Sunday, August 16, 2015

Source material for abstract painting

You've decided you want to try abstract painting. You lay out a 22" x 30" sheet of white paper. Your brushes and paints are at hand.

And now what?

How do you begin?

Award-winning American artist Pat Dews suggests that you begin by working from a photo. It could be one of your own photos, or something that you find in a magazine. The idea is to look at the photo through a viewfinder (a piece of cardboard with a hole cut out, perhaps 2" x 2") and to search for a high-contrast, pleasing area.  Your subject might be only a small fraction of the photograph, but seen in isolation, that small fragment may have all the elements needed for an interesting composition: a variety of shapes in different sizes, a range of darks and lights, and intriguing negative spaces.

I have registered for a one-week workshop with Pat Dews later this month. As well as an extensive materials list, we have been asked to bring to class two failed paintings, 22 x 30.  This is a little problematic for me, as I am not a painter and don't have anything lying around of that size, failed or otherwise.

But I have had a look at some of my photos taken some five years ago and have cropped them severely. I think that these micro-images may provide an interesting starting point for this first foray into abstraction.

Pat relies on photos of natural textures for the "starts" to her sometimes-abstract-sometimes-representational work. She is intrigued by rocks and water. Her final painting often bears little resemblance to the original image, except for the basic organization of shapes.

I like the idea of going out with my camera again, as I used to do years ago, and look for interesting rock formations, tree roots and cracked pavement, to use as inspiration for abstract compositions.


Dianne Robinson said...

you have some nice images there, Heather. Have fun with the class!

Heather Dubreuil said...

I think many of my "texture" photos were taken on one of our retreats in the Townships :-) Remember that peeling paint?