Saturday, January 23, 2016

Short Tutorial: From Real to Abstract in Pastel: Landscape

©2016C.L.Burgess Winter Variations 1 12 x 18 soft pastel and charcoal on Uart400 paper

I promised this a day ago, sorry I am late....

How my painting grows :
I have been asked where/how I get my ideas for my paintings so.....
I plan to do a small photo tutorial on how to extend an image from realistic to abstract. Below is my photo reference!
Really, abstraction is the very essence of a thing. Just and only just what you need to get the idea across.
So, even when creating something that looks real, we start with the abstract.
In terms of how I look at things; at first what draws me in is light and shape. Going from big shapes ( general) to the more detailed (specific).
Whether a photo or a drawing based on site, I try to see what shapes are interesting to me.
The mantra KISS ( Keep It Simple Sweetie) is always in my head. We see so many things that this is sometimes hard to do.

First I break down the plain white paper in front of me into a grid based on the golden mean, or the rule of thirds.
It gets easier to see the thirds in your mind's eye the more you do this. 
Below, you can see that I started to draw the major lines the road from the photo. 
Next, I began to think the thumbnail sketches out in words.Notice how my zig zag X shape fits into the thirds grid.
Then I made a quick notan in the 2nd thumbnail. 
At this stage it is abstract shapes that fill the page compositionally into 5 big shapes. I will then begin to flesh out the areas to provide better interest with variety of shape, sizes and color notes and values with quick large and bold strokes.  Remember KISS? That applies through this process. Say it with feeling through colors, lines and shapes and above all simplicity.

After drawing that notan lightly in vine charcoal I drew over it in Prussian blue and Burnt Sienna pastel tones. Then proceeded to turn that into a wash of those colors with denatured alcohol. 

This is the smaller painting I did first with the larger painting in progress, beginning to take shape with those loose bold strokes. I also put the small painting away after this and let myself respond to the newer larger abstraction going on. The photo reference went away long before that!

 Stepping back after each application to make sure it tis working and that it is balanced. Again...referring to the golden mean helps. I often ask myself if the composition holds no matter what way I turn the paper.

I hope that you enjoyed this post and maybe learned a little something from it.

I will be teaching a workshop on color this month in my home studio and am acutely alive to possibilities for examples, as I work.
Actually stopping, to photo my creations step by step, helps me move from intuitive to intellectual working modes. While not always possible or necessary, I find it helps me develop a better image in the end, most of the time.( I think the retired teacher in me wants a reprieve! :-) )

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