Contemporary none-objective painting by Maxim Grunin

Sunset Memory, 30"X40", oil on canvas, 2010

Even though my work has the unique qualities that belong to my personal method of painting, I am inclined to look at it's similarities with the works of the famous artists. Knowing about the origins of my work helps to understand it's relationship to art History and art practice. My paintings are reminiscent of the Abstract Expressionism that originated in the late 1940s in America. Mark Rothko's color field painting is evident at the base of my work. The soft blending of the tinted colors in my paintings is not a direct borrowing of the images of the master. It has a lot more of my intention to create moody atmospheric appearing surface in the background. I am not concerned with the bold color statement but rather with the viewer's eyes reading the transition of quiet colors. Wilhelm de Kooning's dynamic action painting is visible in my work as well. The unavoidable lively marks on top of the smooth ground in my paintings result from the vigorous strokes of a palette knife and a brush. Jackson Pollock's drip painting emerges when the paint is thrown and splattered across the canvas. I achieve a composite of several modes pioneered by the great masters of the past.


Abstract In Pink, 40"X30", oil on canvas, 2010, Maxim Grunin

Abstract In Pink, 40"X30", oil on canvas, 2010, Maxim Grunin


Making Of An Abstract Painting In Pink by Maxim Grunin. Step 1

I've already primed and stretched the canvas. Now I need to mix a variety of colors for my new abstract pink painting and cut the paint with linseed oil in order to make it blend smoother. I do the blending with a soft wide brush. It allows for exquisite mist like looking paint surface. The mixing and some of the painting  is done with a palette knife. The best way to quickly and efficiently mix paint is to move the knife in a round motion, clockwise or counter clockwise. That's why the batches of paint of my palette look like swirls.

Once I mix all of the grades of pinks that are in fact red and yellow tints, I begin to apply the paint onto my canvas. There is a warm, subtle orange that I used as an under-painting for this piece. The medium, especially oil paint, is translucent. The warmth of the orange layer will add even more subtle depth from underneath the pink layer. The color of the under-painting will also share it's properties with what is painted on top of it. Remember how hard it is to paint white over black, it will not get white until several coats of white are applied. That's because black keeps showing through. This time my work will have an increased overall warm color scheme. I have a goal in mind and it is to create a "pink" painting. I want to have a gradient of lighter and darker pink tones. I begin to apply the background coat onto a primed sanded canvas.


Making Of An Abstract Painting In Pink by Maxim Grunin. Step 2

Color value at the top is lighter. I painted that first because I want the almost white pink to be very clean, without the darker grades showing in it. Painting light areas is always done with a fresh brush otherwise the old left over colors at the top of the bristles would get into the pure one. I block the entire canvas in before starting to blend the tones together. Having the entire painting under control oppose to just working on small bits until they are done is more productive. This way I can compose and build my work as a whole. Stepping back to evaluate my progress is a must.

Background is done and now I put in the marks that introduce movement. The paint strokes are brushed at different angles with a general vertical direction. I want to feel like I am "lifting up" looking at this new painting. It seems a bit boring if the strokes would just move up and down or if they were too controlled by me. I give in to impulses to make odd gestures that produce more spontaneous strokes. Anything that comes out from underneath my brush is still governed by the physicality of the artist's body. The marks are just more or less conscious under different circumstances. In the end, I have to somehow like what I'm making. I keep an open mind and look for these wonderful discoveries about my own work as I create it.


Making Of An Abstract Painting In Pink by Maxim Grunin. Step 3

I use that soft wider brush to gently blur the entire surface of the artwork together. I really like the way the oil paint looks when it is blended this way. Gerhard Richter is my influential source for using this and other methods of moving paint. Looking at the medium blurred  in a soft misty way can be exquisitely enchanting. There is oil like fines to it. The painting I am making is largely intended as an object of decor, something to have around a living space. I want it to be pleasurable and subtle rather then a statement of artistic expression

The next task is to build up some textural, even more expressive marks. This is a job for the palette knife. I am adding new elements and colors to the smooth first layers of paint. Having life long studio experience I know, that I will always for sure understand it when my painting is complete. I am waiting for the balance the conditions of which are only known to me. Take a breather. Put the piece away. Forget all about it. Then the next day see it with the fresh eyes and voila - it either feels done or it shows me exactly what is missing.

Here are some details of the painting. The interaction between the smoothly blended ground and the more coarse raised marks enhances the depth of the painting's surface. The addition of blue-gray removes the monochromatic feel from the piece. Suddenly this painting seems more colorful. I get a precious luster of a pearl from some of the areas in the artwork. I throw some paint to produce the more accidental spills and drips. It would be ideal if this painting was quiet and poetic so that the viewer could relax around it. Being reserved when painting a piece like this is important so I don't overload it with visual information.