‘Floating’ Shapes – an Abstract Composition

A colourful abstract composition in crimson, blue and ochre. Shapes floating through the air or swimming.
Floating

Good morning everyone. Today I’d like to show you an acrylic abstract painting ‘Floating’ that I have just finished. Of course, now that it’s complete, you can see all kinds of motifs. But, I assure you, these were not planned or anything. And, as I painted, after the first impetuous, free stage, I began to see shapes developing. So I just helped them a little bit to emerge more clearly. Actually, what is weird is that I rotate the painting round when I do this. And still something recognisable appears! Incidentally, this is quite a contrast to how I created this post here all about floating objects. As you can perhaps see, this was carefully constructed and planned.

What do You see, Floating in Air or Swimming?

A closeup of the strange face floating up close to the viewer.
Floating – a closeup
Floating – another close up

Obviously, there is a face appearing and that’s because I sort of painted the lips while the painting was upside down. (From the way it was started, I mean). And then I just went with the flow! And, in order to explain away the fishy detail in the second closeup, I can’t! But those fish just seem to find their way into lots of my abstracts.

However, I do remember reading somewhere that the human brain is programmed into finding patterns in what we see. Particularly, we perceive faces and people very readily everywhere. Perhaps it’s some kind of survival instinct. Personally, I do enjoy looking at abstract and semi abstract work more when I can see shapes and make a story. As if this way of seeing allows me into the picture more easily. Instead of feeling that I am blocked from entering.

Straight Lines and Curved Shapes

Finally, I’d like to explore the concept of design a little. Or, to put it more simply, how to decide where to put things, and how to arrange them on the page. Naturally, this element of composition is important for figurative and abstract paintings alike. In my own case, I think about the design about half way through the process in abstract work. To be honest, I have been watching stuff recently on line about various types of composition design. And I read all about the combination of straight lines and curved shapes.

In fact, I realised that I use this style of design quite a lot in my abstracts (see here ) And, I didn’t really know I was doing it! But, I shall carry on because you can create strong compositions with a lot of movement this way. However, now I can think about trying out some more design schemes as well. Well, it’s all part of the lifelong learning plan!

A Bright Red Abstract Painting

A joyful. bright red abstract in acrylic.  With soft greens and earthy yellow ochre.

Red for Happiness

Good morning everyone. I finished this bright red abstract in acrylic a couple of weeks ago. And I propped it up on the dining table so that I could look at it everyday. Actually, after all that looking, I’m still not sure what it’s all about! Of course, I am aware that it doesn’t have to be ‘about’ anything. However, I do usually have some ideas on the main themes and so on. Strangely, I don’t in this case, but I do remember that I felt calmer and more settled as I was painting. So, maybe that was its significance, to me anyway.

The Bright Red Abstract, an Earlier Version

The bright red abstract as it progressed. This version is turned a quarter to the left.
The Bright Red Abstract, an earlier version

As I might have mentioned before, I do now always rotate the painting round as I’m doing an abstract. To be honest, I used to think that this practice was pointless. But I completely changed my mind and now, I find that it helps me to work on each ‘quarter’ individually. Perhaps you noticed that in the image above, I have turned the painting around. It was in fact the first version of the painting in watercolour. Actually, it’s an important part of the development of the piece. Also, it can help to prevent the artist from inadvertently making it into a realistic scene. For example, a landscape or a group of people. But, for me, the most intriguing thing is how the picture does suggest realistic images. Even after all I do to prevent it! And they always come as a complete surprise!

What Can You See ?

Red is Happiness

Of course, I haven’t talked much about what the viewer sees in this bright, red abstract, which is, of course, very important. So, that’s the deal – I paint it and you make of it what you like! And I hope it makes you feel calmer and more settled too!

As I remember, I wrote a post about red in abstract paintings. Mainly artjournal pages – earlier in lockdown last year. See here.

Incidentally, all my original artwork is for sale at reasonable prices. This one , acrylic on paper and 16 by 12 inches (unframed) is £60 plus shipping. And if you want to treat yourself, go to the Contact Me page and send me an email.

More Dog Portraits – Gouache and Acrylic

A South American bush dog, forelegs on a fallen tree in the forest. On lookout.
A Bush Dog in the Forest

Good morning everyone. This strange creature is a bush dog, found in South America. To be honest, I hadn’t heard of it either. But I was researching ” Canines ” for a challenge we had been set in my Beginner Gouache group on Mewe. And I found this fab photo by Gaynor Lewis – thank you Gaynor! In fact, I rarely paint dog portraits but I do enjoy it when I do. Anyway, this member of the canine family has a bear shaped head and webbed feet. As you might expect, they hunt in packs, but, more unusually, they ambush their prey in rivers and streams.

