Rosebud is an evocation of Joan Mitchell's garden in Vétheuil, France, a haven she lovingly tended. While the broken strokes and use of complementary colors in this painting may call to mind the quick brushwork of Impressionist canvases, it is devoid of representational elements. Unlike her compositions of the 1950s, in which attenuated streaks and thin smudges form centralized images, and her work from the early 1970s, in which solid blocks of color alternate with gestural areas of pigment, this later tableau develops from a lattice-like application of paint.
Here, Mitchell demonstrates another step in the evolution of her style, primarily her experimentation with figure/ground relationships. Flickering oranges and pinkish reds dominate the lower central portion and top of the canvas, suggesting perhaps a glimpse of young blossoms as seen among painted slashes of blue-violet and aqua-green foliage. The roughly vertical brushstrokes, punctuated by dabs and drips, are knit into a cohesive network that also creates a feeling of depth. As the artist explained, “The freedom in my work is quite controlled; I don't close my eyes and hope for the best.”
In this activity for adults, we'll walk you through how to make your own landscape inspired by Mitchell's Rosebud, 1977.