Archive for category Author: Rolina van Vliet
Show me an abstract book and I’ll bang on about how the style is as much about a state of mind as it is about techniques. I’ll also say that the skills you need are mostly the ones you already have. Am I about to contradict myself, then?
Well, no. Paint is paint, brushes are brushes and they all do what they do. However, there is a certain shorthand that can help in the ultimate aim of abstract painting, which is to make your viewer feel the same as you do about what you saw. This means that shapes and colours become pre-eminent, but you can also use textures to emphasise them and draw the viewer into and around the image in a particular way.
The contents list includes terms like Negative Line, Textile Texture and Sketching Using Liquid Paint. Telling you this tells you the facts, but it doesn’t tell you how it all works and you really have to see it to get the idea. The book itself is arranged as a series of studies (being neither demonstrations nor deconstructions) which include several illustrations, notes and a work sequence. I’m not sure you’d necessarily want to follow one through, or that you’re meant to.
If you’re already a fan of abstraction, then this is the next logical step.
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This is a nice change of direction in the literature of abstract painting. When it comes to abstracts, it’s the ideas behind the work that mainly count and it’s difficult to come up with a strictly instructional approach because you’re not simply representing a subject but interpreting it and, if you don’t have something to say, there’s not really any point in even getting started.
However, there are various muscles you can develop and working from a set of ideas and exercises based on what other artists have done will help you get the idea of where you’re supposed to be going and how you might get there. Rolina has come up with a good range of approaches such as the interplay of lines, monochrome working, even painting from photographs and to music. This latter is something that’s cropped up before and is an intriguing idea – you use a favourite piece to put yourself in a specific frame of mind and then simply (well, I say, “simply”) transfer that creativity to paper.
As well as the projects, Rolina has some useful comments on where you might look for sources of inspiration and, in her conclusion, a list of do’s and don’ts that every artist should have taped to their studio wall.
This is Rolina Van Vliet’s second book and pretty much picks up where Painting Abstracts left off. The subtitle, A Guide to Creativity and Free Expression slightly begs a question, but emphasises that this is very much a series about the creative aspects of abstract painting rather than the practical matter of getting paint onto paper or canvas.
This, it seems to me, is a very reasonable approach and it’s unlikely that you’re going to tackle the non-representational route if you’re not reasonably comfortable with your materials. Indeed, it’s probably not to be recommended at all. The matter of begging the question is simply, can you teach creativity? On balance, I’d have to give that a qualified yes. Abstraction is very much about ways of seeing and it’s really not unreasonable to say that you can introduce the ideas of a different vision just as you can explain that, in a straightforward landscape, you need to decide which elements of the picture you’re going to concentrate on, which are going to be just suggested and which you’ll probably leave out altogether. In a word: composition.
All painting could be said to be chiefly about shapes, colour and balance and the basic principle of abstraction is that this is all you give yourself to work with: the normal points of relativity, the recognisable forms, are removed so that the viewer can only work with what you give them. As such, they have to find your point of view and abandon their own and it’s this, as much as anything else, that makes abstract art “difficult” and frequently uncomfortable.
Working backwards from a wide variety of finished paintings, Rolina takes you through the techniques that are available, from visual cues to colour, texture and composition, giving a very practical approach to what is, well, an abstract subject.
This is a book of ideas for working in a purely abstract style, but also one which suggests ways of seeing and working by means of a series of exercises that introduces 65 different approaches.
These exercises are the heart of the book and each one is arranged across two pages with a finished painting on the right and, on the left, notes which explain the artist’s intention and the techniques used to achieve it.
Abstraction is as much a state of mind and a way of seeing as anything else. It doesn’t really have techniques of application that are any different to conventional painting. so what it comes down to is structure, shape and colour. As such, it’s a difficult subject to teach – and an even more difficult one to teach through a book – because you either understand the mindset behind it or you don’t. If you look at an abstract and think, “my dog could do better than that”, then it’s a reasonable assumption that this is not for you. If, however, you’re intrigued by the subject but don’t feel you know where to start, then this book will help you a long way towards the end of the road. The simple, straightforward, approach removes pretty much all the mystique and the rigidly standardised layout means that you’ll feel at home pretty quickly and won’t have to spend a long time re-acclimatising yourself every time you turn a page.
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