I set up a checkerboard type pattern and in each space I swirled 2-3 different colors with the end of a paintbrush. Unfortunately I didn't get a very good photo of this before I sent it to a friend in Houston. The photo is slightly tilted as you can see. About 18 x 24 inches on 1.5 inch thick canvas. Acrylic.
I was just thinking tonight about what makes a great painting, and thinking about all the contemporary art I see these days. There are so many artists that think great art is made by just slopping paint in all directions, filling up the canvas. And in the early stages of learning, I think that's a typical approach (speaking as one who's never been to art school). And it makes sense...often it's just great to see how different colors react to eachother, and to see how the paint flows or drips. We become convinced that we have developed an artists spontaneity and an eye for great art. In fact, we often become attached to our own creations. I certainly followed this path for many paintings. More than I want to admit. But to continue to progress in talent, an artist has to objectively evaluate their paintings alongside the many thousands of paintings out there online and everywhere else they exist. If we're very honest with ourselves, so many of those abstract techniques have been done many, many times before. Drip paintings (in the Pollock style), flow paintings, basic brush stroke paintings, geometric paintings,...they're everywhere. Are your paintings really demonstrating anything new or interesting? Do they at least follow some basic principles of design, or are they literally just slapped on paint in all directions? I think real spontaneity, and the kind that looks organic, is very hard to do. As soon as we put the first brushstroke down on the canvas, or the first shape (however it's created), our minds start to fall into old patterns and techniques. I sometimes think abstracts can be done better by a machine or a blind person who is not influenced with what already exists on the canvas. As for me nowadays, I think an artist who is progressing is intentionally trying new approaches and new techniques, often. And willing to really seek out critical feedback. Ask yourself what you bring uniquely to your craft. Maybe you haven't hit that point yet, but the artists I appreciate are those who are always striving for innovation and creativity.
Here's a bit of a disclaimer. I'm not an expert at color but I am definitely finding that the differnce between an amateur painting and a more professional one must definitely include attention to details like color. Now to the point... I don't like using black. I don't see the color in nature very much and so when I use black in a painting, it looks un-natural. It's like a shortcut color to get a dark value effect on a painting. But I think it's a bit too much of a shortcut, especially for landscapes. Even the night sky is not really true black but perhaps more of a very dark blue + brown. Paintings with deep blues and deep browns feel richer and more interesting to me. That said, I don't doubt the power of grays. It think a master painter will typically be a master of using gray. It provides those subtle variations that really are in nature but are difficult to observe.
I like to take old black and white photographs as pieces in colorful paintings. This is a collage of four different photos - the house, car, motorcycle, and the biplane. The plane is called a Curtis JN-4 Canuck, painted
from a photo by Don Parsons, (permission provided).
Here's the first start at a move to get back to color mixing type of abstract. I see a lot of this kind of art but I want to add in some of my own techniques to create interesting shapes during the mixing process as well as afterwards, adding in some shapes and modifications after paint has dried.
My wife, from a photo when we were dating in Korea, about 1992. Someone told me she doesn't look Asian in this photo, but she does have big round eyes in real life. 10 x 10 watercolor on watercolor paper
A colorful abstract roughly based on the color change new galaxies undergo early in their formation. This painting won the "Most Creative" award at the Silicon Valley Food and Art Show in 2015. 30 x 40 inches oil on canvas. $750
Simon Wiesenthal, the Nazi war criminal hunter. In an interview someone asked him if he
considered himself an Historian (after having written a number of books)... He
said no, he's more of a Researcher. In a
speech he asked that people not consider him a Hero.... Rather, he said, every
day of his life after WWII he has considered himself just a Survivor who could
not let the victims down. He had to
search for justice for the victims. 12 x
12 inches, oil on canvas panel.