This is an assignment we did in Design Class. We were required to make an abstract painting with acrylic paints. We chose a realistic painting and turn it into an abstract one. Click on "read more" to see my response.
In this assignment, we were asked to make an abstract painting from a realistic painting. The medium we used was acrylic paints, which it was the first time me to use; accordingly acrylic paints are quite hard to wash off once it gets on clothes, so I truly have an bad impression on this kind of paints. However, at the same time acrylic paints are quite flexible, and I have seen a lot wonderful works done by great artist who used acrylic paints- they are so raw just like real scenes behind frames. BUT, as a newbie in painting, I know nothing about this wonderful medium, and do not know how to appreciate its beauty. Anyway in the end I finished my work with it.
The "realistic" painting I picked was The Beached Margin, by Edward Wadsworth. It shows the scene on a coast, where stand three pillars or poles, with starfish and safe rings on. On the deep, blue sea there float some sailing boats. Sky looks azure, without any cloud. What a terrific, peaceful day! Nevertheless, the poles are apparently unrealistic and abstract, so is the exaggeratedly large starfish. Also, the light seems quite unrealistic to me. I had a glance on others' reference pictures, and no one chose such a weird "realistic picture" like mine. Somehow it made me feel so unique, just kidding.
There were three important requirements we need to fulfill in the painting in order to imitate the original one in an abstract way: the colors in the painting( "borrow the palette", said Prof. Guthrie), the composition of the work, and the intention of the artist. I do not think I did a good job in "borrowing the palette", because it was hard for me to get the color right from the original painting, especially with acrylic paints which I had not tried out before. As for composition, I tried to mimic the invisible flowing line in the painting by making continuous little dots in the background, and I also tried to adjust the starfish, which is a focal point in the original one, into my own painting and to turn it into the emphasis as well. The concentric circle of blue, in my own picture, is a nice attention-catcher, but compared to the original one, it is not at the right spot. About the intention, I doubt that my work is as peaceful as the one of Wadsworth's- my colors seem to bright, and there are too many things going on in the work, moving around, dancing, quite lively, whereas The Beached Margin is quieter and stiller.
Oh I do have something to say about the background. I feel that my background is very intense and vibrant, the bright colors from yellow and blue families. In Design class we have learnt that horizontal composition has calmness and stillness, so that is why I used horizontal color stripes. Additionally, Prof. Guthrie specially told me not to make the background remind viewers of a beach scene. Therefore I broke up the order of blue sky and yellow beach sand and turned them into random stripes. Surprisingly, at the same time the calmness made by a horizontal composition of beach was disturbed and gone, creating a new sense of the background, more lively and intense.
In the end I want to talk about the frame. Making a frame and a mat for the abstract painting was also a crucial part in this assignment. The instruction was long and complicated, so indeed was the process. The measurement was confusing, and how come Americans use inch instead of centimeter! Due to my confusion in inch-measurement, I failed making my first one, and had to start over. but my second one was way better. And just like what Prof. Guthrie told us, a frame did make a painting look nicer.