A Bush Dog, a Close up.

Obviously, I did my little painting for the group in gouache paint. Actually, I’ve been doing a lot of work in acrylic lately for another one of my art projects. ( See here for my latest Australian landscape). But , I soon got into the swing of it and I really love the almost chalky textural marks you can create. In addition, this seems tailor made for the rough coat of a wild dog with all the gradations of colour.

One of my Acrylic Dog Portraits

A big, strong dog in the snow. A head and shoulders pose - one of my dog portraits
A Dog in the Snow.

Finally, I couldn’t finish this post without showing you one of the dog portraits that I did a couple of years ago with my tutor. Unfortunately, this group was disbanded but, nothing lasts for ever and I was lucky enough to learn such a lot with this teacher. This is acrylic paint and it’s much easier to work with than gouache. For instance, I could have as many attempts as I liked to portray the shaggy coat! The tilt of the head was a challenge, but Simon helped me to make a reasonable job of the nose and the tongue advancing out of the picture. Happy days – painting all day long with good company and a great teacher!

If you missed my other post on painting dogs, see here

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More Gouache Experiments

The Pathway to the Sea

Hello everyone. Well, as promised, I’d like to show you my gouache painting now it’s finished. Yes, yet more gouache experiments ! Just to remind you, here I wanted to use the paint in the same way as I use acrylics. That is, applied quite thickly to the paper . And, also, using bigger more gestural brushstrokes. As you can see, I really enjoyed the freedom of using the paint this way. I could allow myself go to town on painting the shape of the rocks and pebbles in the path.

To be honest, I didn’t take this photo myself. But it reminded me so much of the seaside closest to where I live . The Yorkshire coast here in the UK can be quite spectacular with its steep cliffs and rock beaches. So, I must give a shout out to L J George for the permission to use this lovely photo, on the Artists Free Reference Photos Facebook page.

Yet More Gouache Experiments

Coffee with Friends

Now, I must admit, this is not the best urban sketch style painting I have ever made. But I’d like to explain why I’m showing it. To explain, a couple of weeks ago, I met with two friends to go sketching en plein air. However, it was raining too heavily, so we went into a sweet, little cafe nearby. And we were chatting all the time, not having seen each other face to face for months. Bliss! But, when I got home, I was dying to do some sketching. And so I tried to recreate the scene from memory. As you can see, my visual memory is not so good! But, I’m sure the exercise must have been good for me. Click here to see a more successful urban sketch , drawn from life, outside, a few weeks ago in Wentworth.

The Experimental Bit

In this little painting , I tried to indicate that the trees through the window in the car park were obviously further away. And more indistinct than the figures and the furniture etc in the cafe. Also, I tried to indicate the shapes of the figures using deeper colours in the shading on the clothing. I know, just baby steps – but it sometimes feels like going back to the beginning ! And, my friend really did order a banana with her coffee !

Scene of a pathway to the sea, through rugged cliffs.  Paint applied thickly . More gouache experiments.
Banana and Coffee

Playing with Gouache Paint

Bathing in the River – Early Morning – reference photo by Frank Holleman from Unsplash

Hello everyone. I thought you might be interested to know what else I have painted while playing with gouache paint. First of all, I tried using a better quality watercolour paper. Because I wasn’t really satisfied with the mixed media paper I used for this painting here of a woman, carrying water home . To be honest, I put so many light washes on places that I rubbed the surface off ! So, I experimented on a small piece of smooth watercolour paper in this painting below.

Playing with Gouache Paint on Smooth Paper

A colourful abstract in gouache applied with watercolour techniques.
Abstract Gouache Experiment

As you can see, I put several washes on some areas to darken and strengthen them. And, the paper would easily take three or four. Also, I tried to apply dark colours over light too and that was quite successful. I must admit , I might use this as an idea for a larger, acrylic painting. And, people seemed to like it on my Instagram account here . So, next I used good watercolour paper for this painting of a figure bathing in the river. Actually, this was done for the India theme we are following in the Beginner Gouache group I belong to.

Gouache Experiment for India Theme

More Experiments – Acrylic Style

I was quite pleased with this painting and I enjoyed trying to show the early morning light on the water. In fact, I think it might be the Ganges river but I’m not sure. Anyway, I’m not really a watercolourist, so my next painting is different. And, this time, I’m using the gouache paint more as I would use acrylic paint . Obviously, gouache paint is very versatile. And, I am much more in my comfort zone when putting on thicker layers of paint ! Of course, I’ll show you the picture when it’s finished . So, that’s all for now.