Contextual notes for part 4 (3): Large scale painting

In this third part I am looking how large scale works can be made.

 For all projects especially assignment work: 

Large paintings can be considered as one single large canvas like executed by

Richard Diebenkorn (1922 – 1993) with his ‘Ocean Park‘ series of very large (up to 8 1/2 to 6 1/2 feet) abstract paintings (non-gestural) as a kind “gorgeous compositions of color …I really do see them as kind of music.” (curator Sarah Bancroft in: Stamberg, 2012). Diebenkorn had his Main Street studio in Ocean Park in the Santa Monica neighbourhood in California back in the 1960s. He could see the hillside and crossing streets from his studio. His view outside was framed by the angled geometry of the large windows of his studio. Being less interested in the ocean water or the landscape as a representation and more in depiction of the airy and shimmering quality of the light he painted 145 large scale paintings between 1967 – 1988 of his Ocean park series (numbered as a series). The overal appearance of his paintings do inherit an architectural sense with his formal shapes. Diebenkorn did not applied bright saturated colors but rather muted ones— chalky pastel blues, violets, yellows, green – in a colourful vibrating harmony.
When asked how he depicted the Californian full light Diebenkorn reflected on his different approach:  “I see the light only at the end of working on a painting – gradually”. Thus he painted his way through to finding the light with painting (from audio recording at: )
His paintings were on show at the Orange County Museum of Art in 2012. Available from:

One example is ‘Ocean Park, no 24’, Oil on canvas (framed: 238.4 x 197.2 x 4.1 cm). Available from: [accessed 17 Oct 2016]

or as multi images on large scale support as done by:

John Virtue (b. 1947) a british painter who explores landscapes and how they can be represented and our human relationship to it. He considers himself rather an abstract and not a landscape painter. Most of his hard to read landscape paintings are informed by his own sketchbook drawings, at time over 100 of them.

He works monumentally but also with smaller building blocks (Drawn to the Page, 2015).
One key theme for Virtue is the expansive view on the North Sea coast, a theme very close to myself as we have our home close the dutch – german North sea coast. One question related to Virtue’s landscape painting is how we as human can position ourselves with having not clear focal point in his paintings? At times rather chaotic and at least turbulent movement of paint that may lead to the idea that this has something to do with the ‘inner emotional landscape’ . In this context quite a sublime matter.

Other works by Virtue include some of grid pen and ink multiple drawings  For North Sea coast-scapes (Lucarelli, 2014): Densely drawn landscape images with various viewpoints and assembled without spaces in between as 2×2 upto 12×12 clusters. Although one can see a small line between each image. From distance the image can be nearly perceived as one. As if there even is a meta image appearing from the small sized images.

– ‘Landscape no 624‘, 1999-2000. Acrylic paint, ink and shellac on 4 canvases
(366 x 267 x 2.5 cm) Available from:
 ‘Landscape no. 29‘, 1985-1986. Ink on sheets of paper laid down on board laid down on plywood (49) (146 x 208.9 cm.) Available from:–29/D1C0CFA6D0331229 

I summary those multiple drawings assembled together as one work makes me wonder of putting sketchbook pages together as well. But than there is the question what is the difference between a sketchbook page drawing/painting and a loose sheet or canvas drawing/painting  – if not just in my own association and barriers.

Emotional response:

While looking at the webpage (blog) by ‘Drawn to the Page‘ (Drawn to the Page, 2015) I was further fascinated by the sketchbooks laid out on display in the exhibition space. Another aspect was the curated tour described by the team who visited the exhibition. Visitors were asked to freely associate on the qualities as movement, texture, energy, flux/change, turbulence, light and dark related to Virtue’s paintings and to explore emotions, sensations, and ideas in writing. After they they were asked to draft a poem out of those words, phrases. This is something I want to try next time I am visiting a gallery or a museum. I do feel that writing down my emotional responses would enable me better to sharpen my reflective skills and to paint in such a context.

While searching for other artists working on larger scale and multiple images I came across

David Hockney (b. 1937) finding first his painting ‘Small Santa Monica & The Bay From the Mountains’, 1990. Oil (36×72 in.) as quite a different painterly approach to Diebenkorn’s depiction of the Santa Monica bay and its hillsides. Than I found that his later landscape paintings for the 00’s were quite often painted across multiple canvases or paper, showing one image.
Examples: ‘Cactus Garden III‘, 2003 – click here – on four sheets of paper (total 39 7/8 x 51 1/2 in) or ‘Bigger Trees Near Warter or/ou Peinture sur le Motif pour le Nouvel Age Post-Photographique’, 2007 – click here – on 50 canvases (total 180 x 480 in.).

An approach also taken byTacita Dean in some of her larger works e.g. ‘Fernweh‘, 2008  Photogravure (227 x 499 x 4.5 cm)- click here – or ‘Quatemary‘, 2004, 5 framed photogravures in 10 parts (240 x 710 cm) – click here.


  1 comment for “Contextual notes for part 4 (3): Large scale painting

  1. October 27, 2016 at 6:06 pm

    Somehow I lost you in the transition between blogs, but good to catch up and read the background behind your Instagram images. Wishing you much success with your imminent feedback on part 3.

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