Thursday, February 25, 2010

Reflection Abstract in pastel

I've long admired well-done abstract paintings, everything from abstracted landscapes in bright colors to ultra-realistic renderings of objects, or portions of objects, enlarged to focus on form for the sake of design.  Until now, I've relied on my camera to capture abstracted imagery.  Between some artist's work and artist's blogs that I follow who are either self-defined as abstract painters, or whose work is described as such by others, I have been wanting to try it.  While it might be easy to discount such seemingly simple paintings with a:  "my kid could do that" observation, it is decidedly much more difficult to decide what to leave out of a painting, or to find design in someting out of its usual context, than to merely copy what is right before you.

At a used bookstore in Tucson, I recently purchased a book written by Barclay Sheaks, titled Drawing and Painting the Natural Environment.  It was written in 1974, published by Davis Publications, Inc., and is long since out of print.  However, it is an exceptional book and quickly became one of the cornerstone books for my reference library on painting and drawing.  There is a chapter, entitled:  "Abstractions from Nature:  Another Kind of Vison", that offered some really useful concepts and suggestions for creating this type of art.  Between this book, and the other artists whose work I've admired for years (like Wolf Kahn) or artists whose blogs I read regularly, it seemed like a good time to try that myself.
For this particular painting, it is somewhat a combination of realism and abstraction.  It is in keeping with my fondness for nature abstracts by focusing on shapes, patterns and values.  However, it will probably be readily identifiable as what it is:  reflections of trees on the surface of moving water, painted realistically.

I didn't want to get too fiddly with it, so I tried to work quickly and not over-work or over think the process - a rut that is all too easy to get into as a painter.  The painting is based on a photo I took on my trip back from Flagstaff, of a creek just north of Payson.  I'll definitely be doing more abstract paintings in the future.
"Reflections" - 9x11"
pastel on sanded paper


  1. Dear Sonya,

    Beautiful painting and wonderfully written article! I work for Davis, and it's wonderful to come across someone who was inspired to create an artwork by discovering one of our books.

    All the best,

  2. Thank you so much for your comments about my painting and the post, Holly - they are so appreciated!

    Mr. Sheaks' book is truly a wonderful resource, and I'd rank it right along with Carlson's book on landscape painting as something every artist who paints landscapes should have in his/her library. I cannot believe my good fortune to have found it. I've read it from cover to cover and other sections more than once already.

  3. I like "Reflections". : )

  4. Fabulous!
    I agree wholeheartedly--abstract (good abstract, that is) is much harder than realism. But many probably don't agree with me. :)

  5. Thanks Steph and Jala for your comments!


Your thoughtful comments add value to this blog - thank you so much for taking the time to leave them!

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