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Terrell James
Line in Painting and Drawing

Session Two - June 18-24, 2017

Course Description
In two dimensional artwork, line is an important source of energy and compositional direction, serving sometimes to evoke alchemical processes - coagulating, dissolving, transmuting, and sublimating. Colors and line can be separators, or unifiers, or both, as we see in Matisse’s drawn hand suspended over two patches of opposing color. Line can define a thing as shape, or be suspended in a fluid medium, never quite crystallizing into measurable, identifiable forms. In that case, space is no longer quantifiable emptiness, but the residue of the organic exchange between tonal values. Here color comes into play, value, tone, all engaged by the overlay of line work. We will use line in drawing and water-based painting, acrylic, watercolor, on paper or canvas, while looking at the way artists like Max Beckmann, Picasso, Twombly, Mitchell, and more contemporary artists employ line to enliven the whole. The work will include a variety of approaches, from representational to abstract. Visual examples will be presented in class, and various approaches will be suggested and explored, with examples provided.

Artist's Biography
Terrell James lives and works in Houston, Texas. Primarily a painter, she has also worked in clay, bronze, steel, and printmaking. Exhibitions of her work have been in venues such as museums in Hong Kong, Beijing, and Shenzhen, China, as well as in galleries and museums in the Middle East and U.S. Her teaching includes the Glassell School of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and Rice University, Houston. She sometimes writes and organizes exhibitions.

Terrell has been named Texas Artist of the Year in 2016 by the Art League of Houston, and will have solo exhibitions, with catalogues produced, at the Art League September 30- November 14, at Cadogan Contemporary in London October 25 - November 13, and at the Froelick Gallery in Portland, Oregon November 3- December 14. Recently, James has co-curated a traveling exhibition by the NY based collective, French Neon, which will close at Homeland Houston, then travel to Portland and Beijing. Museum collections of James’s work include the Menil Collection, Houston, the Museums of Fine Art, Boston, Dallas, Houston, and Portland, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

To elucidate the role of line in James’s work, we may examine an excerpt from Surpik Angelini’s essay from 2008 here: James’s handling of line is biomorphic, sharing some common traits with Joseph Beuys. She explores a genre of drawing that flows automatically from the subconscious, a technique initiated by Andre Masson and Henri Michaux in the early Twentieth Century. Though the artist speaks frequently of her interest in observing landscape and living organisms, her gestural strokes are rarely representational. Instead, James’s lines evoke, as stated before, a range of processes and essences: mineral (fissures, cracks, break lines), liquid (ripples, waves, drips), growth lines in plants, locomotion in animals, insects.

Artist's Statement
I have drawn rocks, fossils, and bones since my girlhood in Houston. I had two collections, one of shells and one of rocks. I loved the idea that, in any common stone, you hold the history of earth, our home, in the palm of your hand. The crack in rock can suggest the very movement of the earth, plate tectonics, how we evolve. Vast inland seas have advanced and receded many times between 1500 million years ago. Fossils form sediment, and eventually "migrate" from ocean bed to mountaintop as tectonic forces shift, collide, and peel. Since my early study, I have been interested in the fact of a fossil: for me this revelatory meaning parallels self-knowledge through the unconscious: process, games, chance, evocation.

As a painter, I have recently shifted my focus from nature and an abstracted, internalized landscape, to a new investigation of shape and form. For the last few years, I have been interested in re-engaging line in my painting, bringing its energy and definition to space, to painted space.

My work often refers to the process of painting. The game of chance is also an element in my approach. I value evocation, traces, imprints, over depiction.

Website: Terrell James

Supply List
Some suggestions, none absolutely required:
  • Charcoal
  • Ink
  • Pen
  • Sponges and sponge sticks from the paint store
  • Mark making tools such as brushes and sticks
  • Q-tips
  • Containers for water
  • Paper -- could be gessoed ahead of time, or as is
  • Sized or gessoed cloth
  • Pre-stretched canvas if preferred
  • Palette
  • Pastels
  • Conte crayon
  • Acrylic
  • Watercolor
  • Any water soluble paint

In short, with the idea that we will be working with line and color, bring materials that you want to use, including, but not limited to, the materials mentioned above.

Begin your application process now!

Terrell James

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