Abstract Process

I am more aware of how I think when I paint these days. For yesterday’s experiment, I began with a premise as a starting point. Months ago I used a different method: I would randomly brush or splatter paint or latex resist, sit back and wonder what to do next with what I saw on the paper.

Today’s watercolor experiment:

My plan today was to do more work combining curved and linear pictorial elements. The picture below is the first stage of today’s study.

Watercolor: Abstract 92614 stage 1 - Yellow round center, Red top stripe; Orange bottom stripe; Blue sides

As in my experiment the other day, I painted a strip at the top and one at the bottom (alizarine crimson and perinone orange, respectively), connecting them with thin bridges. But today, I started with thoroughly wet paper.  This gave me the opportunity to add a circular cadmium yellow pale color area that would merge with the surrounding frame. I added Prussian blue on either side of the yellow form. I chose Prussian blue, since it is on the green side of the spectrum and thought that it would merge well with the yellow. I tried to keep it away from the red and orange to avoid a muddy mixture.

Second stage:

Watercolor: Abstract 92614 stage 1 - Yellow round center, Red top stripe; Orange bottom stripe; Blue sides; Purple wash, around Yellow Center

The major addition to the second stage of the study was the addition of permanent mauve. I used this purple color to make the yellow stand out. Purple is on the opposite side of the color wheel to yellow and provides maximal contrast.

At this point, the circular yellow patch was beginning to look more like a sphere. I got the sense that it looked like an explosion. I could also see that it could become a snow-globey-type object.

Time for the next coat.

Watercolor: Abstract 92614 stage 1 - Yellow round center, Red top stripe; Orange bottom stripe; Blue sides; Purple wash, around Yellow Center; add stripes in yellow and more orange at bottom

Abstract 92614
9″x12″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block

I re-wet the paper for some more manipulations. I finally decided that the round shape should be some kind of planet. I painted horizontal blue striations across it. I had not given up the snow globe idea, so I rewashed the bottom of the frame with orange so it would seem like a plinth or base of the orb. Along the sides I used the dark indanthrone blue to make the yellow stand out.


I believe I successfully achieved the goal of integrating circular and linear planar elements in this composition. In and of itself, this is not a big deal. However, as a watercolor experiment, it allowed me to articulate and execute this premise. The current experiment is a simple combination of just two elements: the linear frame surrounding and interacting with the circular center.

I’m not sure that painting can be summed up entirely by the execution of premises. Perhaps I should think of my little experiments as lessons I can apply at the appropriate moment, in the execution of a vision. A vision and not a premise.

4 thoughts on “Abstract Process

  1. I love that you express how you’ve come to the end result of your piece. I find it really interesting to know from where the image was born, how you achieved it, and how you feel about it. I think we all forget from time to time how healing the arts are. Thank you!


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