"Abstracts are to painting what
Jazz is to music."
"Exercises of the essential, meditated by trance. By chance captures, in unregulated meander through the wallows of the inspired and unrevealed. " -James Michalopoulos
My weekly painting group WAGG (Wednesday Art Gallery Gang) was discussing the abstract paintings that we had been seeing a lot on social media and online. We decided to give it a try during our weekly meet up. I knew that I would have a hard time just winging it without a plan so I decided to take a step by step approach.
I started by getting our huge supply of acrylic paints organized, throwing away the dried out tubes, and pulling out colors that I was attracted to in order to create a limited palette so I wasn't so overwhelmed by too many colors.
My next step was to get inspired. I pulled out several art books from our book shelves to see what styles I was attracted to. I also watched a few You Tube videos of various painters showing their process. I came away with a few conclusions about what makes a good abstract painting "work." I noticed that composition was a big factor in a successful abstract painting. I also noticed that when there were areas of rest and areas of activity helping to move your eye through the painting. I found myself attracted to lots of layering and variety of mark making.
I did a few thumbnail sketches in my Jumpstart Your Art workbook based on some inspirational images.
Then, I did some painting tests on loose canvas using various materials like bubble wrap, palette knives, a catalyst, different sized brushes, charcoal, masking tape, and a spray bottle. I used only the colors I had pulled out in Step One for my color palette.
I started painting! I didn't want to work too small or too large so I chose 24" x 24" as my canvas size. I tried to remember to step back a lot while working and kept turning the canvas 90 or 180 degrees to check the composition. I spent 2-3 hours the first day and 1-2 hours the next day. I was assuming that after all this preparation, the actual process would be freeing, but I was surprised to find how mentally challenging it was.
Here is a close up detail that I think shows the layering. And here is link to see the final painting.
For my second painting I decided to use a photo reference of water as a jumping off point but then just let the painting tell me where it wanted to go. Here is a Link to see the final painting.
I took some photos of Cindy painting her abstracts during WAGG. She made her own scraper and was using that and other interesting materials to create paintings with beautiful results. Here are a few of her creations.