Search This Blog

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Painting Abstract Art With Intent

Living on the Edge
It's a challenge to enter the studio and act like you know what you're doing when you haven't pushed paint around for a while. Being a post-war baby means I have a real problem "wasting" material. I decide I'll work on a piece that was an experiment to start with (Sydney and I threw all kinds of acrylics on paper to experiment with their properties. Sydney's into magenta and phthalo green - I'm into muted, greyed down, black, grey). Pulling something out of a piece that two different personalities have worked on is difficult, so I wimped out and decided to experiment further by using this as the basis for overpainting with the intent of altering the existing "stuff", not obliterating it.
I first unified the painting by using gesso veils and washes, leaving some brilliant gems untouched. Then randomly glazing over with warm yellows (transparent yellow and red oxides, quin gold) then picking out some structure using black gesso, brushing, stamping, and collage.

I must have then made the right brain shift because the next thing I remember is looking at the above and thinking, "Oops! I forgot to take photos along the way!" Sorry about that. I'll try to explain. Click on the image and you'll get a better look. I basically started to respond to each decision, letting what was happening guide me to say, "Hey, what if...." so I veiled out the lower part gradually, scraping back, blotting, scratching out, writing into, to make an interesting surface. Then added more collage (upper left, center black), a bit more black gesso painted, black mark-making with Woody, prismacolor, then veiled the top with cerulean blue knocked back with black, greyed out, over-painted darker, blotted, scratched out.

Final touches after walking around with it for a couple of days: warmed up the yellow areas in spots, brought a bit of greyed lavander into the lower white middle to pick up some of the still bright magenta/violet peeking through the mid right and the veiled middle square, brightened the white squares in the black "building" in the middle to make it look painterly rather than just collaged and changed the lower right "window" to eliminate the symmetry in the piece. This work has such a cityscape feel that I added the three little abstract birds in the blue to the left of the black middle.

It has a good feel to it - gritty, decaying, precarious - just the way I like it!


  1. It's really fascinating to the see the beginning next to the end. If it weren't for the grid going down the left side it would be hard to believe they were the same picture. I love that you left bright pops of color and still managed to make the picture your own. Beautiful.


  2. Hi Ernie, I decided to try to do this because so many artists who have a desire to explore abstract painting tell me they have no idea of how to start or how the process unfolds, or how to finish. I thought that be showing my processand writing some of my thoughts and choices and decisions, as well as revealing the struggle often inherent in painting this way it might encourage some to try or to press on. I really appreciate your comment. I know I really enjoy seeing how other abstract artists go from a start to completion and I love reading their process.