|Dirty Sunlight j.c.phillipps Jan. 2012|
You know how last year was The Year of the Bird and I spent the year working on watercolor and collage birds? Well, this year is The Year of the Abstract.
I am drawn to abstract art but I've never been good at it. I've always felt I needed to have a concrete path, such as: I am painting a fish. And when the painting looked like the fish I wanted it to look like, then I was happy. I slapped my name on it and said, This is a good painting.
That's much more difficult for me to do with abstract, because I don't know how to map out a path. Or judge my work when it's done. And, quite frankly, it's kept me kind of crippled when approaching abstracts.
Still, I really like abstract art.
So I decided to take a different approach. I'll start just like I would start any other painting, with a spark of inspiration. I'll see something in nature or in a photograph that will spark something in my watercolor brain, such as this photograph by Kat Sloma. And that will be my starting point.
|Photo by Kat Sloma|
I was attracted to the color stains on the wall and the bold rectangle in the middle of an otherwise loose composition.
I reproduced the basics on my paper, let them dry, then I ditched the photo and simply let the painting tell me what to do next. I think the trick is to accept that it may suck. In fact, it did suck, so I added something to it. That caused me to add something else to balance it out. Then I started scrubbing rectangles away. At one point I blotted out some loose paint with a paper towel and that left a paper-towel pattern behind which I quite liked. And so on and so on.
All I'm working with is my own sense of composition, really. And I don't sit there for hours either. I just leave the painting out, work on something else, and tinker with it between other projects. That way I keep coming back to it with fresh eyes.
Finally, it's to the point where I think (think) it's done. It feels balanced to me and I'm happy with it. I can always come back to it later if I have a watercolor epiphany, but for now it is the first in my abstract series.
If you're interested in doing a little abstract workshop of your own, check out these books:
Water, Paper, Paint by Heather Smith Jones
Painting Abstracts by Rolina van Vliet