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Untitled (ship's smokestack)
drawing, watercolour, washes, surface of the paper, foreground, background, subject matter, ship\'s smokestack, title of a painting, painting objects, detail in objects, representation of objects, composition of an artwork abstract

From 1936 on, Brunst’s work moved in two directions, according to art writer Terrence Heath. One group of Brunst’s works contains  abstractImagery which departs from representational accuracy, to a variable range of possible degrees. Abstract artists select and then exaggerate or simplify the forms suggested by the world around them.  (  paintings, some of them nonrepresentational (where natural objects are not presented realistically). The others include brightly coloured watercolours and  temperaA paint and process involving an emulsion of oil and water. It was in use before the invention of oil paints. Traditionally it involves an egg emulsion; thus the term egg tempera. The pigments or colours are mixed with an emulsion of egg yolks (removed from their sacs) or of size, rather than oil, and can be thinned and solved with water. Also known as egg tempera and temper. A varnish for tempera paints, called glair may be prepared by mixing egg whites with a little water, then beating them, and applying once the bubbles are gone. Because some of its ingredients are organic, tempera may spoil, and get very smelly. Claims have been made that when any one of the following substances are added, it reverses the growth of bacteria in tempera: benzoate of soda, bath salts, table salt, soap or cleanser such as 409, alcohol or bleach (one capful per gallon of tempera). (  washes.

Untitled (presented above) seems to combine elements of both groups of Brunst’s work: the outline of the smokestack is combined with a collection of colourful, oddly-placed objects around it. The smokestack itself lies on the  surface(an element of art) The outer or topmost boundary or layer of an object. Colours on any surface are determined by how incident rays of light strike it, and how a surface reflects, scatters, and absorbs those rays. The material qualities of a surface, as well as its form and texture further determine how it is seen and felt. ( See also texture.  of the paper, with only a few lines and a slight change in  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. (  separating it from the background. It is the other objects that give the work its sense of three-dimensional space.

What are the other objects? A ladder, a lamp post, steam whistles, ropes and the like appear around the smoke stack, but don’t seem to be “attached’ to anything. Those details are missing. Instead, Brunst seems to be exploring the  ambiguousAny idea that is not clearly stated within an art work, leaving lots of room for interpretation.  relationship that exists among real objects, our mental image of those objects, and the artist’s representation of them.

additional resources On Stanley Brunst
Duration: 2:38 min
Size: 11744kb
Things to Think About
  • What is the difference between “abstract” art and “non-representational” art?  Are they the same?  Or can there be overlap between these two forms of art?
  • What makes the piece presented here “abstract”?
Online Activity
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Look at Brunst’s original work above.

Studio Activity
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Brunst in his work Untitled (ship’s smoke stack) offers a close-up look at a ship's smokestack.  We can see many details of the smokestack and of the ship's rigging. By isolating one area, Brunst abstracts the image taking it out of the context, instead of drawing the whole ship which might have been a more traditional method. In addition, he adds various unrelated shapes that float around the smokestack. These shapes are  ambiguousAny idea that is not clearly stated within an art work, leaving lots of room for interpretation.  as to what they are or why they are there. Usually there is a ladder attached to a smokestack, but not like this one.

  • Photograph part of an object close up or from an unusual angle, or claim part of an object, from a magazine or an image found online.
  • Use your photo image as a source for a drawing. What have you abstracted?
Studio Activity
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Drawing composition

Isolating detail is a good way to learn how to create interesting  compositionArrangements of elements in a work of art.  in your drawings. One way to do this is by using a  viewfinderA small window cut in a piece of paper or card, that shows what will be in a picture's composition. Or, a window seen through a camera which shows an approximation of a picture the camera would photograph Viewfinders assist in making compositions. This is a fundamental sort of optical device. (  – go to “How to make a viewfinder” for more information on this technique. Try the following to use as models for drawings:

NOTE:  If you don't have access to a camera, you can also find free  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.  photos to work with online at the following websites:


Brunst, Stanley. Watercolours. Exhibition notes for a show at art placement inc., Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, 1983.

Christie, Robert. Watercolour Painting in Saskatchewan 1905-1980. Notes for an exhibition at the Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, 1981.

Heath, Terrence. Stanley E. Brunst/Radical Painter. Exhibition catalogue. Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, 1982.


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