I Remember the Mad Men. . .

30 Sep

Starburst clocks, kidney-shaped coffee tables, and big-eyed children in Walter Keane paintings! I was “into” what’s now called “midcentury style” long before it became a craze because of the popularity of TV’s Mad Men. And that’s mainly because I’m old enough to remember when it was all cool the first time!

Yup, I grew up with this stuff, and today when I surf the net looking for midcentury memorabilia, I’m always getting little memory jogs about things I’d forgotten long ago.

Like the pencil box I had in first grade (1966) that featured a print of a Keane painting on the cover. (Two big-eyed waifs dancing to music from a record player–oops–I meant turntable.) I have no idea whatever happened to that pencil box, but I haunt Ebay and other vintage sales sites looking for its doppelganger–’cause I’m sure it’s out there somewhere!

Midcentury style definitely wasn’t at all cool in the late ’80s/early ’90s, but I created a lot of abstract watercolors in those days anyways, inspired by midcentury abstract art biggies like Robert Motherwell, Jackson Pollock, and Jasper Johns. I guess I always knew it would come back in style eventually–most things do.

The piece below is a good example of my style from that period. One of the cool things I like about it is that it features a slightly raised underpainting in white Elmer’s glue–a first grade arts ‘n crafts trick adapted to a very adult piece of work.

After the glue dried, I washed layers of watercolor over it, and the colors settled into the nooks and crannies of the glue relief and created some very cool effects. You can see the glue under-pattern pretty well in this digital photo. (Although, of course, it looks much better in real life)

“Mad Men Style” Abstract Painting, Copyright S.K. Cole, 2012. All rights reserved

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