Sunday, March 25, 2012

Abstracting a landscape

A few days ago, Kate Withers started a new thread on the Composition and Design forum of WetCanvas: 'breaking the rule of centering' (sic). She explained that she likes a centred composition and doesn't defer to the many art books and teachers that tell you not to centre your centre of interest. Kate included her recently complete painting 'Queen of Spades Range'.

I was hooked at first sight. I just knew that I had to paint my vision of this scene. My compulsion was a slight overdose of Frank Lloyd Wright via a student of his: Milton Stricker and his online book on "Design through Abstraction – The Wright Source to Art and Architecture". If you are struggling as I am with trying to see and paint the abstract shapes of nature, I recommend reading this excellent publication. It's not all about art and abstraction, but the images alone make it a worth while investment of the time needed to traverse this document.

Google (Queen of Spades Range) turned out to be no help at all. Not a single photograph of this area which surprised me so I had to work from Kate's painting. I cropped the image she had posted and then stretched it back to a square composition. From this image I drew a light pencil sketch on 200# Saunders-Waterford CP watercolour paper. Using a ruler I straightened the curves with darker lines, some of which I extended beyond that lines of the original sketch. I then used some recently acquired Decocolor Acrylic paint markers to trace over the straight lines. I used red for the mountain and black for the lower slopes.

I turned the painting so that the sky was tilted downward. First a wash of water with just a hint of Raw Senna, followed immediately by another wash with a bit more Raw Senna and finally while still very wet, a third rich wash of Raw Senna. I then removed the tilt and encouraged the paint to granulate by shaking it slightly. It was then allowed to dry completely. The mountains got a similar treatment using Ultramarine Blue with some darker blues dropped in after the main washes. The foreground received a wash of Raw Senna with some darker yellows added to give contrast. I hope you like it.

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