Beading with the Masters: Wassily Kandinsky

Wassily Kandinsky, Russian painter and art theorist, was one of the first painters to produce Abstract Art. His passion for art and art theory led him to abandon his career in law and economics education at the age of 30 and follow his dreams instead. His story as an artist is one fraught with conflict and drama, since he was innovating new ideas in art—a very dangerous occupation at the time, between World War I, The Russian Revolution, and World War II. He taught at the Bauhaus school of art and architecture in Germany from 1922 until 1933 when the Nazis shut it down.

I’m an art geek and love exploring art history. I’ve been enjoying learning what inspired artists’ work and tapping into their stories. I’ve selected my favorite notable artists, and in the month of their birth I’ll share their stories with you, and draw correlations between them and beaded jewelry design.

If you’re into art history, too, be sure to check my previous article about artist Georgia O’Keeffe, or read the entire Beading with the Masters series to get all caught up with what I’ve shared so far!

Featured Image: Kandinsky’s On White II (photo: Musée national d’art moderne), Brown with Supplement, and The Lyrical, (photos: Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen) accompanied by the Ondina Bracelet by Debora Hodoyer, the Carnival in Rio Necklace by Glorianne Ljubich, and the Serpentine Cuff by Marie New.

Abstract Forms

Abstract Art as a movement developed as Wassily Kandinsky’s work progressed through his expressionistic beginnings, through his Blue Rider Period, and metamorphosized into the purely abstract work for which he is best known. Beadwork as an artistic medium can lend itself to Abstract Art, as beads can be assembled and formed into just about anything the artist can dream up! Here are a few of my favorite abstracted beading patterns:

Wassily Kandinsky

These beading patterns use abstracted form to achieve a certain look.

Use of Color

Wassily Kandinsky’s most famous paintings feature bold color to convey his message and evoke certain feelings from the viewer. In his text, Über das Geistige in der Kunst, he discusses color theory and ideas about what certain colors can evoke emotionally from their viewer. For instance: a yellow surface seems to move to the foreground, and a blue surface fades into the background. The combination of blue and yellow—green—negates the movement and has a very calming effect. Beadwork, too, uses color to tell a story or incite an emotional response.

Wendy Leuder’s Sunset Spiral Necklace uses a warm gradient of colors to convey a feeling of a beautiful sky at sunset. Penny Dixon’s Yafa Petal Earrings use bold primary colors to accent their Middle-Eastern styling. The Ondina Bracelet by Debora Hodoyer uses color to evoke the underwater realms of the bracelet’s namesake—a water nymph from French folk tales. The blend of bright colors in Beth A. Moser’s Modern Mandalas Necklace are a tribute to the Hindu and Buddhist roots behind the mandala symbol.

Wassily Kandinsky

Bead artists use color to tell a story.

Art Theory

One of the topics that Wassily Kandinsky spent a lot of his artistic energy expounding on was art theory. His two major books on art theory, Concerning the Spiritual in Art and Point and Line to Plane go in-depth about ideas on use of color and form in painting. Art theory is not a subject for painting alone! The ideas presented in art theory can be found in all forms of art, including beadwork. A bead artist can use color theory in selecting colors, and use shapes and forms to create a certain message.

The Es-O Express Cuff by Cecil Rodriguez uses complementary colors that could have been picked right off of the color wheel to create a bold and attractive pallete. Christina Neit’s Line ‘Em Up Bracelet also employs complementary colors in more muted, earthy hues to achieve a look that is cheerful and sophisticated at the same time.

The Serpentine Cuff by Marie New uses line and form to create playful movement and excitement. Jill Wiseman’s Pick Up Sticks Bracelet features different lengths of colorful parallel lines on one plane, and has a more orderly linear feel.

Wassily Kandinsky

Art theory can be applied to all forms of art, including beadwork.

Kandinsky’s legacy is a testament to sticking to it and following your dreams. He started practicing art in adulthood, was rejected from art school at first, but kept on going. He heeded the call to express himself artistically. Whether you pick up a paint brush, a musical instrument, a computer keyboard, or a beading needle—I hope Kandinsky’s perseverance inspires you to practice your art!

Meredith Steele
Technical Editor, Beadwork magazine

Create some wearable beaded art with these patterns!


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