Confusion of Cuteness

I am sad to announce that my Tuesday evening abstract art classes will be discontinued indefinitely. Unfortunately, the tutor needs to step down due to health issues which is totally understandable, but we will miss him and his wonderful classes which we have all been look forward to going weekly. And here is last painting I completed whilst there, but had to leave behind for months as the oil pastels needed drying. Another COBRA-style kawaii abstract art featuring Little One and her friends!

Anton Rooskens Inspired

During my years at the classes, I got to discover and appreciate the works of some modern Dutch artists. The COBRA (Copenhagen-Brussels-Amsterdam) movement came about in the 1950s, a time when Europe was picking up the pieces after WWII. By then came the sudden burst of creative freedom following the repressive mood during the war. And what a burst that was! All the beautiful abstract works blossomed, many of them being somewhat inspired by children’s drawings and primitive artforms. This of course translates to “kawaii” and simple (in a positive way), which naturally drew my attention. One of such artists in this movement is Anton Rooskens (1906-1976) whose work also inspired me with all the circular shapes, bold strokes, vibrant colors and mysteriously hidden facial features:


My version was to be on a huge square canvas using oil pastels. First the black background required completely covering the canvas with black acrylic paint. A roller was used for this to ensure even coverage and thickness without any bumps. Once I let it dry, I was good to go! My idea was firstly scribbled on a piece of paper before transcribing it on the canvas. Then once I was happy with it, I carefully sketched my outline with some white chalk pencil which could easily be erased for mistakes. And here was such a great opportunity to be so free! Random cats, teddies and bunnies, not to forget Little One!

Color Away!

I went for oil pastels for this painting primarily because I love how strong and vibrant they appear. And of course, it was a great chance to experiment and see if I like working with them on canvas. Another is that I have never drawn with oil pastels on acrylic. Here two different brands of the pastels were used: Van Gogh and Sennelier, the former being more student-grade and the other more professional and hence pricier. Naturally Sennelier was preferred due to its silkier and even finish and being softer than Van Gogh easier to draw with and spread. However, the range of colors of Sennier are limited and thus, where the color liked was not available, I opted for Van Gogh. Turpentine is typically used to spread the color and for this painting I used the non-odor type.

Finishing It Off

Whilst in the midst of working on the painting, I decided to change the painting slightly. The bubble in which Little One was lying down resembled an uterus which was not my objective! I was also not happy with the “flower” shape in the middle and switched that to a teddy bear in a bubble, and I also introduced another cat. We also have the cute face of Little One appearing what looks like a screen monitor, how cute is that! The coloring further continued , and here it is, and it’s much better than what I had initially designed, isn’t’ it?

And what fun that was! Although they could get a bit messy on your fingers, oil pastels are worth working with. As you can see, the colors turn out so strong and vibrant with a beautiful velvety finish. The drying time, however, is one of the drawbacks as mine took several months before I could take it home from the studio. I’m still waiting for it to be fully “touchable” at home but there is no rush for me. It is just propped on the floor at the moment for all to admire and be a wonderful memory of one of the best painting classes I enjoyed the past three years. A huge thank you for hosting the classes all these years and for keeping me inspired, Dieter, and praying all goes well for you!

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