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HOW TO ABSTRACT THE LANDSCAPE PAINTING


I PAINT…

not to reproduce the landscape but to sculpt it abstractly through oil color, brushwork, and shapes. Painting is an exercise of warping reality. My paintings begin with a round brush dancing over the canvas with sketchy lines. The question of how many brushstrokes or thickness of paint are not predetermined but flow with the moment. My approach is not systematic but there are some common methods that work for me.


I look at the subject in black and white so that I don’t see the green trees and blue skies. When the landscape is without color, I am able to visualize unexpected colors building the composition and abstracting the oil paint by shifting away from those representational, expected colors.

I turn the canvas upside down once the painting is underway to again confuse my expectations and inclinations so that I look at the value and shapes in a fresh perspective. A strong abstract landscape painting looks good upside down or flipped to its side.

I step away from the canvas moving back 10 feet, then 15 feet to see if the oil color is creating the expression through brushwork and values. I am usually happy when my strokes appear loose and unblended.

I squint to see...

if there is any structure to the painting. If I am trying to keep depth in the painting, I restate dark values if needed. Sometimes I am just using the landscape with no goal of creating a landscape and then I eliminate depth to create a more flat perspective.

Am I trying to harmonize color or blast the color? Abstraction is beautiful in a cool toned blue, grays and lavenders canvas and likewise in a warm toned bold prime color explosion. I fight hard to avoid moving to the actual underlying tone and colors and often look solely at the canvas to determine the next stroke, the next hue.

When painting abstractly I am not trying to copy the landscape but rather represent the spirit of the land. I freely change the subject to suit. I often find that I get into a rhythm and zone. For me, spending the day painting in the abstract makes my canvas more about the art, more about the brushwork and paint, and a dimension beyond the reality.