Friday, September 4, 2015

Some New Work: Know Your Own Process

1. recognizable shapes, semi landscape

2. recognizable shapes, definitely a landscape

3. general shapes, what is this?

4. some recognizable shapes, not really a landscape though a few "horizon" lines are referenced
Over the past year I have been struggling with the concept of abstraction. Specifically, what is my version of that way of working? My goals when I began the year were to get away from relying on a photo or photos to create a composition. I wanted to be able to take the 'idea" of a place and create a composition from that instead. I also wanted to rely more on my drawing rather than tracing shapes from photos. I have found this practice to be very limiting, for me anyway. Above are some examples to help illustrate some things that I have found out this year about my own work. Writing about this will help me to clarify what I think and who knows, maybe it will help someone reading this post.

In example 2, I have arranged my abstracted shapes in a recognizable landscape setting. There is a horizon line, some use of perspective via line, value and temperature and in general, I think most people would agree that this is an outdoor scene of something familiar. I haven't traced any shapes-everything is drawn in an an abstracted way from my own observations.

In example 1, there is still a horizon line of sorts. The shapes sit on a perceived horizontal  plane. They overlap and layer to the back of the plane as well. The shapes are pointy and green, maybe evoking a common idea of a tree shape. There is a circle to represent the sun which leads you to believe that the shape is probably sitting in a sky area. Maybe that white shape is some cloud formation. It is at the top of the plane where the sky could be. So, probably a landscape, albeit an abstracted one. I did use several photos for a "collective" reference base. Still, no tracing but all freehand drawing.

Example 3 is a better idea of a more abstracted piece. These shapes are derived purely from observation and are drawn to represent my ideas of something. There are green shapes but what are they? Hills? Mounds of grass? They aren't arranged on a horizontal line so what gives? And what are those mounds of blue and orange anyway? Rocks? There is a moon shape but there is no sky area and the shape is in the middle of the picture plane. What does this scene depict?

Example 4 offers up a mix of several things: recognizable shapes (rectangles, circles, and some abstracted mountain type shapes); more definitive shapes such as the red ladders; and representative color. All of these shapes are taken from my sketches and memories of driving up and down the highway. Some shapes even draw on previous work. 

Apart from any design issues or discoveries, what I have figured out is this: I like the traditional abstracted landscapes that I have done so far (examples 1 and 2) but they almost feel like old news to me. It's similar territory for me in that it is taking a known scene or scenes and simply arranging and abstracting the given shapes. Example 1 doesn't draw from any photo however but purely from observation and imagination. So, this is a step towards examples 3 and 4 which I find I like better. I am also finding that whatever I create and however I create it, there has to be a personal base to the piece. It can't just be a pure experiment in structure. It needs to reflect me and my ideas about what I see and think. (Art is all about the ego, no?)

My current frustrations arise when I find myself wanting to work with ideas in an abstracted way but instead I end up creating a more traditional looking landscape. It's almost like I lose my way in the process and right myself by falling back on a known format (traditional  landscape). I also get frustrated when I can't see my own hand in something. I think it is important to be able to say why you drew that line or made that shape in a particular way or chose that color. Why, why, why? And while there is nothing wrong with any of this, (or even a mix of the two-the more traditional and the more abstract), I really want to be sure that I have the end goal in sight. And the end goal is to get away from something that feels almost flat and static to me. Or feels like old territory or that it lacks my own personal experiences. I want to continue going forward and not backwards.

OK, if you made it this far, thank you. If you have thoughts about your own process that you want to share let me know.

1 comment:

  1. I am fascinated by your thought process, Libby. You approach your painting in such an intelligent way and I really admire that.


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