Abstracting the Landscape

Most artists reach a point that draws them toward abstraction. Abstract art uses a visual language of form, color and line to create compositions that may have echoes in the representational world. Abstraction indicates a departure from reality in the depiction of imagery. This departure from faithful representation can be only slight, it can be partial or it can be complete. Abstraction exists along a continuum. Even art that aims for the highest degree of accurate representation can said to be abstract at least theoretically.

This is a two-part lesson. First a Follow-Along Demo. Follow along at your own pace but remember my suggestions for time limits!

Next is an Independent Assignment meant to expand on some of the principles presented in the Follow-Along Demo and to personalize your work. When you have completed both parts you can upload one or both images to receive a personal video critique on your work. Remember that the more mileage you get, the more progress you make, so I recommend that you complete both parts before submitting your images.

Who it’s for – This lesson is for intermediate and advanced painters. I recommend following along for a first try, then create a second piece using your own source of inspiration!

What’s it’s About – Using a more intuitive and expressive approach. Staying away from using a our photographs as the sole source of reference. Bring your inner imagination!

Set a Personal Focus – Try to focus on just a couple aspects of the painting. For instance, if you really are interested in color, focus on that and don’t worry too much if you don’t get the drawing exactly how you’d like it. Take it a step at a time!

Set a Time Limit – Keep it simple and don’t spend more than an hour and a half on it. If you find yourself spending two or three hours on it, it’s time to STOP and try another version!

Materials

  1. Your pastels
  2. A 17 x 17 piece of white Pastelmat. If you don’t have a piece that large, it’s ok!
  3. Fluid acrylics: cadmium yellow, phthalo green, phthalo blue + quinacridone magenta
  4. Old bristol brush
  5. Gouache
  6. Charcoal
  7. Water
  8. Paper towel
  9. A toothbrush

Extras

  1. Easel
  2. Baby wipes
  3. An apron

Part I
Follow-Along Demo

  1. Stop the video whenever you need to – it’s one of the great things about learning this way. Plus, you don’t need to take notes!
  2. Don’t feel funny about copying my pieces! It’s a time-honored way to learn and I know you’ll develop your own “style” in due course. I give you lots of ways to take off on your own and expand on the demos/lessons.
  3. Take your time, but not really! I want you to speed up a bit so you can start to develop the “whole” piece all at once.
  4. Do it differently. If it feels uncomfortable, you’re likely on the right track.
  5. Remember the three “P’s” Perfection, Procrastination, Paralysis. There is no such thing as a perfect painting, so don’t even worry about it.
  6. If you have trouble, ask for help! My team and I want you to have a great experience doing the lessons!!
  7. There are 5 stages in each lesson. The beginning of each stage is a good time to pause the video, take a short break and check in on how you’re doing.

“Abstracting the Landscape” Notes:
I really enjoyed painting this, maybe because it was so different for me, that I really did not feel attached to it, so I could really let go. I hope you will have the same orientation towards this lesson and really have fun!

Part 2
Independent Assignment

Do another version using your own inspiration. Remember that it can be something as simple as a texture on the wall or a very simple landscape with only 3 or 4 shapes!

When You’ve Completed Both Part 1 & 2
When you’re done, click here to upload pics of your painting and I’ll send you a Personal Video Critique. I’m curious what you’ll come up with! The first critique request is a free bonus for you. If you’d like additional critiques, normally a Personal Video Critique is $97 but you can send a message my support team to get a discounted critiques package – I’ve already told them that since you are taking lessons from me, you get at least 40% off.

If you aren’t ready for a personal critique from me, then be sure to upload your work to our Community page where your peers can take a look. I often comment on the Community submissions as well – it won’t be a video critique but I really enjoy seeing your work and helping you when I can.

The Stages (applies to both part 1 & 2)
This lesson pretty much breaks all these rules! Have fun with the freedom of it. Now that you’ve spent a good deal of time going through a series of steps to create pieces, this may be a welcome respite from that structure!

  1. Planning
    • Crop your reference, (feel free to crop it just like mine or change it up a bit).
    • Do a quick 5 to 10 minute thumbnail. This is a great way to get a feel for the piece and visualize the final version.
  2. Drawing
    • Scale up your thumbnail to the correct proportion Watch my video on scaling a sketch!
    • Lightly sketch in the essential shapes
    • Use your thumbnail sketch more than your photo reference at this point
  3. Blocking In
    • Establish the essential shapes of the piece, (3 to 5 largest shapes) Use the sides of the sticks)
    • Establish the values of those main shapes. What is the overall or average value of each shape?
    • Get a feel for how the piece works as a whole.
  4. Adding On
    • Add a variety of hues, and intensity to each shape.
    • Add texture and smooth out gradations where needed. Watch my video To Blend or Not to Blend.
    • Add a light source or direction of light.
    • Add detail.
  5. Finishing
    • Resolve any areas that need attention or TLC.
    • Slow down make color adjustments where needed.
    • Go the extra mile and exaggerate contrast and intensity where needed. Give yourself permission to do this!
Abstracting the Landscape
Download the Lesson PDF

Enjoy “Abstracting the Landscape”!

To Download the PDF file:
Ctrl-Click (MAC) and choose “Save File As”
Right Click (PC) to download files.


Click Here to Download the PDF
Download the Images PDF
To Download the PDF file:
Ctrl-Click (MAC) and choose “Save File As”
Right Click (PC) to download files.


Click Here to Download the Images PDF

SUPPLEMENTAL VIDEOS

September Bronze & Silver

Watch Marla's Previous Critiques of This Lesson