American, born in Russia, 1903 – 1988
Country Church, 1956
13 7/8 x 17 ¾ in.
Saint Vincent College Collection
Gift of Samuel Sumner Goldberg
Take a look at Helen Gerardia’s lithograph, Country Church, from 1956. What makes it dynamic?
Helen Gerardia was initially a first grade teacher in the New York public school system before pursuing a career as a professional artist. While studying under the celebrated abstractionist Hans Hoffman, Gerardia developed her signature technique of fragmenting recognizable objects using active lines and contrasting colors. Here, a rural church is depicted with the enthusiasm of the modern age. The angular steeple thrusts skyward, paired against a mountainous terrain in the distance. The architectural structures at the bottom of the composition are shown from multiple angles simultaneously – an artistic convention developed by the early Cubist artists Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso. Gerardia used her signature counterchange method by shading and patterning the irregular shapes created by converging lines to make positive and negative areas within the piece.
Kaleidoscopic Drawing / Materials needed: sheet of paper, pencils, ruler, coloring markers and/or pencils.
Step 1: Find an image of a building or structure that is interesting to you.
Step 2: Identify the primary lines that create the building’s form by lightly sketching them on a sheet of paper. Think about expanding elements of the building.
Step 3: Using a ruler, draw diagonal lines that bisect one another that continue to build up triangular and polygon shapes. Introduce different patterns and shading into the shapes that you’ve created. Fill in some shapes completely.
Be sure to intersperse the different patterns throughout the entire composition to balance your piece.
Studio Research / To see more examples of Gerardia’s work, visit the Smithsonian American Art Museum.