In this last class session of the year, I have focused on "abstract" painting because it presents very unique challenges and forces students to look at things a little differently.
In the past (see:Class notes: Abstract Painting) we have approached abstracts from a purely compositional point of view, developing work with a specific compositional theme.
This time however, we started with a still life which I set up in a rather random way and left on the table for about 10 minutes; time enough for students to see and process shapes for a rough sketch. Once the sketch was roughed in we focused solely on shapes - looking for interesting shapes, deleting some, redrawing others. We turned the paintings sideways, or upside down - anything to help the "items" disappear and the shapes take over.
I have a fascination with outlines (and a life long love of coloring books) so I used them to create, resolve and dissolve shapes. It is also a natural tendency for me to see everything as a landscape. This is pretty clear in the lower piece.
Abstract work has a way of revealing an artists strengths, weaknesses and natural tendencies because composition, shape and color take precedent with out subject matter getting in the way.