Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hot Earth, Cool Sky

Desert Dusk continues the series begun with Endless Prairie and Ocean Sunrise. The technique is now a bit more refined. Essentially a first thin layer of random warm and cool colors provides the background. Layers of color are applied with a knife to establish the horizon line and build up texture and depth of color. Once the big areas are established and approximately the right hue, thin glazes are applied to achieve the shimmering multi-hued effect. Unfortunately the photograph mutes the color and has a bit of reflection on the bottom right.

Desert Dusk, Acrylic on stretched canvas, 16"x20", $150 Buy Now

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Abstract Dawn

Ocean Sunrise continues the series I started in the previous post (Endless Prairie). The technique is similar and uses multiple layers of paint to achieve the ultimate effect. Paint is applied with various sized knives except for a couple of thin glazes for which a brush was used. The ultimate idea was to achieve the impression of a lightening dawn sky and a vast ocean with multiple bluish green hues.

Ocean Sunrise, Acrylic on stretched canvas, 16"x20", $150 Buy Now

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Another Abstract Landscape

Reducing composition of a landscape to the bare essentials (e.g. earth and sky devoid of detail) allows for other elements to be explored more fully. The latter can even be exaggerated to make a point.

Endless Prairie is a simple, almost geometric, composition in which the complex color scheme of a landscape is demonstrated. The canvas ground was prepared with random blocks of thickly applied blues, oranges and grays in the sky area, and reds, blues, yellow, burnt sienna and black for the foreground land mass. Once this was dry, the skyline was marked with masking tape followed by a layer of titanium white mixed with tinges of ultramarine blue and the least bit of cadmium red applied with a knife. The acrylic was mixed with a dab of thickening gel to keep it from going on in a solid layer.

The tape was removed, the sky allowed to dry and the foreground was completed similarly -- a yellow, green and red mixed to give an earthy tone mixed with thickening gel and then dragged on in a mix of vertical and horizontal strokes. As this was drying, I scraped in a few places to reveal the brighter color underneath. After everything was dry, I applied a watery glaze of dioxazine violet to the sky and pthalocyanine green to the foreground. This helped to  unify the painting.

Endless Prairie, Acrylic on stretched canvas, 16"x20", $150 Buy Now

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Textural Beauty

Part of the appeal of abstract art for me is the beautiful textures that artists can create either by using thickly applied paint or modeling paste. I have done some work with knives and thick tube paint and have been pleasantly surprised by the complex feel that results.

Complexity is a first attempt at using modeling paste to create a textured background on stretched canvas. I then followed up with successive layers of paint using stiff bristle brushes and knives. The initial layers were the darkest hues (pthalocyanine blue, violet, alizarin crimson, burnt sienna) followed by the light (cadmium orange, Hansa yellow light, light blue). The brightest highlights were iridescent copper paint applied with a knife dragged lightly over the surface. It took 5-6 applications to get the right contrast between the dark background and the reflective lights.

Complexity, Acrylic on stretched canvas, 16"x20", $100

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Abstract or Impressionistic?

This piece started with no notion of the end result. Recently I have been studying some of the works of Mark Rothko whose mastery of color was exemplary. Though many of Rothko's works appear to be solid blocks of color, this is hardly the case. On closer study, it is possible to detect the complex mixes of hues and tones layered together to create stunning effects.

Rainforest started with thin layers of yellow, orange and sienna, laid on quickly with a 2 inch brush. All subsequent work was done with a knife even before the background colors had completely dried. This allowed me to push and pull the paint so that it went on in broken strokes as it dragged over the tacky background. The forest-like image began to appear rather quickly and from there on I mixed some thickening gel with the final layers to give more texture to the paint.

As always I wondered if I had stopped too soon. But I think I will leave this one alone.

Rainforest, Acrylic on stretched canvas, 16"x20", $100