Thursday, February 16, 2017

Starting with a Transparent Wash

"Meditation on Joy"
9x12", oil on canvas mounted on hardboard
The Hildt Gallery, Chicago

I thought I'd try a completely different approach with this little floral abstract painting.  Instead of setting up a floral arrangement to paint from, I thought I'd let the painting "create itself" this time.  

I started the painting with a little bit of paint and a whole lot of Gamsol (a paint solvent) to make my oil paint behave similarly to watercolor paint.  I dropped the different colors on the canvas and let them run together and spill right off the bottom.  All the while, I was observing what parts of the painting were speaking to me.  I wanted to develop the areas I liked with just enough detail without ruining the spontaneity of the abstract underneath.

Little by little, I snuck up on the painting, adding small dashes of color wherever I wanted to.  This was a pretty long, drawn out process.  After every few brush strokes, I stepped back about six feet and asked myself what I should do next.  To me, the process of abstract painting is much more intensive and tiring than painting from a reference.  In abstract painting, it's just you and the painting, without any outside guidance from reality.  

After this painting is mounted and framed, it's off to the Hildt Gallery.


  1. Excellent!I've seen this in watercolor but never oil. Beautiful!

  2. 'Meditaton on Joy' - "To me, the process of abstract painting is much more intensive and tiring than painting from a reference."

    Well said - as abstract painting is like long distance running - it's just you and the wind, your breathing and the patter of your feet as you glide along.

    Whether your guide is line, form or color ... proceeding is a symbiotic relationship of you and the canvas. Kudos.

  3. What an interesting approach and the result is wonderful. I love doing paintings just painting it for the feel of what is before me. It's true that the painting grows and becomes seemingly what ever it wants to. However I think the stepping back technique is a magnificent way to feel its intent. If I might make a suggestion on your use of a solvent, lately I use refined linseed oil and thinner 1:1 as a thinner or medium. The result is less flattening of the oil paint, rule of thump is no more than 10% solvent helps lessen the drying out and flat spots in a painting. Oiling out is a process also to revitalize oil paint dry spots (Winsor Newton site info)

  4. I love seeing this! GREAT ART!!!!

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