Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Abstract Workshop #1: Dirty Sunlight

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

Happy Tuesday!


Äiti said...

I enjoy hearing about process. Thanks for sharing. You have a wonderfully talented base from which to start...glad you trusted yourself enough to embark on this new journey.

I like the painting very much!

Julie_c said...

Thanks Shirl -

I'll take any compliments I can get! It's a wobbly new world.

Heather said...

I love it--it's like the viewer is in this grey world and they're looking out to a world filled with color. Makes me want to jump through the "window".

Shelley said...

Really nice work!

Julie_c said...

Thanks Heather and Shelley!