Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Degrees of Abstraction

The more a work leans towards abstraction, the more the remaining elements take on. For example, features in a portrait, details in a landscape, and reflections in a still life carry weight within a painting. As elements are removed, their visual clout is transferred elsewhere, as the total impact must remain the same. A colour field painter has reduced everything to just two elements: colour and the actual paint. They now carry all visual burden.

Looking at the landscape on the left, oil on canvas, 16 by 20", detailed depictions of leaves have been removed; replaced with strong colours. Light and shadow have been replaced with contrast through colour temperature.

Every painting starts the same, as a blank canvas, and every painting ends the same, as a visual object. Everything in-between is a distribution, or redistribution, of visual elements.

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