In one of Austin Kleon’s recent email newsletters, he shares about David Hockney being a quarantine icon. Reading this confirmed just how appropriate inspiration Hockney’s work is for this lockdown season. It is worth mentioning, too, that David Hockney, while self-quarantined in Normandy, France, continues to make art and shares his work online. I love his recent painting of daffodils titled, Do Remember They Can’t Cancel Spring, which is a cheerful and hopeful piece for these trying times. He even suggests that “…people could draw at this time…Question everything…” and continued to say,
“…really look hard at something and think about what they are really seeing… We need art, and I do think it can relieve stress. What is stress? It’s worrying about something in the future. ART IS NOW.”
Again with being in the moment and embracing what is now. It’s refreshing and emboldening! So without further ado, let me share two more Hockney inspired projects my girls and I did together that helped us just savor the present as well as stave off the boredom. (I hear every parent’s cry for help out there, am I right?)
Like before, we only use materials you will most likely already have lying around in your home.
PROJECT 2: POOL PARTY
Materials: Paper, Crayons or Oil Pastels, Watercolor
David Hockney is known for his fascination of painting swimming pools. It is probably because pools represent a place that is very close to his heart — California. The wide open spaces, inescapable sunshine and laid-back lifestyle are well depicted in these pieces. When you look more closely at the pools themselves, you see that the the playful ripples brilliantly capture the movement of water and the way sunlight hits its surface.
The girls and I made our own renditions of Hockney’s pools by doing a watercolor resist method and here’s how:
- Using crayons or oil pastels draw yourself swimming on a piece of paper. Make sure you are wearing swimwear in the drawing. Feel free to add goggles, flippers and snorkles too!
- With a white crayon or oil pastel, draw ripples and swirls around your drawing of yourself. I know you don’t see it but later on, we’ll do a trick to make those appear.
- Once your’re satisfied with your ripples and swirls, get some blue and green waterolor, mix it up and then paint right on top of the white ripples. As you do that, you will see the white crayon resist the watercolor and appear more vividly, creating an effect similar to sunlight hitting the surface of a swimming pool. Cool, huh?
PROJECT 3: POP ART PORTRAITS
Materials: Paper, Coloring and Drawing tools, Scissors and Construction Paper (optional)
Close to three years ago, David Hockney did an exhibition in Los Angeles called 82 Portraits and 1 Still-life. It showed intimate snapshots of the people Hockney came across with and became very good friends with through the years. All the portraits have the same vibrant blue background and were all painted within the same time frame of three days.
But what is really striking about this exhibition is how he seemed to have captured the unique personalities of his subjects. This can only be a product, not only of close observation and remarkable painting skills, but also of genuine human connection.
Portraiture is definitely something that requires immersion in the moment and close attention to detail. Although my kids often draw each other, seldom do they draw each other right in the moment. So we tried it and though it was a little challenging, it turned out to be a fun excercise.
- Group yourselves into two. If you are alone doing this (and that’s perfectly alright!), you can choose yourself as the subject.
- Make sure you are facing your partner (or a reflection of yourself). Get a piece of paper and beginning with the face, notice every detail of your partners features. Best to sketch with a pencil as you are observing.
- Take note of the clothes, accessories and anything else your partner is holding. Notice any visible moles, birthmarks or tattoos. How does his or her hair fall? Try to capture these small details.
- It is perfectly fine if your partner keeps moving as long as he or she stays in the same general area. Your partner is there to draw you too after all. Pick a pose for him or her that sticks to you the most. Is she seated most of the time? Then best to draw her seated. Is it easier for you to draw her on her feet? Then it’s perfectly fine to do just that.
- Once you are done with the sketch, you can go straight to coloring using any coloring tool you like or you can use a black marker to create a clearer outline.
- This is optional but if you want a vibrant background similar to Hockney’s 82 Portraits, you can simply color the areas surrounding the portait or you can also do what we did. Cut out the portrait and paste it on a plain and bright colored construction paper. We chose two different colors each — one for the wall and another for the floor. The girls added their own details by sticking other elements into the picture like a chair or a painting.
I absolutely love how these portraits turned out!
This concludes our exploration of David Hockney’s art…for now. I’m sure his work will keep coming up as we make art together at home. I do hope you enjoy and find comfort in the present as you try these activities.
In case you missed it, here is Part 1 of Being In The Moment With David Hockney: