My drawing and painting life
I’m sharing a painting from the oil painting class I’m taking with Mieke Siemons, abstract painter and teacher from Vianen (a small city near Utrecht, where I live). This painting is strongly influenced by the work of Sonia Delauney, a painter and designer, originally from Ukraine, who lived in France most of her life (1885-1979).
We’re looking at the art of four female painters in this course. For the past three weeks we’ve been inspired by the life and work of Sonia Delauney. As we move on to a new artist, I am leaving this painting as is, for the moment. It would improve from adding another layer of paint probably, but we’re moving on to another artist.
After doing a lot of free work during my year of daily creating, it felt good to study the work of an artist closely and try and learn from their work by copying. One can learn a lot by copying. By copying I mean trying to get as close to an exact copy as possible within the space of one or two lessons (each about an hour and a half to two hours). I already showed a close copy of a painting of Dutch painter Jacoba van Heemskerck in an earlier post. This time, studying Delauney during two lessons, I tried working in her style, inspired by several of her paintings in which she used circles of color. So in this case my painting is similar to, but not an exact copy of any particular work.
You may not have heard of this painter. It’s interesting to see (and quite sad) that art history is mostly about male artists, whereas their female contemporary artists are forgotten more easily even when they produced work that was equally interesting and inspiring. I will share some info on her life in a separate blogpost.
About Sonia Delauney
Sonia Delauney lived a long life (from 1885 until 1979) and lived worked in several countries, but spent most of her life in France. She was very productive artist and designer. She was born in the Ukraine, studied in Petrograd / St. Petersburg and later in Paris. She lived in Spain and Portugal for some years (she got stranded in Spain during the First World War) and then she returned to France. She started designing clothes and making designs for the theater when she lived in Spain and was very successful at that.
She married another artist, Robert Delauney, and they developed a color theory called ‘Simultaneism’. One of the elements in their work is that they considered color to be of more importance than line. They were interested in the way colors that are next to each other have an effect on our perception of them. They both produced paintings based on this color theory, often painting orbs and circles – like I did in the painting above.
After Robert died in 1941, Sonia spent several years to make sure his life’s work was well preserved and worked on a book about his life – next to making art works of her own. She lived for another thirty odd years after his death and produced a large body of work – both of paintings and designs for fabric, for clothes and designs for theater productions.
She is considered an important avant-garde artist in France. She was the first female painter to get a retrospective in the Louvre during her lifetime (in the sixties) – check! She had shows of her work in France from early in her career and also in other countries during her lifetime. In 2015 the Tate Modern in London organized an exhibition about her work.
This is only a brief summary of her life. If you like to know more, do follow the links provided below. I myself intend to read the French pages on Wikipedia later – as they are a lot more detailed than any other source I found so far.
Introduction on Sonia Delauney on the Tate website. You’ll find a lot of information and images of her work there.
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