‘David Smith. Field Work’ The Big Draw 2019 at Hauser & Wirth Somerset, 2019. Photo: Vincent Evans

Family Saturday at Home: Constructing Form with Paint

Why not join us for a David Smith inspired Family Saturday at Home: Constructing Form with Paint? In the late 1950s-60s the artist David Smith made paintings known as ‘Sprays’ using industrial paint from aerosol cans sprayed around objects laid down on canvas, which left behind abstract forms. This method related to Smith's practice of welding together sculptures on the floor of his workshop. The scorched silhouettes of the sculptural elements would remain visible on the floor after the sculpture had been raised upright. Smith, who was interested in breaking down the boundaries between drawing, painting and sculpture, developed this process to make painted images.

‘From our bedroom my sister and I would hear the particular rattle of his spray cans as he made drawings to jazz records. I see in these works a great sense of what I knew of my father – his love of making and constructing form’ —Rebecca Smith, June 2019

David Smith, Two Circles on Yellow and Green, 1959 © 2020 The Estate of David Smith / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY

David Smith, Circle and Parts on Central Column, 1959 © 2020 The Estate of David Smith / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY

David Smith was born in 1906 in Decatur, Indiana in the USA. He died in 1965 in Vermont aged 59 years old. Smith is regarded as one of the most influential and innovative sculptors of the twentieth century. Closely linked to the Abstract Expressionist movement, David Smith is known for his use of industrial methods and materials, and the integration of open space into sculpture. You can find out more about David Smith in our teachers resource here. For this Family Saturday at Home we will explore ways to construct abstract paintings.

You will need:

  • Large paper of any sort

  • Poster paint

  • An empty trigger spray bottle

  • Some household objects e.g. scissors, rule, hammer, a pen, a cup, etc

Activity 1: Prepare your resources

  • Find an empty household cleaner bottle and wash it out

  • Add some poster paint to the bottle and dilute it with water, give it a shake!

  • Find a selection of household objects, they must not be precious and should be washable

  • Find some large sheets of paper

‘David Smith. Field Work’ for The Big Draw 2019 at Hauser & Wirth Somerset, 2019

Construct your abstract image:

  • Arrange your objects on the paper

  • They can overlap

  • They can be put on their side

  • Stand back and spray the paint around the edges of the objects

  • Carefully remove the objects and wash them clean

Your image should have white spaces where the objects were. Can you layer your drawing by repeating it in a different colour of paint and putting the objects in different places?

Here are some great examples from David Smith Big Draw 2019:

‘David Smith. Field Work’ for The Big Draw 2019 at Hauser & Wirth Somerset, 2019

We would love to see what you create!

Can you photograph your artwork or ask someone to help you? Here are two easy ways to share your artwork with us: • Tag us on social media using @hauserwirthsomerset (Instagram) or @HWSomerset (Facebook) and use the hashtags #FamilySaturday #HWLearn

For further activities we recommend: Yorkshire Sculpture International 22 June 2019–5 January 2020, YSP Museum of Modern Art, David Smith Royal Academy of Arts, Teacher Resource; Abstract Expressionism

Family Saturdays have been a popular monthly event at Hauser & Wirth Somerset and Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles. As we continue in a new shared reality, our education team will continue to create activities connected to our exhibitions and artists – encouraging practical hands-on tasks and imaginative narratives to enjoy together as a family.