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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

How to Paint Abstract - 4

I need to add more colour and different colour. Not sure where to go. I'm not feeling on good terms with colour right now, probably gestating new colour relationships! This is such a complex composition I would be better off sticking with minimal colour, but I need to push colour around because the warm yellow/red has become a little too safe. The movement in this painting has been going in from the lower left, up the rung on the left to the circular upper right, down the right, sweeping over to the lower middle and right out of the painting in the lower left. To stop the eye from leaving, I need to deepen the value in the lower left, using light colour to move the eye back up into the middle left so it can start the journey all over again.

Below is the result. Not happy with the colour choice but that can still be modified. I can see that I need to make the lights move a little more prominently up from the lower middle to the middle left.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

How to Paint Abstract Paintings 3

Sometimes it's good to put the images up side by side. This really shows the benefits of taking a picture periodically of a piece you're working on. In looking at the comparison I'm getting ideas for pushing further.


How to Paint Abstract Paintings 2 or "I'm getting a headache!"

This one is already getting complicated!!! Ok, here goes: The "start" from yesterday began as gestural movement across a sheet of w/c paper with all kinds of drawing media - charcoal, sauce, india ink, graphite sticks, graphite powder, etc. Then water on a flat brush smoothed out some of the charcoal, blended some water soluble graphite, smeared some ink and created various greys. Then, soft pastels were used to play with colour. I didn't like the colours too much (maybe I should invest in some more pastels, lol) but it gave me an idea of not just value contrasts and movement, but warm and cool areas. I love to work with a shallow picture plane, not having too much of a feeling of depth, but I like to weave things throughout the painting, such as lines that travel in front of or behind and reappear. I like to give the eye lots of things to connect and the brain things to puzzle out, so suggestions of words or runes are also in there. The problem I run into at the beginnings of this kind of process is that I like some of the things that happen in the beginning too much, and the dilemma I face is how to continue with the process without losing all the stuff I love in there. This is worst at times when I haven't painted a lot, like this past year with this massive cross-continent move and my myriad of medical "issues" (yeah, yeah, I know, lots of excuses!)

So, I'm forcing myself to dive in, bullying myself into pushing through. After removing as much of the pastels as possible, I still have warm and cool areas, but not so blatant. I'm going to enhance the cool, slowly, working with combinations of cerulean blue, payne's grey and black and white. I can always glaze later to create more variation to the blue, or just paint another layer. Need to strengthen the blacks. Need to work in such a way that peeks of the lovely backgrounds still show through, but need to be brave enough to cover over - not get picky or precious - that's tough!

I've spent an hour on it and have a headache! This one really hurts! Will really have to force myself to work on it daily. This one needs to be done! Gotta get some coffee.

Friday, June 15, 2012

How to paint Abstract Paintings

This time I'll be more honest. Come with me on my journey. I have no idea if this will become a work of art or not. You'll see each step I take. I'll try to explain what my feelings are that cause me to make certain choices. I'll explain my decisions from the standpoint of critiquing - i.e. the critic/juror will talk about the decisions from a design/composition standpoint, but, ultimately, the feelings will win out. Frankly, I don't give a flying fig what the "critic" thinks. If I'm satisfied/happy/gratified/content/pleased, what have you, that's what counts in the end, and I'll tell you why I'm happy with the work, even if it flies in the face of conventional composition! If it doesn't work, I'll try to figure out why. Help me if you choose. Your comments are valued.

Here we go! I haven't painted much over the past year. Lots of excuses - no real justification. Fear, mainly. I've been quite successful. What if I've "lost it"?!! Time to get my butttttt in the chair - actually, I can't paint in a chair - have to be standing up. Need room to move!

So, back to basics. Play with mark-making and gesture - MY gestures.

Here are two starts. The first was so pretty and safe I couldn't do anything to it, so I needed to do more - push the composition beyond "cruciform"; get down and dirty!
The next one pushes composition beyond "safe", but it's difficult not to do what needs to be done to make it "safe"!
 Since the first one is still "precious", I'll work on the second one, the "throw-away". Need to push some colour around so I'll get comfortable working on it. Pastels are wonderful for this. You can eliminate a lot of the colour if you don't like it, or paint on it and the paint will be influenced by the pastels, picking up and blending colour unpredictably.

Continuing to add colour, intensifying some reds, adding complementary turquoise - not so satisfying - some anthraquinone blue, maybe.....
More to come.......get your buttttt in the chair and push some paint around!!!

Friday, March 16, 2012

How to paint Abstract Collage and Mixed Media - The Process of Laden with Shadow

For me the process begins with establishing value contrast using black mark-making graphite, ink, watersoluble crayons, collage elements (newspaper, corrugated paper, grasscloth wallpaper, candy box tissue paper, etc.). This is followed with a tactile process of applying colour using pastels, graphite, powdered pigments, anything that can be applied dry and blended. This is playtime. Gestures are drawn, marks are made and papers are selected by appeal - I go through my stash and pull out what appeals to me at that moment. Put the stash away, otherwise I'll get bogged down with too much choice. I start tearing and cutting and placing papers, not really thinking of anything but the vessel and tying it to the substrate by overlapping paper to emphasize a very shallow picture plane. As the painting progresses, choices with regard to depth and movement in and out of the picture plane can then be altered or reinforced.

Now the process moves into wet (paint, ink, whatever) and I concentrate on negative space. Image 1.


At this point I usually need to assert emotions with regard to the content that is developing and gestural linework, drawings, stream-of-consciousness wording become the focus. Image 2.


Strengthening  colour choices and partially (or majorly) obliterating recognizable imagery or wordage is next. Image 3.


Time for the critic. What works - what doesn't work? Design decisions are made and adjustments follow so the work "reads" well to me and a feeling of completion results. In this piece the right vertical feels too strong and needs to be lessened. Gesso veils accomplish that. The gestural linework on the upper right is too strong and too definite so it needs to be broken up in spots and partly knocked back with veiling. Image 4.


Notice how the emphasis (focus) has shifted from the upper left quadrant in image 1 to the upper right quadrant in image 4, and there feels to be a greater feeling of energy because of the diagonal thrust from the lower left to the upper right in the final image.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Laden with Shadows

A vessel suggests many things merely by its existence - movement, direction, support, purpose, mystery, time, history....... it's been there for quite a while now, but I couldn't see the trees for the woods! The void was always in my work, along with the question of crossing that void - how? safely? when? why? I put my work up around me and looked, and looked, and .... saw! The vessel! Not just a gesture but a "thing"! But I don't paint "things"!!! This "thing" demands to be addressed! I need to study it, from all angles. I recognize it. It is comfortable. It has been with me always. I cannot recall a time when it was absent. It surprises me that I feel so close to it yet so unfamiliar with it, like a part of your body you always have with you but never really notice. I need to spend some time with it and see if it has me figured out! Here is the first conscious approach.

Laden with Shadows