The last couple of weeks in class we have focused on "abstract" painting because it presents very unique challenges and forces students to look at things a little differently.
In the last post and in the past (see:Class notes: Abstract Painting) we have approached abstract painting from a purely compositional point of view, developing work with a specific compositional theme and color agenda.
This week in class, we are talking about "Representational Abstract" painting;
think Picasso and Georgia O'Keefe.
We started with a still life which I set up in a rather casual way and left on the table for about 10 minutes. This is enough time for students to see and be influenced by colors and shapes,
and work out a rough sketch from the first quick impressions.
Once the still life is removed we are free to focus on shapes in developing the composition. This may mean turning the paintings sideways, or upside down as we are look for interesting shapes, deleting some, redrawing others. We do what ever it takes 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. Some artists have a natural tendency to see everything as a landscape. Other artists see the landscape as a really big still life.
No matter how you work, or what your style is - the very act of putting brush to canvas is an act of abstraction. The difference between the "abstract painter" and the "realist painter" is the level of abstraction. How far do you push the envelope to communicate your idea?
Abstract work has a way of revealing an artist's strengths, weaknesses and natural tendencies because composition, shape and color take precedent over subject matter.