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Abstracting the Landscape Part 2

This is the continuation of last week's blog, so make sure you've read it first.

Trained realists have a hard time doing simple things! We overcomplicate a piece of fruit, so when it comes to the landscape, we have to be taught how to simplify.

What we have done so far is break it down into values and shapes. At this point, we can start assigning color to those shapes. As you can see in the value sketch below, I've chosen some colors that I feel work with the values. I put little swaths of those colors next to the values:

These colors don't have to be natural, they can be wild and colorful. I set up a color as value chart to make it easier to substitute different colors based on values:

I like intense chroma. These colors are all fairly intense. You can get some beautiful natural colors by tinting and toning as well.

Once I've laid out my palette, I can easily substitute color based on value. Then I start blocking in the larger shapes. I start with the big shapes, and then refine to the smaller and smaller shapes. Last thing I would paint would be the details on the palm fronds.

Just for reference, here's the original photo in color:

Some take-aways from Abstracting the Landscape-

-always start with the simple shapes (Notan in black and white)

-then lay out the colors based on values

-Block in the largest shapes first

-then refine to smaller details

Hope that helps. Even if you are not going all the way abstract, knowing the basic Gestalt or composition of the painting will make it much stronger. Its also a way to take a weak reference photo and make a strong painting. You really don't need a great photo, just a simple design that you can use as the basis for the painting. You are the one who makes it great! Your interpretation of the scene is far more important than the photo.

Take artistic license and have some fun!

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