I decided to try some abstract landscapes this week, inspired by a fabulous video series by UK painter Brian Ryder, available at the North Light Shop. What a terrific pair of videos! Usually when you see an instructional video with an artist doing a demo, there's a rehearsed feel to the art, and you get the sense that the artist is showing you a repeat of a painting he/she has done before--all the kinks are worked out, all the decisions made, everything tried and true. But Mr. Ryder simply lets us watch while he paints, narrating his process and his choices and showing us how he gets from initial studies in watercolor and oil to a large scale abstract landscape in acrylic. He lets us see him consider his options and work through the painting in a completely fresh first pass. The only thing practiced is his technique, which has obviously been honed through years of painting. This has to be one of my favorite resources from a great artist! (The other being a stellar video from Marshall Arisman, I'll link to that in a separate post!) So, starry-eyed and excited, I decided to try an abstract version of a recent pastel landscape study...and I have to say it's really not ready for prime time! But in the interest of hopefully showing improvement and steadily gaining a new skill, I'll show you what it looked like:
On the left is the full study, 12" x 12" (Not sure why it appears rectangular here; the painting is square, so I guess Weebly has some format restraints on the gallery images). There are some things I like about it: the sky and fog, the sense of motion of the water hitting the shore line, and some of the foreground brush strokes. But the composition is awkward and the color scheme is not right (this is acrylic, by the way, though the first study was pastel). The setting was supposed to be Blueberry Hill in Acadia National Park, and the reference photos I took were on a foggy cool day...my abstract somehow looks to me like Barbados before a storm. ;-/ The pic on the right is a cropped version, which I think somewhat improves the composition. What do you think? Anyway, clearly I have to practice this abstract stuff...poor me.
I recently came across an older series of posts from James Gurney about relative neutral grays and using gamut masking to tailor your color choices with a limited palette.
I decided to give it a try, and used my pocket color wheel to choose limited palettes for two small pastel studies. For the first, a harmonious range of yellow-orange, yellow, yellow-green and green, plus just a bit of complementary violet and pink (red tint); for the second, a range of blue-green through red-violet with a pretty strong complementary yellow-orange. (Yes, OK, those are pretty big ranges for a limited palette, but I'm a color nut and find it VERY hard to limit my colors in pastels!)
Alexia Rosoff Wilber
News and notes about art.