Menai Bridge Abstract Painting

Menai Bridge Abstract
Menai Bridge Abstract (Acrylic on Canvas 32cm x 40cm)

I’m now on week 4 of the Museum of Modern Art‘s course “In the Studio: Postwar Abstract Painting” hosted by Coursera in which students are encouraged to attempt paintings in the styles of Barnett Newman, Willem de Kooning and other artists from The New York School of Abstract Expressionists.

The course is presented by Corey D’Augustine who as an art conservator, technical art historian, and artist himself does a fantastic job of making the course interesting, informative and fun, even for an aspiring figurative artist like me who has always struggled to properly appreciate abstract art.

The course is free (unless you choose the option to earn a certificate) and is highly recommended.

Above is my attempt to investigate and apply Barnett Newman‘s techniques in my own work. Newmann, together with Mark Rothko and others, championed Colour Field painting (as opposed to the Action Painting of Jackson Pollock et al).

Newmann also developed what he called ‘zips’, or lines, running across the painting in an effort to subvert the perceptual concept of ‘figure and ground‘.

I’ve attempted to apply those techniques of colour fields and ‘zips’ in a landscape painting of Menai Bridge, albeit that the idea of a landscape may be at odds with the principles of Abstract Expressionism. I also stuck a piece of torn and painted corrugated cardboard on to represent one of the pillars as a play on the idea of figure-ground relationships in space and as a nod to Newman’s painting called ‘The Wild‘, which, bizarrely, is 243cm tall but just 4cm wide!

More resources and info relating to Barnett Newmann can be found at

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