Talking Pictures is an online resource for children and their adults based on artwork from the Crawford Art Gallery Collection. We will share creative prompts for happy talk and play every Wednesday.
This piece was created by Tony O’Malley who was an artist from Kilkenny. Tony O’Malley spent some time with the artistic community in Cornwall, England in the 1960’s where he learned about abstract painting.
This painting is titled Early Morning, Bahamas and was painted in 1986.
What comes into your mind when you think of The Bahamas? It is a country in the West Indies, north of Cuba. The Bahamas has white sandy beaches, palm trees and crystal blue water. A tropical paradise! Can you see this in O’Malley’s painting? The cracks in the paint make it look hot, like the canvas has been baked.
This painting is abstract, which means it tells a story through colour, lines and loose shapes. The picture is not instantly clear so instead we use our intuition and our gut feelings to make sense of it.
The artist Tony O’Malley said “Abstraction does enable you to get under the surface, to get beyond appearance, and to express the mind.” So let’s get under the surface of Early Morning, Bahamas.
What do you think the blue in the painting represents? It is a bright turquoise colour, almost shimmering.
What do you think the yellow is? And the lilacs, blues and pinks in the centre?
What shapes can you see in the painting? There is a deep red, earthy block on the right of the painting which has a textured look. Next to that in the corner there are smaller pieces of blue with grey blobs. These look like objects - maybe they are buildings?
Let’s see if we can find objects, plants or flowers to match each colour below. You can draw the squares of colour on a piece of paper and explore your home for the objects. Safe hunting!
Colour is very important in abstract art. Colours can conjure feelings from just looking at them and they often have strong ideas attached to them too.
Imagine you are in a blue room, how does this feel for you? Sadness is normally associated with the colour blue, but it can also represent the mind and clarity. The sea and sky are often painted blue. These are two places that we often think of as peaceful and deep.
Colour means different things across different cultures. In Ireland when Catholic children make their Holy Communion they wear white, as this symbolises light and purity. In India, white is associated with death because it is seen as the absence of colour. In West African countries like gbbGhana, red symbolises death and the colour blue is associated with love. What colour do you associate with love?
Now let’s try and make an abstract composition like Tony O’Malley’s picture of The Bahamas. You can use your earlier objects from the colour hunt and arrange them on the table in front of you.
Start with filling in the colours of these objects on a page. Don’t outline the objects, just fill in the space with their loose shapes and colours.
Once you have this skeleton, fill up the sides and background. Take a second, close your eyes and try to imagine what colours you are feeling today. Is the sun coming through the window warming the room? Is it chilly and damp? How has your day been so far? Maybe it’s been awful and you just want to put down a big mess. Fill the page from your heart and you will connect to the heart of others.
When you are finished, take a step back and look at your picture. Do those colours feel right for your mood? How do you feel looking at them now?
Share them with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using the #crawfordartgalleryhomelife.
Talking Pictures: Early Morning Bahamas was devised by Annie Forrester
Emmet Place, Cork, Ireland
Tel: 021 480 5042
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