Rothko used simple geometric shapes in his paintings, but the lines that define the shapes are fuzzy and indistinct. Make a composition like Ochre and Red on Red, but with sharp, distinct lines. Is the effect different from Rothko’s painting with its soft-edged forms? What are some of the differences?
Rothko’s paintings are often described as resembling landscapes. Does Ochre and Red on Red suggest a landscape? Make a diagram identifying parts of the composition like horizon line, foreground and background.
Red is generally thought of as a warm color, which appears to advance towards the viewer. Rothko has placed red on red—two warm colors—next to one another. Make your own red on red artwork and discuss the visual effect that occurs.
Rothko’s paintings often featured a contrast between warm and cool colors. Research what colors are considered warm and cool. Does Rothko use warm and cool colors in this painting? Identify which ones are warm and cool.
Rothko was influenced by Asian art, philosophy, and religion. Compose a Japanese Haiku poem inspired by the colors and shapes of Ochre and Red on Red.
In the 1930s Rothko was employed as an artist in the Federal government’s Works Project Administration (WPA). Find out about the WPA. Write a report on this Depression-era work project, and describe the impact it had on Rothko and other American artists.
Find out about other projects sponsored by the Federal Government to counteract the effects of the Depression.