Cy Twombly is an artist I have come to truly appreciate and admire over the years but it took a little reading and learning to understand the importance of his work. At first glance you see a large canvas full of scribbles but then if you keep looking more closely, and maybe learn a little bit more about the context of his work, you might see it with a new appreciation.
Twombly was born in 1928 in Virginia but lived most of his adult life in Rome. He always had a strong interest in art and his parents encouraged his creative tendencies. He pursued art as a career, studying in various different programs which led him to be introduced to abstract art and a lot of the leading artists of the time.
There were a handful of things influencing Twombly and his work. For one, he was really inspired by the rich history and stories that surrounded him in Italy. This led him to explore more about writing, the process of writing, and how we share stories. In addition to this, he was creating during the 1950s in postwar Europe. There was a feeling of needing to rebuild that was being shared and this also influenced his work.
So Twomblys work is a combination of a few different feelings and ideas - it is full of story, the process of writing (as seen in his scribbles even though nothing readable is being written), and this sense of how we rebuild and start new, which comes from making marks. Personally I feel like this idea brings a child likeness to his work; his art is his emotional response to his surroundings.
Look at some of his artwork- what do you notice? What feelings do you have?
Creating a piece inspired by Twombly has been on my list for awhile, it’s a great exploration for all ages.
Pencil, pen, charcoal, etc.
We used canvas’s but this could be done on paper or cardboard as well. First we started with a light base color to give it a nice texture and then we began layering on top with different colors and paint sticks. With the freedom to create came new ideas as well. My daughter used the bottom of a jar with some paint on it to create circles, she also experimented with flicking some paint, using her fingers, and the back of her paintbrush. We then finished up our paintings with some pencils, charcoal pencils, and pens. You can wait for your canvas to dry before drawing on top or you can do it while it’s wet and see how it makes marks in the wet paint.
As you can imagine anything goes, it is a chance for free mark making (creative exploration) without worrying about the outcome which is extremely freeing. So I suggest creating along with your young artists for a little art therapy.
This project can also be extended for multiple days and allows for layering and an invitation to continue to return to a piece and develop it further. This is a skill and takes practice.