Environmental Matters

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Toxic Pool Group III
stagnant water, toxic water, London Ontario, contemplation, illusion of depth, environment, pigment, palette, complexity, mortality, meditation, peril, painting as contemplation, studio as research, painting as research, discovery of world, searching for place in world, colour, anxiety, creating mood effects with colour, stagnant pool, toxicity, colour palette, Thames River, London Ontario,painting series, oil painting,
description

The Toxic Pool Group  seriesA number of things or events standing or succeeding in order, and connected by a like relation; sequence; order; course; a succession of things; as, a continuous series of calamitous events. (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)  of paintings was inspired, if that is the right word, by a stagnant pool of water Kirton observed near the Thames River in London, Ontario. His observations of this pool led Kirton to engage in a mental process he calls contemplation.

start quotePainting for me is a form of contemplation. My work starts with the perception of things seen and sensations felt. Proceeding in the studio allows me to internalize and clarify all of this information in a personal way and in doing so I hope to convey the complexity of my experience. Above all, painting is my research tool; the way I discover the world and my place in it.end quote-- Doug Kirton (Nixon 2007)

Kirton writes that he took a low, uncertain viewpoint in his Toxic Pool Group paintings, “…establishing an effect of anxiety, which I hope is reinforced by the  paletteA slab of wood, metal, marble, ceramic, plastic, glass, or paper, sometimes with a hole for the thumb, which an artist can hold while painting and on which the artist mixes paint. Anything from ice trays to disposable paper or Styrofoam plates might be used as a palette. A pane of glass with a white piece of paper attached to its underside makes a fine palette. It's especially versatile because the color of the paper back can be made to match a painting's ground, making colors easier to choose. The term "palette" may also refer to the range of colors used in a particular painting or by a particular artist. (artlex.com)  of acerbic, yet harmonized colours (cerulean and phthalocyanine blue, lemon yellow,  alizarin redOriginally a bright red pigment, also called madder lake, made from madder, derived from the root of the plant Rubia tinctorum. Alizarin now generally refers to a pigment and a class of dyes derived from anthraquinone — synthetic coal-tar — and is used in the manufacture of blue, brown, green, red, violet, and yellow pigments.  (Artlex.com)  Also see “Pigments through the Ages on cerulean blue” http://www.webexhibits.org/pigments/indiv/overview/alizarin.html  and sap green), and the aggressive application and scraping of  impastoA thick or lumpy application of paint, or deep brush marks (brushstrokes), as distinguished from a flat, smooth paint surface. May also refer to a thick application of pastel. (Artlex.com)  pigment with the knife.” (personal correspondence, February 5, 2008)

Kirton adds that his intent was to create an  illusionA deceptive or misleading image or idea. (Artlex.com)  of depth in the painting, and at the same time a feeling of subdued or even fading light in the scene. Toxic Pool Group III “…for me is a statement on the perilous circumstances of our environment – and a more general  analogyA comparison between things based upon observations of a significant similarity between them, while acknowledging that they are otherwise dissimilar. Makers of analogies generally infer that if these things are so similar then they are probably alike in other ways. Analogies are usually made to illustrate or explain complex or unfamiliar ideas. Any things similar or alike in such a way as to permit the drawing of an analogy may be called analogous. Analogy is a basic component of symbolism. (Artlex.com)  for, and meditation on, mortality.”

additional resources Things to Think About
  • Can you think of a situation where you internalized information and then expressed your experience in a personal way through writing, drawing, or some other creative way?
  • What was your reaction to the colours Kirton used in Toxic Pool Group III? Why do you think you reacted that way? Do you think Kirton wanted you to react that way? Why?
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Kirton deliberately uses  acerbicSour or severe.  (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)  colours to suggest the  toxicOf or pertaining to poison; poisonous; as, toxic medicines.  (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)  nature of the pool. For example, he lists:

  • cerulean blue
  • phthalo blue
  • lemon yellow
  • alizeron crimson
  • sap green.

Look at the  colourProduced by light of various wavelengths, and when light strikes an object and reflects back to the eyes. Colour is an element of art with three properties: (1) hue or tint, the colour name, e.g., red, yellow, blue, etc.: (2) intensity, the purity and strength of a colour, e.g., bright red or dull red; and (3) value, the lightness or darkness of a colour. When the spectrum is organized as a color wheel, the colours are divided into groups called primary, secondary and intermediate (or tertiary) colours; analogous and complementary, and also as warm and cool colours. Colours can be objectively described as saturated, clear, cool, warm, deep, subdued, grayed, tawny, mat, glossy, monochrome, multicolored, particolored, variegated, or polychromed. Some words used to describe colours are more subjective (subject to personal opinion or taste), such as: exciting, sweet, saccharine, brash, garish, ugly, beautiful, cute, fashionable, pretty, and sublime. Sometimes people speak of colours when they are actually refering to pigments, what they are made of (various natural or synthetic substances), their relative permanence, etc. (Artlex.com)   paletteA slab of wood, metal, marble, ceramic, plastic, glass, or paper, sometimes with a hole for the thumb, which an artist can hold while painting and on which the artist mixes paint. Anything from ice trays to disposable paper or Styrofoam plates might be used as a palette. A pane of glass with a white piece of paper attached to its underside makes a fine palette. It's especially versatile because the color of the paper back can be made to match a painting's ground, making colors easier to choose. The term "palette" may also refer to the range of colors used in a particular painting or by a particular artist. (artlex.com)  below and match the descriptions with their colour.  To do this:

Studio Activity

Kirton’s paintings of  toxicOf or pertaining to poison; poisonous; as, toxic medicines.  (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)  pools recall the late paintings of Claude Monet’s garden pond. This is an example of the way in which the essence and understanding of  paintingWorks of art made with paint on a surface. Often the surface, also called a support, is either a tightly stretched piece of canvas or a panel. How the ground (on which paint is applied) is prepared on the support depends greatly on the type of paint to be used. Paintings are usually intended to be placed in frames, and exhibited on walls, but there have been plenty of exceptions. Also, the act of painting, which may involve a wide range of techniques and materials, along with the artist's other concerns which effect the content of a work. (Artlex.com)  as a means to interpret the world we live in, are transferred from one era to another. Painting is an old technology and  contemporaryCurrent, belonging to the same period of time. Usually referring to our present time, but can refer to being current with any specified time. (Artlex.com)  painters are always aware of its history. Doug Kirton explains how he uses new technology through  digitalA system of representing images or objects through numbers. These numbers can then be re-interpreted by another digital system to generate light and sound.  photography and software to capture light and create an  atmosphereThe portion of air in any locality, or affected by a special physical or sanitary condition; as, the atmosphere of the room; a moist or noxious atmosphere. (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary).  Also, the gaseous envelope surrounding the earth; the air. The dominant mood or emotional tone of a work of art, as of a play or novel: the chilly atmosphere of a ghost story.   for his work. How is this different from the way in which Monet worked?

Visit the following links to find out more about Monet’s garden:

Focus on an environmental theme and create an artist's book around that theme.  Here are some examples of books made by artists to give you some ideas on how to get started:

Think about what you want to convey and how. In your planning, consider:

  • Consider the type of papers you might use - will you use recycled papers?
  • digital photographs including altered photos
  • transparent and shiny materials and tissue papers that simulate the look and movement of water
  • watercolour painting
  • poetry/text
  • newspaper/magazine pictures or information on issues pertaining to water.
  • For some ideas to help you, go to: 
Studio Activity

Create paintings of water or of underwater scenes. Think about light, reflected colours, and movement.

Look at painters who painted water in their own different ways:

References
Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning