There is no line between realism and abstraction – rather, there is a continuum in the way we perceive. Up close, the detail is real, but sometimes when we back away, the layered patterns dominate and the abstract impression is what we see – think of Claude Monet’s water-lily paintings. At other times, the opposite is true. The closer we look, the more abstract the image, as in some of Georgia O’Keefe’s flowers. Exploring perception is just one aspect of being an artist. The other is finding magic in that which is easily overlooked. Spring Redeems is based on an early spring walk, when last year’s leaves are mostly hidden under water, yet bare branches allow abundant light to tickle the pond’s surface. Patterns of sunlight and shade, competing reflections – how I love the delights of complexity. Details below. Enjoy!
Technical painting notes: I started this painting rolling on dark green, olive, and violet/burnt sienna tones in a loose manner, then used my usual solvent/oil mixture to disturb and streak the paint. Some scraping helped to define the tree trunks and limbs. When the underlayer was dry, I used mostly soft watercolor wash brushes to layer glazes of color that defined sky vs. vegetation. I also layered varicolored paint spatters to keep the surface interesting and to suggest pollen, dust, and baby duckweed. I directly painted the floating leaves, and used small dashed strokes to imply the incipient mat of vegetation that was beginning to develop – especially my old friend duckweed. Additional layers of glaze unified the colors. Pale blue glazes suggested a skim of shallow water over the underwater leaves. Blue violet glazes enhanced the feel of shadows across the pond’s surface.