A dabble in the abstract

A dabble in the abstract - student project


I loved to discover in the video featuring Helen Mirren that abstract art is often not improvised but well planned, while still giving this sense of improvision to the public. I will try to achieve that in my project. After watching the two videos, I just randomly googled for abstract art to collect further inspiration. Here are some works that I really like:

A dabble in the abstract - image 1 - student project

When looking at what I collected I realised I prefer works with not too many different bright colors, works which might have a sketch-like or even calligraphic look and both works inspired by geometric shapes or more natural shapes.

Based on this collection, I think the colours for my project will be black combined with soft green and brown colours and bright accents of red.

I will work with pencil, watercolor paint and ink (as these are the materials that I have available right already).

The key words which might inspire my work will be
PEACE (with yourself and the world), IMPROVISATION (even though it's carefully planned, it should feel natural) and SPRING (because I'm from the rainy Belgium but am in a wonderfully sunny California right now)

I am not sure yet how I will manage to convey this in a painting, I'm looking forward to working on it!

-- Update 3/31/16 --

I started the sketching yesterday!

I focused on the three artworks Nicole mentioned in her comment. I first sketched them while referencing the image on my phone. Then I put my phone on the side and started to sketch new compositions with the same design elements that they used. I made two variations for each artwork.

I am not sure yet which one I will pick to paint. I am thinking it would be great if I could do a mini-series and work further on them all (I will probably work on a small format in water colour). Maybe if one of them turns out really nice I can attempt that one in a bigger format as my final work. We'll see what time allows for :) Please let me know what you think, I'd love to learn!

A dabble in the abstract - image 2 - student project


Here my first paintings! They are very small (about 9 by 7 cm) and done with watercolour paint. I don't like the Kandinsky one, as I think my lines are not sharp enough. Next time, I will try it with ink instead of paint. The other two I'm not really sure what to think, some moments I think they're awful, other moments I think they might be okay as a first start. Next I will try to paint the variations I made in my sketches as well.

A dabble in the abstract - image 3 - student project

-- Update 4/3/16 --

I painted all my own variations as well, but honestly, I don't like any of them very much. I think the paper quality was not heavy enough for the paint and I immediately painted without sketching except for the last one so the forms are not very nice. However, I did learn a lot about the colours I wanted to use and the things I needed to keep in mind (such as first drawing a sketch on the paper before starting painting / inking).

A dabble in the abstract - image 4 - student project

I then got some heavier paper and cutted it into longer pieces, as recommended by Nicole. I sketched everything lightly in pencil first before going over it with water colour paint and ink. I am much happier with these, and personally, the middle one is my favourite. If I find the time, I will do the other three also on this paper and format, it's perfect to use as a bookmark :)

A dabble in the abstract - image 5 - student project

Any feedback is very welcome!

-- Update 4/7/16 -- 

I made three additional bigger paintings, but I actually think I prefer the previous one. I think these could have used a bit more of a background, maybe.

A dabble in the abstract - image 6 - student project

Final result

An overview of all the paintings I've done for this project:

A dabble in the abstract - image 7 - student project


Once I was done painting, I had some colours left. I made some random blobs with them, which also felt quite abstract, and then I just kept looking at them until I saw some shape in it and drew that on it with a black marker. This is one of my favourite drawing exercises, and I wanted to conclude with this, because even though I certainly don't feel like an abstract art master yet, in the future I'd love to further combine abstract and figurative work. Now it's still on seperate pages, even if it was done at the same time, but I'll certainly try out more abstract elements in my other work now as well. Nicole, thank you so much for this great course!!

A dabble in the abstract - image 8 - student project