised in New York, and was celebrated in the NYC art scene since her debut in the 50s.  she produced work until her death in 2011 (you can read her obituary at the New York Times), and apart from her painting she also created lithographs, etchings, screen prints and woodcuts. you can see her work at many institutions across the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MOMA, the Guggenheim and the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

Helen Frankenthaler photographed by Gordon Parks for Life Magazine

photographed by Gordon Parks for Life Magazine, 1956

Basque Beach, 1958 by Helen Frankenthaler

Basque Beach, 1958

Summer Scene Provincetown, 1961 by Helen Frankenthaler

Summer Scene Provincetown, 1961

Helen Frankenthaler photographed by Ernst Haas
Helen Frankenthaler photographed by Ernst Haas

photographed in her studio by Ernst Haas

Flood, 1967 by Helen Frankenthaler

Flood, 1967

Tutti Fruitti, 1966 by Helen Frankenthaler

Tutti Fruitti, 1966

Helen Frankenthaler, photographer unknown

photographed by by Alexander Liberman

Nepenthe, 1972 by Helen Frankenthaler

Nepenthe, 1972

Helen Frankenthaler photographed by William Grigsby

photographed by William Grigsby in her home, 1967

Untitled, 1965 by Helen Frankenthaler

Untitled, 1965

Helen Frankenthaler by Alexander Liberman

photographed by Alexander Liberman

Persian Garden, 1965 by Helen Frankenthaler

Persian Garden, 1965

Portrait of Helen Frankenthaler in front of woodblock proofs for Essence Mulberry, 1977

Helen Frankenthaler in front of woodblock proofs for Essence Mulberry, 1977 photographed by Lindsay Green

Helen Frankenthaler Lithographs at MOM

lithographs in the collection of MOMA

Helen-Frankenthaler-Alexander-Liberman

in her studio by Alexander Liberman

Small Paradise, 1964 by Helen Frankenthaler

Small Paradise, 1964

Helen Frankenthaler by Michael Fredericks

photographed by Michael Fredericks

Snowpines, 2004 by Helen Frankenthaler

Snowpines, 2004

Helen Frankenthaler, Painted on 21st Street

Painted on 21st Street

Untitled, 1963 by Helen Frankenthaler

Untitled, 1963

Helen Frankenthaler, photographer unknown

photographed by Alexander Liberman

Indian Summer, 1967 by Helen Frankenthaler

Indian Summer, 1967

Helen Frankenthaler photographed by Dan Budnick

Helen Frankenthaler photographed by Dan Budnick

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Pepa Prieto

i am fascinated by the work of artist Pepa Prieto, who was born in southern Spain, went to boarding school in England and now lives and works in New York. she has quite a varied body of work stemming from 2005 to now, but something i find consistently beautiful are those brush strokes that seem to coil their way through her pieces.

The paintings are small fragments of my universes, virtual landscapes, jungles of vegetation, ritual objects, memory embodied in physical objects, emotional constructions, human rituals, patterns and colors from memory- things seen from the inside out.

see a selection of her work at her website. all images & quote courtesy of Pepe Prieto.

Artist: Pepa Prieto Artist: Pepa Prieto Artist: Pepa Prieto Artist: Pepa Prieto Artist: Pepa Prieto Artist: Pepa Prieto Artist: Pepa Prieto Artist: Pepa Prieto

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Nasturtiums

if there’s one thing i will always remember about my mom’s garden, and perhaps my childhood in general, was the abundance of nasturtiums. this humble little flower seemed to grow in every garden in south africa – a bit of a weed, really. almost a lowly little bloom. i remember it having a peculiar smell, but possibly my favourite thing about it was its beautiful round leaves that would catch dew drops in the morning – and you’d carefully ease them off onto your tongue, pretending to be a bird.

i’ve noticed them a lot these days, becoming popular again, being used in floral arrangements and styled into photoshoots. i’m happy for the nasturtium! if anything it has been rendered immortal in the artwork of some of the greats. i can only imagine that they were as abundant for the artists in their day as they were in my mom’s garden.

Félix Vallotton

Abbott Fuller Graves

Gustave Caillebotte

Henri Fantin-Latour

Paul Gauguin

Henri Fantin-Latour

Odilon Redon

Félix Vallotton

Gustave Caillebotte

Félix Vallotton

Henri Matisse

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Ian Grose

Ian Grose is an artist who lives in Cape Town whose focus is painting. he has a tumblr called Small Paintings that are, well, small paintings. and extraordinary ones at that. i simply love his portraiture, but also enjoy the tiny (often quite abstract) landscapes. if you live in Cape Town, or have ever spent any time here at all, you will instantly recognise bits of the city in these small canvases. you can see more of Ian’s work at the Stevenson gallery.












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Floralia

Artsy is fast becoming one of my favourite daily internet check-ins. i’ve discovered so many artists that i probably would never have known about otherwise thanks to it. besides the clean & beautiful design, i’m also quite taken by the fact that you can log in and favourite pieces as you go down the Artsy rabbit hole.

Artsy’s mission is to make all the world’s art accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. We are an online platform for discovering, discussing, and collecting art. Our growing collection comprises 30,000+ artworks by 6,000+ artists from leading galleries, museums, private collections, foundations, and artists’ estates spanning diverse cultures and time periods.

as an art / gallery / museum lover it’s such a treat to have something like this at my fingertips. i thought i’d do a series of art-related posts to share my Artsy finds, instead of doing just one big visual dump. first up, some floral inspiration (as last week’s post is still in my mind).


Sharon Core

Jeffrey Ripple

Amir H. Fallah

Susan Headly van Campen

Bruce Cohen

Georges Braque

Jane Freilicher

Daniel Gordon

Maurice Scheltens and Liesbeth Abbenes

Emil Nolde

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Girl In The Wild

my friend Amy recently moved away to work at a game lodge in the bush, and though i will seriously miss her while she’s gone (i hate it when friends move away, why can’t we all just stay in the same city, huh?) i know she’s going to love it, because Amz is a bush girl. it’s also not many people who get to live in the African bush – that is a rare treasure, and something you should do once in your life if you can.

before she left she said she’s not going to change her style there, but rather maintain a Lauren Hutton Out of Africa-esque vibe. right on. so when i saw the fall campaign for Maiyet featuring Daria Werbowy somewhere out in the African wild i immediately though of Amz, and thought i’d do an ode to her in the form of a fashion meets painting post. hopefully she can print them out and stick them in one of her books.

before you ask, i did not paint these by hand. that would be ridiculous! thanks photoshop.

original photos: Maiyet Fall campaign featuring Daria Werbowy shot by Cass Bird on location in Chyulu Hills, Kenya. 

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