I remember the first time I saw Mark Rothko's work. No, it wasn't at a fancy retrospective in a prestigious museum. It was in the form of a 12-month calendar laying on a disheveled table top display at my elementary school book fair, next to the kitten and race car calendars. Squares and rectangles washed in brilliant hues of color. His paintings made me feel something. Something more than just "ooh pretty". It was many years later that I would return to Rothko's work when I began to paint. I wanted to understand it. Contrary to what most of us would assume, Rothko had zero interest in painting for aesthetic pleasure. He was not interested in color and form as an aspect of design. He wanted to depict the "human drama" through luminosity, darkness, space, and color. He described his work as "a simple expression of complex thought".
How then to introduce Rothko's work to young artists? I actually find that my youngest students are already using color to tell stories, to convey "complex thought". Have you ever asked a 3-year old to tell you about their free-form painting? Generally a whole world lies within the abstract colors and shapes. They are already doing it!
1. Mix your colors in a butcher tray or paint palette. 2. Cut your cardboard scraps in squares, rectangles, and strips. 3. Paint your cardboard. 4. After your paint dries you can start to build and layer your abstract paintings. 5. When you are satisfied with your composition, you will glue them down with hot glue. 6. Cut 3" lengths of gold wire. 7. Create a hanging loop with your wire and attach it with hot glue to the back of your painting. 8. Cover the sharp ends of your wire with another piece of cardboard. Your mini abstracts are ready to hang!