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Brushstroke with Splatter

At first glance from a distance, Roy Lichtenstein’s artwork “Brushstroke with Splatter” (1966) looks like random strokes from a large paintbrush on top of a red background. But the closer I looked I realized several interesting things about the painting which makes it more worthy to be looked at and appreciated. All of the lines in the painting are curved although the blue image that cuts across from the lower left side to the upper right side of the painting seems to form a straight line.

The image of the blue splatter near the center seems to explode, causing streaks of blue lines to spread in at least four primary directions. The lines of the yellow image which appears to be a brushstroke move in a non-linear manner. That is, the lines of the image, especially the brushstroke near the bottom of the canvass, appear to move like wave. Moreover, the two yellow brushstrokes are joined together by black lines, both which are bold perhaps for emphasis against the background.

The larger yellow brushstroke can be said to have been painted from the right side going to the left side of the painting due to the smaller lines at the left end or side of the image which create the effect of a single stroke done in a waving manner. As far as the colors are concerned, the painting only makes use of the primary colors along with the color black used for outlining the images formed. The red background—apparently in dots against another white background—is not heavily colored which, in effect, creates a lighter sensation to the eyes, further revealing the foreground images.

The black outline of the images highlight the yellow strokes and the blue splatters as it tends to separate and further distinguish one from the other. The painting’s composition is shared by at least three big shapes and a number of smaller images which are apparently the blue splatters. Balance is achieved through the placement of the splatters across the middle segment of the painting going upwards, the bigger yellow ‘brushstroke’ close to the bottom and the smaller yellow brushstroke near the upper right portion of the painting.

Much of the painting’s space is consumed by the red background with only about a quarter of the space occupied by splatters and brushstrokes. In effect, it evokes a sense of detachment between the objects or that the objects appear to float in space. Although the images are outlined with heavy black color and the yellow and blue colors of the images create a strong impression on the eyes, the overall texture of the painting looks smooth due to the use of colors.

The colors blue and yellow are solid and are not mixed with any other color, suggesting a fine texture without the interference and intermixing of other colors. The painting’s depth can be seen in terms of the overlapping of the light red background and the solid-colored foreground objects—the blue splatter is on top of the yellow brushstroke which is in turn on top of the light red background, thereby adding the dimension of depth.

Moreover, the bright yellow color of the brushstrokes against the heavy black outlines suggests depth in the brushstroke as well. Finally, there are no obvious organic shapes in the painting. However, with a little use of the imagination, the yellow brushstroke near the bottom can be interpreted as a yellow ocean wave or a range of mountains. The blue splatter can be interpreted as the explosion of the yellow volcano on the left side of the brushstroke.

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