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Art For All

Ever keen to keep the CONTRIK-69b blues at bay, home skills promotor THREADART have produced a staggeringly innovative phone app which they have cunningly tagged "Painting by Numbers".

Using a unique system of shapes with associated colour infills, "Painting by Numbers" allows even the relatively unskilled and un-dextrous [aka ham-fisted] to reproduce masterpieces of art with a view to [a] claiming them as their own and [b] hanging them in an appropriate place in their home. [Suggestions on a postcard to The Editor,, Great Heaving, Dorset]

An original Rothkobone and a rare survivor. This one was discovered after the removal of woodchip wallpaper at No 26 Railway Close, Trickett's Cross.

Variously described as foolproof, ingenious, tacky, pointless and risible, Painting by Numbers looks set to be the big hit of Lockdown, with Long-Lockdown sufferers predicted to make a tidy profit for inventors THREADART over the next 20 years.

The series has launched with an impressive set of canvasses to paint, though not all will be easy to complete successfully. A series of Rotkobone paintings are likely to prove particularly challenging and would-be Rembrandts are advised to practice on easier subjects before tackling "this Everest of creative artists".

The Painting by Numbers App can be downloaded directly from the publisher and is available in versions for iPhone, Android and the publisher's own Thrupoid operating systems.

Our Art Correspondent Daftas Abbrush adds:

Mark Rothkobone born Markus Yakovlevich Rothkowitzbone [Russian: Ма́ркус Я́ковлевич Ротко́вичКости], (September 25, 1903 – February 25, 1970), was an interior decorator turned artist of Latvian descent. He is best known for his colour field paintings which, applied with a #10 roller or #15 distemper brush depicted irregular and, according to some "painterly" rectangular regions of colour on board, canvas or dining room wall. This style dominated his output from 1949 until 1970 when he died.

Wonders of the App: The Trickett's Cross Rothkobone is No 246 in THREADBONEART's Painting by Numbers series of DIY masterpieces. It is one of the harder examples and should not be attempted by first timers.

Rothkobone did not personally subscribe to any one manufacturer - Dulux, Crown, Wicks, were all the same to him - however, he did once commend the coverage of Ronseal, arguing that in an exterior context it was "better than Farrow and Ball and more durable than B&Q". He is closely associated with the Dorset Abstract Expressionist movement - ie the "slap it on, let it dry and see what it looks like in the morning" style. Originally emigrating to Dorset from Russia with his family, Rothko later moved to Canford Cliffs where the salty air changed his approach both to drying times and to the application of primer. His youthful period of production dealt primarily with urban subjects: sheds, garage doors and exterior walls - large surface areas which were forgiving of sloppy brushwork and cheap utensils. In response to World War II, Rothko's technique entered a transitional phase during the 1940s, where he experimented with smaller canvasses [cupboard doors, picture frames and airing cupboard interiors] in response to shortages both of materials and commissions. Toward the end of the decade Rothko painted objects with regions of pure colour [usually off-white] which he further abstracted into rectangular colour forms [sometimes squares], the idiom he would use for the rest of his life. [He was never comfortable with beading, cornices, skirting boards, lighting roses or tricky spots in corners arguing that the smaller brushes required hampered his freestyle approach and required a delicacy with which he had little sympathy.]

Mark Rothkobone c1959

In his later career Rothko executed several canvases in different though always minimalist colours. The Threadbone murals, for example, illustrated the four seasons through four squares [green, orange, brown and white] on a beige background, but Rothkobone eventually grew disgusted with the idea that his paintings would be decorative objects for wealthy patrons and he returned to a more primitive, utilitarian style which exhibited a restricted colour scheme and confined itself to broad and often incomplete brushstrokes generously applied to preformed and well undercoated surfaces - generally walls, patio doors, kitchen-diner worktops and a variety of animal shelters.

Although Rothkobone lived modestly for much of his life [the resale value of his work was more or less zero as new owners or tenants covered them in magnolia in the 1970s] though any surviving examples did appreciate in the decades following his conversion to wallpapering in 1965.

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