To Abstraction and Back

posted in: Blog, Classes, Composition, Painting | 20

Monet’s late water lily paintings demonstrated nature’s capacity to inspire abstraction for later 20th century abstract painters.  While Cezanne complimented Monet for his color harmonies he bemoaned his lack of formal structure. Monet did use classic serpentine designs but, he dissolved edges in his pursuit of blended, moving water surfaces which camouflaged his classic compositional structures.

Bonnard would also later amplify color harmonies and fusing of natural forms in his work. They were both stimulated by the blurry colored chaos of the biological field of vision (example 1).

Example 1. Pierre Bonnard, Landscape of  Le Cannet from 1930s,

The perception of colors floating more freely within and without of an object’s borders  were  exemplified by Bonnard and Matisse and, would be expanded by later 21st century artists like Adrien Ghenie and Paige Laughlin (example 2). We can see the abstract reorganization of color into a natural chromatic progression using leaf matter as paint strokes in the work of Andy Goldsworthy (example 3).

Example 2. Paige Laughlin, oil on Mylar, “Room with a Shoe”,

Example 3. Andy Goldsworthy, photo of re-organized leaf matter on a vernal pool,

What follows is journey of discovery. I found a set of abstract patterns in stream as seen in the color enhanced photo in example 4. This image became the starting point for “Abstract Stream Motion” (example 5), oil on brushed silver Dibond, and 24×36”.  Feeling that the rocks thwarted sensation of abstract motion I overlaid them with new patterns and introduced standing flora (example 6).  Feeling dissatisfied with the lack of unity I proceeded again to further simplify abstract the image which you see in example 7.

Example 4. Step one, the photo of “Abstract Patterns in a Stream”.

Example 5. Step two, initial painting inspired by the photo.

Example 6. Step three, further developments which include the removal of the stone shapes and the introduction of Flora.

Example 7. Step four, the elimination of the Flora and renewed emphasis on the abstract movements of the water’s surface. Present state of “Abstract Patterns in a Stream”, 24×36, oil on brushed silver Dibond.

As promised in the title of this blog post I will next take you from a representational image into abstraction and back into a quasi representational work.  Example 8 presents a shoreline wetland landscape, 36×36” oil on galvanized steel.   In step two, Example 9 presents that painting submerged under another layer of vertically blended paint.  The image here has a mental grounding in landscape only because of the sharply defined horizon.

Example 10, step three, I have begun to excise the surface paint to reveal the colors in the substrate below. In example 11, step four; you see how I have taken this image back into a legible landscape which relies on ambiguous blending and shaping.

Example 8. Step one, original shoreline landscape “Reflecting Blue”.

Example 9. Step two, the over-painting of step one,

Example 10.  Step three; revealing aspects of the substrate begins,

Example 11. Step four, “Reflecting Blue”, oil on galvanized steel, 36×36” in its present state.

One last set of examples demonstrate the journey between abstraction and ambiguous representation. Example 12, step one, presents “Morning Stream Lights” as an abstract work only vaguely referring to a natural stream. Example 13, step two, brings the work toward greater verisimilitude while maintaining a relationship with abstraction.

Example 12. Step one, “Morning Stream Lights” in its early more abstract state.

Example 13. Step two; present state of “Morning Stream Lights”, oil on aluminum, 36×36”.

I invite you to join me in September for more online Zoom classes. Again, I present a demonstration followed by critiques of individual artist’s works. These artists’ works may be anything you wish me to see and offer my suggestions. Registration is at daviddunlop.com.

 

 

 

20 Responses

  1. Avatar
    Patricia Scanlan

    This blog is full of new ideas and does give a plan for abstraction. It is certainly a challenge for me, but a desirable one.
    Step 12 and 13 remind me of Monet’s Morning on the Seine paintings in some way, which coincidentally i was looking at
    today. Thank you for this blog David. Just so interesting and fun. Reflecting Blue is beautiful and dramatic!

  2. Avatar
    Patricia Scanlan

    This blog is full of new ideas and does give a plan for abstraction. It is certainly a challenge for me, but a desirable one.
    Step 12 and 13 remind me of Monet’s Morning on the Seine paintings in some way, which coincidentally i was looking at
    today. Thank you for this blog David. Just so interesting and fun. Reflecting Blue is beautiful and dramatic!

    • dd_admin
      dd_admin

      Patricia, thank you so much for your comments. Perhaps you would enjoy my agenda for my september zoom classes available here at this website. Best, David

  3. Avatar
    Janine M Robertson

    So inspirational. I love the combination of vertical and subtle horizontals in the deep blue water of ‘Reflecting Blue’.
    Amazing transformation!

  4. Avatar
    Nick

    Very interesting but and the initial abstract representations reminded me of Emily Noyes Vanderpoel’s concept (although I’m not sure if the idea originates with her or if she just refined it) of color notes. Her book Color problems is an fantastic resource and perhaps something of interest to someone else out there, I’m fairly certain that David has that particular title on his bookshelf already.

    The layers of abstraction are reminiscent however of deep weighted neural networks combined with marching cubes but perhaps that’s just my odd way of looking at things.

  5. Avatar
    Edward Shumate

    I too am taken by “Reflecting Blue” which pulls magnetically pulls me into the picture.

  6. Avatar
    Melanie Ward

    I am inspired by the way you use an older painting as a substrate for a new one. I especially love the textures and colors in Reflecting Blue. The Abstract Patterns in a Stream is beautiful!

  7. Avatar
    Betsy Duncan

    I love that you constantly explore different possibilities with your body of work. It always fascinates and amazes me.

    • dd_admin
      dd_admin

      Betsy, Thank you so much. It’s a fascinating journey for me. I like sharing the process . David

  8. Avatar
    Fredric Neuwirth

    I am impressed with the transformation
    Paint removal and new color
    The water is inspirational and I would love to understand how you achieved it

    • dd_admin
      dd_admin

      HI Fred. the new August 31st blog addresses how to get translucent water patterns. Thank you. David

  9. Avatar
  10. Avatar
    Linda Ellerbrock

    I am so taken with your style, tools and use of color. It is exciting to see the progression of colors on the surface suggest form.

  11. Avatar
    Denise Petit

    Thank you for your generosity in sharing your talent!!!!
    I will try to do a couple of things guided by this blog and hopefully, will submit for your critique during Zoom class. Thank you again! I’m so excited!!!

    • dd_admin
      dd_admin

      thank you Denise. I look forward to seeing your zoom class submissions. Best, David

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