terms of abstraction : term 1 2016

Terms of abstraction

Often when we are painting we get too wrapped up with the subject matter and lose track of the fact that we are making a picture

By that I mean we forget to make the marks energised and the paint luscious and the shapes eloquent within the picture frame.

We all do it…its difficult enough getting a figure looking like a figure (or halfway reasonable anyway) and manage to remember all those other considerations


So I had a great idea to get rid of the subject matter this term and to explore some nonfigurative (not realistic motifs) abstraction



But pure abstraction… think Pollack, Mondrian etc. etc. for starters


And as a result leave ourselves just the job of making the marks and the paint and the disposition of shapes resonate

Not so easy peasey I must admit to work out how to get this across, without getting complicated and too theoretical and I have tied myself a little in knots.

But after an interesting few days down the rabbit hole I have come up with a vague lesson plan

I say vague because I think one exercise will lead us to the next…but we will have to find that out by doing them (the exercises) and as Picasso memorably said …”you have to have an idea of what you want to paint but it should be a vague idea”


The thing is with this process the painting tells you where it wants to go and what you can do next (ideal scenario) and you learn to listen to it and follow


All this means having fun again


Ben Nicholson….


firstly we will deconstruct this elegant little composition by Ben Nicholson and reconfigure the shapes into a new composition


Lee Krasner



Lee Krasner was Jackson Pollacks long suffering partner.in these collages she cut up charcoal drawings that she and Pollack did with Hans Hofmann and made them into new compositions.

find some of your old works both paintings(which havent made the light of day) and drawings and we will try this for ourselves.

we will also make some interesting textures ourselves to use in these collages


Hans Hoffmann


we will have alook at Hofmann too..luscious paint and great use of the rectangle to stabilise a composition


leading on from these exercises we can  choose how next we proceed.

i realise that a whole term of pure abstraction may be pushing it for some of us, and so having raised our visual consciousness with these shape shifting  exercises we can now decide how  next we proceed. we can develop works along the veins of the above works or




and i am quite happy if people wish to bring some realism back into the picture, using collage still though to make a composition to paint from…or at least to diverge from!

this is a collage i made recently using old floral etchings which i cut out and used in a composition


how about using some of Gauguins figures to create a new collaged composition.. a bit like this one i did some years back


IMG_5225 (2)

we will need

loads of masking tape

new cans of fixative

lots of paint


start looking for your own reference too…what abstractionists do you swoon over



term 1 starts on 9th of Feb

look forward to seeing you soon

please email me to let me know if you are joining us this term





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