Part 5 Exercise 5 – Abstraction from study of natural forms

We are asked to look closely at a familiar natural form and expnding what you see in an arrangement of lines, shapes and colours. Suggestions are provided like flowers, leaves, butterfly wings, rock crystal, shells, seed head …

I first thought of doing an abstraction of flowers from a vase and did a few studies in my sketchbook:

I wasn’t too happy with how this was panning out, although I do like the monochrome version of the composition, it has a ghostly feel to it. I used pencils, pens (Pentel ink) markers (Tombow) and watersoluble oil pastels. I decided to stop and find something more suitable as a subject to base my abstract on. I was going to throw away the peel from a mandarin orange and had lain it down first on the table top, before putting it in the bin.

Mandarin orange peel

I really liked the shapes created and decided to try this as the subject:

I quite liked how this was going along – the above two are made using the same medium – i.e. Tombow, pencils, Pentel ink pen, water soluble oil pastels but I also used Caran D’Ache pastel pencils and some other markers. I still felt I could abstrac the shapes a bit more – so here is the final idea:

‘Deconstructed Mandarin’ mixed media on W&N sketchbook paper – about A5

I had another shot at this using some of my W&N oil bars:

The last time I used these was on canvas board quite a long time ago and they had ‘sealed over’. That’s the only thing I have against using pigment sticks/oil bars, they are so messy to work with – you have to peel off the skin using a sharp knife (i invariably end up cutting myself in the process, so a bit of blood gets mixed in with the painting). I do like them though, as far as texture is concerned and on a hard rigid surface they are great fun to work with, the more you move them about, the more lipstick like they become. There is a gloriously oppulent demonstration of R&F pigment sticks on YouTube by Charles Forsberg, I reckon the finished painting he did on that video would hae to be sold for many thousands of pounds but it’s worth looking at just to see how crazy you can get with these things (see below Bibliography for link).

I used cad yellow, orange, lemon yellow, sienna and red, as well as ultramarine and white. They don’t perform well that well on paper though. Anyway, this is the finished result of the oil bar attempt:

‘Deconstructed Mandarin 2’ oil bars on Clairefontaine mixed media paper – A3

I wasn’t too happy with the composition of the oil bar one either, as it had been done in a portrait format and my initial preparatory work was done on a squared off area. I had another go, this time using soft pastels:

‘Deconstructed Mandarin 3’ soft pastels in sketchbook

The composition is a bit more uniform and therefore quite boring in my opinion. I will leave it there for now.


Charles Foresberg video – R&F Pigment sticks

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