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Formalism is composed of basic elements: colour, line, composition, and texture. Together these elements constitute the fundamental language used by formalist artists such as Piet Mondrian and Jackson Pollock. The artwork can be a pure abstraction or representational but the main goal of the artist is to create a cohesive balance in the composition.

I chose to focus on the topic global warming: ice. With the impending doom of global warming and the detrimental effects it's having on both our water levels and polar bears I thought it was only fitting. Moreover, last semester I chose to focus on the topic of water and I wanted to explore the topic more deeply. The focus is to create works centred on the same topic and use different techniques: formalism, expressionism, and instrumentalism.

I was inspired by the works of Piet Mondrian, for his works with horizontal and vertical lines as a representation of space was very intriguing. I chose to use this idea and apply it to the study of ice cores. Ice Cores "allow us to go back in time and to sample accumulation, air temperature and air chemistry from another time"(Davies, 2015). Seems like an odd idea to focus on; however, this technique allows scientists to generate reconstructions of past climate. "By looking at past concentrations of greenhouse gasses in layers in ice cores, scientists can calculate how modern amounts of carbon dioxide and methane compare to those of the past, and, essentially, compare past concentrations of greenhouse gasses to temperature"(Davies, 2015).

That is where the idea for this painting stemmed from and where I got my title from Ice Core. I simply wanted to create a balanced painting that explored the idea of ice cores and what that would look like in a formalist language.

The second of the series is Ice Slice. This is different from Ice Core, as it is a painting that is more fluid than rigid. To complete the painting I used the technique of acrylic pouring. This allowed me to focus more on the colours than the structure of the lines of the composition, leaving the lines to chance.

Finally, the last of the series is a painting called Cracked. The painting follows the theme of ice and formalism. I focused on the colours as well as the forms. Instead of using formal shapes I choose to add more fluidity to the painting. Additionally I choose to use strict colours instead of blending. This lead to the overall abstraction of the painting.

Early stages:

The two following images are the final product.

Alyssa, McLean, (2018). Ice Core. Acrylic Painting, 22x52.

Although the entire painting was painted vertically the image is supposed to be viewed horizontally.

Cost $200.00

Alyssa, McLean (2018). Ice Slice, Acrylic Painting, 16x24.

Cost $80.00 (Original Sold) 10 prints as available.

Alyssa, McLean (2018). Cracked, acrylic on canvas, 11x9.

Cost $40.00

Instagram: @alyssamcleandesign

Facebook: A.McLean

Davies, B. (2015, 01 09). Ice core basics. Retrieved 02 12, 2018, from

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