During my recent daily painting challenge, I decided to further explore the painting style of abstracting still lifes. I had just started on this new style a few weeks before the 30-day challenge began. I wanted to see what my results would be when I truly simplified my subject.
For most of my painting years – over 25 – I have painted predominantly representational work. A few years ago I began fusing realism with abstraction as evident in “Getting Back Into the Game.” As you can see, the abstract areas are mainly shapes, colors and textures. They are not the abstraction of an object or subject.
In “Focused Alignment,” you can again see how I painted the hands and the vertebrae rather realistically and the surrounded them with abstraction.
With this new painting style I am not only simplifying the subject, as seen below, I am also painting it flat. In my previous representational and abstract work I have always intended to make my subjects appear as three dimensional as possible. I created images that encouraged the viewer to want to enter into the picture plane.
In this next style I am experimenting with my brain is required to look at my subject from a totally different perspective. I am doing four things I am not accustomed to doing: 1.) simplifying the subject; 2.) using colors that are not realistic; 3.) flattening the subject; and 4.) creating a whimsical theme of the subject.
Looking at my still life set-up below and then the finished painting above, you can see the resemblance, yet the resulting spirit of the painting is quite different, don’t you think? How do you react to it?
It may look easy to do, but it actually is a challenge. I too thought it would be easier than it is. After all, I have seen other artists do similar kinds of things and I kept hearing those voices in my head from past instructors – “simplify, simplify, simplify.” The latter implying the simplification is easy.
The thing is, these instructors were never good at explaining or demonstrating exactly how to simplify. I have known for many years, and this daily painting challenge confirmed it, that not all of us have brains suited to simplification.
Simplifying does require learning a new language. I liken it to learning to drive on the other side of the road while driving around several roundabouts. It is a brain twister and one I want to continue developing. I do enjoy how these images make people smile.
Is there something that you have done that is similar to my exploration of a different style of painting? If so, let me know.
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