Edward Hopper: Color and Contrast

 

A great luxury and pleasure in retirement is having as much time as I want to read and think. I’m re-reading art books I’ve not touched in years and am finding new insights about why some artists resonate with me so strongly.

In addition to Richard Diebenkorn, I admire the work of American painter, Edward Hopper (1882-1967).

Two of Hopper’s most famous figurative works, Chop Suey (1929) and Nighthawks (1942), may be familiar to you.

His later works, including Rooms by the Sea (1951) and Sun in an Empty Room (1963), present strong lights and shadows in simpler, almost abstract ways which remind me of Diebenkorn’s Ocean Park series. Hopper was the older of the two notable artists, and it’s more than possible that Diebenkorn was aware of and influenced by Hopper’s work. I like to think so.

Both artists are in my mind these days. I love the Diebenkorn abstracts and Hopper’s bold colors and values. As I begin to draw and paint again after many years, I struggle to make the right value contrasts and my palette is beginning to feel a bit timid. But I draw courage from Hopper’s powerful and stunning use of color, light and shadow.

In this watercolor study, I imagined Hopper’s Rooms by the Sea through a Diebenkorn ‘lens.’  In doing so, I learned that I still need to work on my values contrasts, and I need more confidence with color and form.

hopper-4

Artists Wolf Kahn and Josef Rafael also inspire me and I will write about them in future posts.

Who influences your work?

 

 

Who are your creative influencers?

I’ve always admired American painter Richard Diebenkorn (1922 – 1993) and today I was struck to recognize his influence on some artwork I created years ago in a totally different medium.

Diebenkorn’s Ocean Park series series has long fascinated me for reasons I don’t fully understand. But one of our first purchases as a young couple was a framed Diebenkorn poster featuring his 1970 painting, Ocean Park #29. We’d just moved into our first apartment in a small college town and though money was tight, we splurged on some art for our walls.

Fortunately, the Diebenkorn poster survived many moves and currently hangs in my ‘studio.’ So it was very convenient to use as a reference for my first watercolor pencil exploration.

I hoped that by recreating #29 in a very small size and a different medium, I could quickly practice drawing, try out the pencils and understand more about why this particular painting charms me so. Why was Diebenkorn using this color next to that? What was his purpose using the diagonal while line? How does he blend his colors and lines?

Though Diebenkorn worked in oils for his OP series, I was also eager to see whether I could hold a firm edge between various watercolors while still making something painterly.

In my homage to Mr. Diebenkorn, below, my jewel tones evoke transparency and light.

deibenkorn-homage-1

I based another sketch, below, on his Ocean Park #79 (1975).

Reinterpreting the Diebenkorns does not make my qiuck sketches original art. But studying them in this way has simply helped me learn more about his work and how I might apply what I’ve learned in the future.

deibenkorn-homage-2

However, this morning, as I was dusting off and browsing through some old design sketchbooks from my jewelry making days, I could see his influence in my series of cloisonne enameled pins/brooches and pendants. These three pieces relate to his work, but I never realized that until today.

enameled-jewels

Perhaps our influencers affect us differently at various times in our lives.

Whose influence fuels your creativity?