On the easel today: Porthmeor blue


porthmeor blue
Porthmeor blue, acrylic on canvas, 16 x 20″

The more I learn about art, the more I love the abstract, which is a surprise to me. What’s also a surprise is how hard it is for me to produce an abstract painting.

Painting is a very sensory activity for me, but sometimes achieving a loose style without losing form and composition is a balance.   It takes a lot of prep to be loose!

You would assume abstract painting doesn’t have any limitations.  I guess that might be true for some artists, but even in my abstract work there is still a process to be enjoyed,  and I can’t help having some sort of expectation.

My landscapes are usually planned out a bit more, even if it’s a quick thumbnail.  I just like to check the composition works, and that I understand where my key values are.   Actually I’m in a bit of an altered state with my landscape painting at the moment – but that’s another post.

So the lure of the abstract pulls me in quite regularly (plus I think I get bored easily.  I like to change things up).   I like painting them in oils, but recently I’ve come to realise (duh, get with the programme) that acrylic lends itself to certain techniques that are more difficult to do with oils. Or at least, difficult to do in one session, and you know how I like to be in and out!  Boom, get the painting done and move on to the next one.

I’ve got some great books on abstract approaches and when I can move off the sofa (I’m bushed, been painting all day), I’ll list them in a separate post.

So I started this one by making some gestural marks on the canvas with a mid grey conte pastel.  Really I was just dividing the canvas up.  Also, I fancied including circles somewhere – my abstract work tends to be very linear in movement.  Rather unhelpfully, I forgot to take photos of this stage.  This photo is my first pass of the canvas.  I used the marks I made with the hard pastel as rough guides and just got some colour on.  I started with my extreme values first, then the mid values.  It was all quite fluid and it’s the first time I’ve ever worked directly onto a format without any toning first (I do think next time I will tone the canvas, even for abstract pieces).  I gave the canvas a spritz and enjoyed the dripping effect.

liking it already, plus this is a much bigger size canvas than I usually work on
I bloody love these colours. They sing to my soul.

After the first layer had dried, I started another pass at the canvas, layering the paint on more definitely this time, sometimes using a brush, sometimes a palette knife and sometimes my fingers. I was very careful to save some of the canvas where the paint was more translucent and where some of the drips formed interest – usually I’m terrible at remembering this sort of thing, and merrily paint over any incidental areas of gorgeousness.

Hmmm.  What happened to the circles?  You can just see a hint of them here, but by the end they’re almost gone.  Lots of drippage still though!

And a close up, ‘cos I love all the texture, even though I paint quite thinly:


porthmeor blue_crop
the colours!!

And another gratuitous pic of the finished painting:

porthmeor blue
Porthmeor blue, acrylic on canvas, 16 x 20″




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