Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Abstract Antics - a game developed for would-be abstract artists

As an artist, have you ever been put off by remarks like the following?
  • "It's easy to paint an abstract, my two year old can do it."
  • "Have you seen that elephant who paints?"
  • "What does it mean, what's it supposed to be?"
Well let me give you another quote, "How difficult it is to be simple". (Vincent van Gogh). It is one of many I have collected in an article on understanding simplicity in art.

The problem is that abstract art seems easy, but it is actually quite difficult. And often an otherwise competent artist can be put off painting abstracts when their first effort does not work out quite as they haad hoped. Many other quite capable artists find difficulty in even beginning to paint non-representational work. Not quite sure how to start, or what to do; always thinking about what it is that they are painting. When of course it isn't anything.

I found this out when I conducted a workshop for my art group, on this very subject. They had all said that what they wanted from the workshop was to leave with an abstract painting. I did not ask them to paint what I was showing them , but rather I gave them a few ideas and suggestions and told them to get on and paint an original abstract design. I was answered with blank faces in the main.

After this experience I wrote an article and a step-by-step tutorial and made these available as a PDF download from scribd, but I often thought about why it was so difficult for my colleagues and I have now developed a game using four decks of "creaativity cards" which gives the prospective abstract artist a set of instruction. Not a full set, but enough to create an abstract painting. I do not expect it to produce a masterpiece; it is merely a way of getting the artist to practice painting without any picture to copy.

Tonight at my art group meeting, I used this game to give me instructions for two paintings:-

I hope it won't surprise you to learn that the instructions for these paintings were the same. My method leaves plenty of scope for the artist to express his own creativity.

The way it works is that there are four creativity packs (of cards) representing three layers of the painting and one, called the style pack which covers colour and compostional factors.

Each pack (or deck) contains a set of suggestions which when dealt out provide the instructions for the abstract painting. So what where the instructions I followed to create the above two paintings?

The packs have different backs (all my own work of course) and are also colour coded. I have a set of instructions which I can interpret in any way I like.Here are thumbnail sketches I made for each painting before I started.

Rather than give any more details here, I would like to invite you to visit an article on Squidoo in which I fully describe the game and the methodology.

Remember it is just a game to help practice painting abstracts. I have found that painting abstracts now and then has helped me to loosen up my art work considerably and I would recommend it to anyone for that purpose alone. It is also fun - and disposable. Why not have a go?

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Pastel Painting, A Ray Of Sunshine

BAck to landsscapes this week. I happened to see a piece that I found grabbed me. The cnmposition, and that patch of sunlit just clicked with me. Of course, As ever I have not copied the original but created my own interpretation. The colours especially are my own, although the composition owes a lot to the original. But even the old masters repeated the same images to learn.

A Ray Of Sunshine

I was very pleased with this one, I usually am when I have a strong urge to paint something. Its those times I have to search for inspiration that I turn out the duff pieces.

I thought I would add a couple of images of the work as it progressed, to give an insight into my process.

This was after I had added the "first" colours for the background. As I do, I had built up to this point by layering colours (each layer fixed to avoid disturbing the former) to get that wonderful texture that I love from my pastels. This did not quite feel right though. I had the sunlit grass at thte top of the rise but was not happy with the sky.

Here I had added a darker blue to the top of the sheet and blended it into the very light blue sky to create that recession.

The next step was to put this aside and take out a sketch pad. I selected my colours for the bushes, etc and practiced what I was going to do. Using the side of some very soft pastels I then came back to the background (which had been lightly fixed) and painted in the bushes, as I had done in the sketch book. The last step was to take a few conte sticks and add the linear effects to the foreground.

I work dark to light mostly although some later details may be in dark tones. And I work from hard pastel to soft, again fixing layers as I proceed. The final details are not fixed to maintain their vibrancy.