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home > Learning Activities and Art Projects > Bright Ideas > Bright Idea


Perfect for Valentine's Day, take a look at how artist Jim Dine transforms a simple image into bold and colorful paintings and drawings! How many times can YOU paint or draw a hearts, or hearts, each time creating a different composition!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Jim Dine, American Painter and Sculptor, 1936-

I have always been fascinated by the art of Jim Dine, ever since I saw some works from his bathrobe series at a local museum. Having just started art school at the time, I was intrigued with the idea of choosing an object, such as a bathrobe, to be symbolic of oneself. Of course, Van Gogh had his chairs, but maybe I was more intrigued because Dine is from Ohio and he is still alive and working. His work is certainly more complicated than the mere rendering of common objects, such as tools, robes, hands and hearts, but I know that these are one of the reasons I am attracted to his work. We are all invited to look beyond the obvious, to look deeper and inside, and his work is a fine invitation indeed!

When I think of Valentine's Day, I always think of Dine's hearts. Here are just a few of his works of hearts; I hope that you find them inspiring to create some colorful and creative drawings or paintings of your own!

"Drawing is not an exercise. Exercise is sitting on a stationary bicycle and going nowhere. Drawing is being on a bicycle and taking a journey." ~ Jim Dine, "Putting Down Marks (my life as a draftsman)," in Judith Brodie, Drawings of Jim Dine, 2004.

“My attitude towards drawing is not necessarily about drawing. It's about making the best kind of image I can make, it's about talking as clearly as I can.” ~ Jim Dine

"For me, drawing is everything because it informs everything. It even informs my poetry. It's the way I begin everything." ~ Jim Dine

More About Jim Dine

Born in 1935 at Cincinnati, Ohio, he studied at the University of Cincinnati and at the Boston School of Fine and Applied Arts in Boston, Massachusetts from 1953 to 1957. In 1957 he received a bachelor of fine arts degree from Ohio University. Dine incorporated images of everyday objects in his art, but he diverged from the coldness and impersonal nature of pop art by making works that fused personal passions and everyday experiences. His repeated use of familiar and personally significant objects, such as tools, robes, hands and hearts, is a signature of his art. In his early work, Dine created mostly assemblages in which he attached actual objects to his painted canvases. From 1959 to 1960, Dine also was a pioneer of happenings, works of art that took the form of theatrical events or demonstrations.

In 1967 Dine and his family moved to London, England, where he devoted his energies to printmaking and drawing. Dine's attention turned to sculptural work in the early 1980s when he created sculptures based on the sculpture Venus de Milo.

His recent art uses imagery borrowed from ancient Greek, Egyptian, and African objects. In his paintings, drawings, sculptures, graphics, collages and assemblages he combined different techniques with handwritten texts and words and set real everyday objects against undefined backgrounds. The objects were both commonplace and personal, both poetic and ironic, reflecting his feelings about life.

"I am not erasing because I couldn't get the object accurately, but because I am hoping for grace to come to me. I don't think hard work makes a good drawing. If I erase, it's because I didn't get what I wanted the first time and if I don't get it by the twentieth time let's say, and the paper is halfway gone, then I start to patch the paper….The quest is to keep the thing alive--the drawing and the state of grace." ~ Jim Dine, "Putting Down Marks (my life as a draftsman)," in Judith Brodie, Drawings of Jim Dine, 2004.

Cleveland Venus
Jim Dine
37 foot tall bronze sculpture at the Huron Road entrance of the Carl B. Stokes U.S. Courthouse in Cleveland, 2003

And remember…if you like what you see and read, let us know!

Do you have a Bright Idea? If so, send it along to me!

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