The difficulty of simplicity, feat. collage

I recently wrote this post, explaining my struggle to reduce my landscape paintings to a level of abstraction I crave, and documented a little experiment I did in trying a different approach.

Well, this post is the sequel.  Same drill, different medium.  This time I’m using torn paper, or collage.

As with my previous foray using the humble but oh so beautiful pebble, I felt a little daft.  Actually, I now know this is because this sort of experimentation doesn’t bear fruit in an afternoon, in between “proper” painting and tea time.   I have a fabulous artist friend who explained that in art college, this sort of exploration would be done over a period of weeks, small scale, large scale, using various mediums to come up with various interpretations.

Whilst I wonder if art college and I would have ever got along (due to my impatience), my friend has a valid point, and one that I apply to my art practice in general, but somehow forgot during this process. I can see me revisiting this work again to explore the approach further.

So!  I have a soft furnishings catalogue that my husband thinks is over priced and is outraged you have to pay for it.  You know the one.  Well, that came in handy for this.  I was drawn to the sofas and soft furnishings section…it was the shapes of the sofas and the folds of blankets and quilts that drew me, as they already reminded me of landscapes just being there on the page without me having to rip them up!

Annoyingly, I didn’t take photographs of my collage layout, though I did stick a pretty bit of quilt in my sketchbook.  I found collage, and particularly the images I picked really worked.  Before I’d even sketched them, they already reminded me of the hills to the north of the vale I live in.  I actually enjoyed this.



Though from my notes I think I found the cutting out not such fun.  I should’ve got my son to do it, he’ll cut anything, the edges of the tablecloth, his pyjamas….

Here are the results:

Exploring abstract landscapes by Vicki Hutchins

This last one, I just wanted total freedom:

I think I like it


The main problem is this: it’s not inspiration I’m lacking.  It’s the ability to refine that inspiration to it’s barest element.  To deftly capture what my landscapes mean to me.  I’m not sure these experiments have helped with that.  What they have helped with though is helping me think about:

  • simplifying colour palettes
  • simpler form
  • doing postcard size studies more often.
  • understanding the exploration process and the benefits of doing this over a long period of time, scale etc

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