Michaela Yearwood-Dan is known for her abstract paintings, her distinctive mastery of colour, and for the way she incorporates—and celebrates—a chorus of different references, telling stories that speak simultaneously of the past and the present.
Based in London and represented by Tiwani Contemporary, Yearwood-Dan is leading a ten-week course, Exploring Abstract Art, at Elephant Academy, from January 2021. Yearwood-Dan tells us more about the course she has designed for Elephant and what students can expect.
Your course is titled Exploring Abstract Art. Why?
Because that’s what we’ll be doing! Essentially, I think that’s what I want the students to be able to do: to explore the genre of abstract art and to take that exploration from the academic through to the different and varied techniques and approaches to the genre. We’ll be looking at other artists, practising some of the methods other artists have used, but students from there will be developing their own.
Who are some of the artists you’ll be referencing in the course?
We’ll be looking at all the big names briefly—except Pollock! So Eileen Agar, Hilma Af Klint, Georgia O’Keefe and Frida Kahlo for their approach… women and artists who haven’t offended me personally as a black woman out the OG crew! But we will also touch on Matisse and Kandinsky, and I’ll be introducing some of my peers, friends of mine such as Rachel Jones and Chloe Lawrence.
“We’ll be looking at all the big names briefly—except Pollock! So Eileen Agar, Hilma Af Klint, Georgia O’Keefe and Frida Kahlo”
Music is an important part of your own practice; will that be part of your course too?
John Cage will be in there, as he’s the obvious for demonstrating the movement between music and art, but I want to look at and respond to the music I like, so probably some jazz, and classical lo-fi hip-hop.
Each student who signs up to the courses at Elephant Academy will receive a box of all the supplies they’ll be using: what have you selected for your course?
We’ve got Winsor and Newton professional gouache, Galleria acrylics, Rich Tones set pro-markers, pastels, canvases, paper, newsprint—and old issues of Elephant magazine. I’ve chosen primary sets for the paints, so we’ll be using yellows, reds, blues, greens, ochre, white and black. I will be showing students how to mix colours and how to pair and match colours, with tips and artists to look at for inspiration around colour.
Can you give us a sneak peek into some of the classes you’re planning?
We’ll be doing collage workshops which will be fun. We will also be making drawing tools from household items to explore mark-making: think Matisse painting with a broom from his bed! I’ve also got a movement life-drawing class planned where a friend of mine will dance for us, and we’ll be painting both the negative space and the continuous movement. This course is all about introducing different approaches to abstract space, to viewing paper, and building up visual narratives and an artistic language through the medium of painting.
Thank you Michaela!
All images courtesy of the artist and Tiwani Contemporary
Exploring Abstract Art with Michaela Yearwood-Dan
Elephant Academy, 18 January to 29 March 2021EXPLORE NOW