Your Ah Haa Moment: Rebecca Crowell Instructs

Your Ah Haa Moment: Rebecca Crowell Instructs

hqdefaultIn the second decade of the 20th century, on the heels of Cubism and other detours from dusty old realism, abstraction became the “ism” du jour and the Holy Grail of modern art. By the time the center of gravity in the art world shifted from Paris to New York, just after World War II, abstraction came to wear a number of different hats unified under the banner of Abstract Expressionism.

AbEx was a loose confederation of artists. In part, the movement,  really a catchall for disparate American artists who revered primitive myths, became all about celebrating the physical act of painting, gesture alone, in the work of artists such as Jackson Pollack, with his tangled up, gestural skeins. At the other end of the spectrum, it was about transcendence and archetypes, represented by artists such as Mark Rothko, whose luminous blurs of paint were as close as it gets to an atmosphere of spirituality. Rebecca Crowell’s work has a similar awe-inspiring impact, the artist having eliminated figure and ground in favor of color and form – though echoes of a “landscape” feature in the work.

Rebecca Crowell, represented locally by the Telluride Gallery of Fine Art, is a guest instructor at the Ah Haa School for the Arts. She will be in town Friday, September 6 – Monday, September 9, teaching “Abstract Painting with Cold Wax Medium.” The emphasis in the workshop is on understanding basic concepts and exploration and experimentation with her process.

“My process is one of mixing oil paint mixed with wax medium, and building up layers of paint into rich textures using a variety of tools and techniques. Many of my paintings are made up of multiple panels, bolted together, a format that enhances contrast and a sense of structure. My work evolves intuitively, through decisions that are spontaneous, yet carefully evaluated at every step.”

Stated another  more poetic way by art historian Louis Le Brocquy:

“The painter, like the archaeologist, is a watcher, a supervisor of accident; patiently disturbing the surface of things until significant accident becomes apparent, recognizing it, conserving this as best he can while provoking further accident. In this way a whole image, a ‘whatness,’ may with luck gradually emerge almost spontaneously.”

Judith Kohin is executive director of Ah Haa and an artist in her own right has studied with Crowell:

“Rebecca is a generous, knowledgeable teacher—a true master of the cold wax technique. Cold wax is very accessible—anyone can learn it and the process doesn’t require a lot of new tools. I learned so many new techniques under Rebecca’s guidance that I’m incorporating into my work. Her insights regarding color, layering, and composition have proven invaluable. We are thrilled to have Rebecca back at our school.”

About the artist:

Since earning her MFA in painting from Arizona State University in 1985, Rebecca Crowell has led a life centered around her art, working almost daily in her studio in western Wisconsin, with time out for travels and painting in England, Spain, the Western U.S., and the Canary Island of Lanzarote.

Although Crowell’s work is generally quiet, orderly, and meditative in its finished form, the production of a canvas can be quite violent: sharp tools and aggressive “archaeology” coupled with periods of careful editing and decisiveness, which still allow for fortunate accidents and random occurrences.

 Above all Crowell has learned to “trust the process.”

“The goal in my process is not to render something in paint but to allow the paint to suggest a path through the work as it develops. I remain in charge of what to keep and what to discard, and how to structure and organize the image.”

To register for Rebecca Crowell’s course, go here or call 970-728-3886.

For more information about Crowell’s life and work, watch this video.

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