Making Mondrian


There has been a DIY page since the early 2000s which covers oil, watercolour, furniture and knitting. On this this page I intend to chronicle my own oils and also develop a page on Mondrian's own techniques and materials. See also the Mondrian Reconstructions

One thing to realise early on is that PM's pictures, when viewed close-up, are not as smooth as the designs might suggest. I was surprised at the brushwork when I saw my first Mondrian at Tate Modern - there is a good example on the cover of The Transatlantic Paintings, a detail of B320.

Note the page on Materials and Techniques.

21st October 2011
Time for an update with the first of the Reconstructions. Image on the way.
16th February 2011
The B301 is coming on nicely, though it needs a second coat here and there to cover the pencil lines. It has replaced The Collection.
27th January 2011
The B152 and B318 are now complete and hanging on the landing with the old B217

I have started work on a B301. I might have to try this a second time as the yellow does not cover the pencil lines. I started this with an overall coat of white which seems the best approach for this sort of layout. The canvas is 1m square, smaller than the 1.2m original. That original is in Paris, where I'm heading in a few weeks to see the De Stijl show.
landing My B318 My B301
19th October 2010
All first coats now on, avoiding contact with the black. The grey (in two shades) looks ok. I now have to wait a couple of weeks for it all to dry before working on the detail.

Time to progress B318: I painted the whole canvas white a few weeks ago and will soon learn whether that was a good idea.

While working on B152 and B318, the landing is currently showing my B284, a small oil done earlier this year. One of my favourite compositions, I have also made it in stained glass.
B152 landing My B284 Mondrian by Nick Blackburn
18th October 2010
The first coat of the black lines is done. A canvas that large is difficult to store safely and so I have attached it to The Collection.

Some colour tomorrow, I expect. Apart from the three colours, there is a mixture of white and grey segments: I'm not sure whether to make these all white. I'll probably try grey and retain the option of overpainting in white for the final version.
17th October 2010
I have started work on the B152, using a rather large (60x60cm) canvas as it was the only square one in my (poorly-supplied) local art supply shop. But large is good, and the original is 77x77.

When you start drawing the lines, you soon realise the simple and elegant complexity of the design: the line arrowed is the key to the composition as it controls the two small colour segments. Getting the position and width of the black lines is tricky and achieving 45° is also troublesome (at least I find it so).

Having started painting the black lines, another good thing about a large canvas is that it matches the accuracy of my technique. After trying a few small canvases with acrylics, I concluded that: 1. acrylics are less satisfying than oils; 2. I am not capable of painting straight lines accurately on that scale. Oils take an astonishing time to dry, though: a week on average and a fortnight for the red I'm using.
B152 B152
13th October 2010
Well, I've been tinkering with several Mondrians lately but have failed to log my progress here. The first image is my B217, painted several years ago (2005?). This is currently hanging on our upstairs landing and intend to paint B152 and B318 to join it. After that, I'll turn my attention to repainting the Lost Works.
My B217
5th February 2011
I'll add this entry out of calendar sequence. I have just found my first Mondrian, rather battered, which establishes that my interest has been running since at least the 1980s. It is photographed against a wall which has the same design.

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page started 27th August 2010