Why I paint abstracted landscapes?
Updated: Sep 2, 2021
...or abstracted anything for that matter.
It’s a good question - and it’s not the way I started. Like many artists I began by watching on-line tutorials and basically copying the style of who ever I was following. If they painted a landscape then so did I, if they painted a kettle, or cherries then so did I, and the same with flowers.
This also applied to in person classes. I signed up for one that sounded really interesting, it claimed to be encouraging participants to loosen up, using water based media. This sounded ideal as I like using acrylics which are water based.
What it turned out to be, was a re-imagined water colour group, with established participants from all the tutors previous groups. So whilst I fully accept that there are different ways of learning, this particular group put me off water colour entirely. To be fair the tutor did try to to do something different, but it was the group members who struggled with thinking for themselves. They needed to know exactly what substrate they needed, the exact paint colour, what brush and which brand... They couldn't cope with making their own decisions. In fact one member of the group was so discombobulated by the tutors attempt to do something slightly outside of heir comfort zones, she walked out! Muttering and complaining.
However, for me although I hadn't enjoyed the experience, I stuck out the six weeks, hoping for something better each week, that didn't arrive. But I did learn that I have absolutely no desire to work in water colour, or just simply reproduce exactly what the tutor demonstrates, if that's what you want, you might as well buy a painting by numbers kit.
When I decided to try my hand at landscapes, I began by trying to reproduce a photo I’d taken, or more often from memory. I quickly discovered that I didn’t enjoy that, and none of them exist now as I painted over them, which speaks volumes! Besides which, there are many successful representational landscape artists that produce fine art that sells, that I can admire the skill of, but it’s just not my thing.
So through trial, and a lot of error, I’ve found that I like to paint the landscape in a more abstracted way. To understand why I liked the idea of that, I needed to think about the reasons. And to learn and understand that I needed to do some self-exploration and ask myself some questions, all beginning with why?
Firstly, why landscape?
Probably because I live in a beautiful area of Devon, where many other beautiful areas are easily accessible, Dartmoor being one of them, stunning coast lines and I love the great outdoors. Plus I'm not a fan of representational art and admire many other artists who paint abstractly.
Why do I like being outdoors?
The sights, sounds, smells of nature, the seasons, and the shear drama of it.
Why not representational?
Everyone has access to a camera, now. Everyone can visit these places for themselves, so there is less need to capture a scene this way. In times gone by, that would have been the only way for people to see what other areas were like, so the representational painter brought the realistic view to them.
I’m trying to communicate a sense or a feeling that a painting holds rather than it’s exact replica. The sense of not being constrained by our boundaries. A feeling of space and freedom, what my senses tell me not just what I see.
Why don’t I like feeling constrained?
Being within your own four walls for too long, can feel suffocating.
Just drilling down and asking why I’m doing something, and from that came quite a telling lightbulb moment. So ultimately I want to communicate a sense and feeling of space and freedom in “my paintings. And that is so much harder to do than you might think.
For example, my mini-series, ‘Under Cover Country’, was inspired by my grandson, who was completing a gruelling training course, which culminated in him doing a series of parachute jumps in a variety of conditions. Clearly that was at the fore front of my mind, as you can see from this piece, which his still available. Just message me - email@example.com.
My paintings start with a sense of a place or with a specific feeling and then I simply start to lay down some paint and see where it goes. I’ll begin by laying down some marks, to respond to and then see what’s there, if anything. Then more layers, sometimes collage pieces, then more paint, drawing through the paint, creating more marks etc. Sometimes it’s easy to see where it’s going and sometimes it just doesn’t reveal itself. I’ve got several of those boards in the studio, that just refuse to come together, but I now know that one day they will. I just have to put my trust the process and my intuition.
I use a variety of techniques in my work, which could look pretty brutal. But I often sand my paintings, or scrape and scratch back into layers to reveal what lies beneath, I love the effects and texture that this can create. But it also gives the painting something else that will be completely unique to that piece. It would be completely impossible to recreate it, even for me. Which is why an original art work, is so very special.
And lastly if you've read this far, here's a sneak peek of some close up crops of the series that I'm about to release./
If there is anything you would like to ask, just drop me a message.
Have a good month.