His earliest dotted paintings of 1963-66 were created by dropping discrete quantities of paint from various distances so they would spread to form imperfect circles. He flung his paint in such a way that it splattered to form discs of color. The artist himself called his work discs or circles, but he accepted the word dots to describe his paintings. Painting number 10 ~ 1964
later “DOT” WORK became very controlled dot patterns 1970--1971
Kirkland was only 5'3" and his paintings were so large that he could not reach the center of the paintings from the sides of his worktable. So he suspended himself above. Setting above the paintings enabled Kirkland to, in a sense, submerge himself in the creation of his works. The techniques he developed required his canvas to be laid flat on a table top so that he, and not gravity, could control the flow of the paint. He poured and spooned the mixtures from baby-food jars and moved them with rags, mopping up the water when it had deposited the paint just where he wanted it. He placed each dot with a wooden dowel, dipped once in color and dabbed two, maybe three times before it required a refill.
Sadly, Kirkland was never photographed at work in his straps. His assistants staged and photographed a re-creation of the scene using fresher and narrower nylon slings to help us imagine the artist at work. Everyone who sees those now- empty straps must wonder, if just for a second, what it feels like to fly with a paint-loaded brush or dowel in their hand.
Kirkland floated mixtures of oil paint & water to onto the canvas ~ then added dots of different sizes and colors meticulously on the painting using wooden dowels
Vance Kirkland first arrived in Denver at the age of twenty-four in 1929, when he became the founding director of the Art School at the University of Denver; after graduating from Cleveland Institute of Art. He stayed at the school until 1932, when he got into a dispute with the university. They weren’t willing to give BFAs to the art students.
He instead opened the Kirkland School of Art. The first art school in Denver. Kirkland worked with University of Colorado in Denver to exchange classes with CU. Art students at Kirkland’s school then could apply their credits towards a university degree. Kirkland School of Art did so well that Kirkland was rehired in 1946. Kirkland eventually returned to the University of Denver (DU) as head of the art school and chairman of the arts & humanities dept. Kirkland remained until 1969.
Painting with dots: Kirkland style Goals / Objectives: To study Vance Kirkland’s style of painting To compare and contrast Aboriginal styles to Kirkland’s style To study pointillism and other painting with dots in art history
Process Students will paint background on heavy paper or canvas paper. May be solid or patterned. While paint is drying- students will sand their tools. –Students need to sand the ends. Get various diameters of wooden dowels –cut to 3 inch (2.5 cm) lengths- and have them sand them. If you use Q Tips- cut off the cotton. (Keep reusing the Q Tip- as the extra paint “build up” on the end adds dimension to the dotting) Take a large card board box and place painted paper inside. Mix paint to heavy cream consistency and with a water color brush (it holds more paint) splatter paint on background. Carefully remove. Mix colors and put into little containers. Start dotting creating form and lines. The painting is made up of little dots with large dots only for accents. Dots must be tight and close together to create form and lines. Color scheme and values add expressive lines and emphasis.
Vocabulary Abstract Art – art that is geometric in design or simplified from its natural appearance; abstract art does not need to look like anything real. Abstract Expressionism – two phases: Early c. 1930-45 and Classic c. 1946-60; stresses spontaneity and individuality; famous examples are Kandinsky and Pollock; paint techniques might include throwing paint; interpretations are highly imaginary. Frank Mechau painted in this style as well. Avant-garde – forward-thinking, futuristic artists who were ahead of their time in their art work. Biomorphic – shapes that appear organic, from nature. Canvas – fabric stretched over a wood frame to paint on; often refers to any surface on which paintings are created. Resist – a painting technique where one art medium resists the other; wax resists watercolor paint, for example. Kirkland mixed oil paint and water-based paint to create his abstract paintings. Surrealism – (1924-1945) an era of art expressed by fantastic imaginary thoughts and images, often expressing dreams and sub-conscious thoughts as part of reality. The most famous surrealists are Chagall, Magritte, Oppenheim, and Dali. Watercolor – thin, transparent water-soluble paint; comes in children‘s watercolor boxes, in squeeze tubes, and in dry blocks; when mixed with water, thins and is used as paint Pointillism: Creating works of art using dots.
Aboriginal Art History of Aboriginal Dot Paintings While northern Australia is known for its excellent rock art, many of which were done in the famous X-Ray style, the people of central Australia and western deserts were known for their desert sand art. They used to clear a piece of land, and “paint” a story on sand, using small rocks, flowers, feathers and seeds. All the different shapes in Aboriginal dot paintings had a meaning, and as the elders were painting pictures they sang a Dreamtime song. Young clan members were watching and listening, and learned the story from it. Sand paintings were also used during spiritual ceremonials and other religiouus rituals. Paintings on the sand didn’t of course last for long, so what there was to learn from them had to be done instantly.