Abstract Landscape Art – Expressing Yourself
I’ve always found landscape art work quite interesting. However, being a slave to a particular location’s physical characteristics wasn’t of particular interest to me. Creating a scene that defined a mood more than a location captures my interest. This is where abstract landscape art becomes engrossing to me.
The Lure of Plein-Air Painting
It may seem contradictory, but going out into the great outdoors and situating yourself midst your subject encourages the use of all your senses, whether consciously or not. The water creeping higher from an advancing tide. Light glistening off a cresting wave. Sunlight streaming between trees swaying in the wind. All these scenes open up your senses of hearing, seeing, touch, smell and even taste!
Think of Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night. It’s a dreamy interpretation of the night sky and village as viewed from his window while staying at a mental health asylum. This painting opens itself to many interpretations, all derived from the abstract expressiveness of the landscape. We may not be sure of what Vincent was thinking as he painted, but we do know the subject as expressed by him is infinitely open to our own views and feelings.
When I view a scene, I initially take in all the scene has to offer. What is the overall mood? Does it have morning sun? Is there a light rainy mist? Is it a monotone sand dune or full of color like a wildflower meadow? And on another note, am I fully energized or am I chilled? My emotional state may strongly influence the mood of the painting.
Spring Thaw: Abstract Moodiness
Living close to the sea in Atlantic Canada offers opportunities to visit remote rural villages at all times of the year. Visiting a village or coastal area in the summer offers a completely different mood than a visit during late winter or early spring. When I view these locations, I try to capture more of what I am feeling than what I see.
During early spring, you’re pretty tired of the snow and the damp that has been the norm for most of the past six months. The view is still monochrome and still a bit dreary, but there is also a faint hint of what the future has in store for us in the upcoming season – sunlight glistening on the telegraph wires, a bit of glare on the wet dirt road, the hills still brown, but offering hope – nature’s twilight zone between winter and summer.
The sea and the hills are very loosely defined to add to the mood, but also to allow a certain focus on the village itself. I guess the main feeling is a bit of melancholy but with distinct hope for the upcoming season!
Summer in the City: Playfulness
When summer is in full swing, there is a certain amount of joy in the air in places that experience long winters. When I want to express lightness and fun, I try to add a lot more color in my abstract landscape art.
With the trees, I want to show the dancing light and in the water I want to show blues and whites that show the sun sparkling on the pool waves.
The abstractness in the people seem to come about as I view these people enjoying the beautiful day with conversations merging instead of having a well-defined expression – I feel like I’m viewing an afternoon instead of a single moment in time. Maybe the idea is to have your painting be similar to a short video!
In much of what I create, I like to drop off the peripheral views of a scene and focus straight ahead. Perhaps this is because I’m not really a multi-tasker and like to delve into one project at a time. You never know!
Visual Isolation: Solitude
Walking on isolated beaches conjures up all sorts of thoughts. I am all alone and feeling isolated. Sometimes this is restorative. Other times you feel all alone in the world. But then, throw in signs of human activity. A fish shack. A fishing boat. You’re not alone. You’re now midst someone else’s world.
Your thoughts are between their environment and yours. With this thought process, the background becomes indistinct as I focus on the fisher’s shack and boat, but with the pebbles and water glistening in the afternoon light. My thoughts then go to the occupant’s livelihood and their ability to eke out an existence from the land or water. Would I like to do the same thing?
Each of these thoughts adjusts the mood expressed in the painting as it develops. By creating an abstraction of the scene, your art now expresses a mood rather than just making an observation.
Interestingly, how a landscape evolves very much depends on the season, time of day and your mood at that moment.
Abstract Thoughts: The Art of Expression.
As I view a landscape scene, I really have no idea how it will turn out. A certain style may dominate, but the end result is a mishmash of thoughts, mood, season, time of day and perhaps whom you’re with.
Rather than realistically painting a scene, an abstractly expressive landscape may actually be a window into your mind, for better or worse. It’s often interesting that the painting’s expressed mood may only show up toward the end. Perhaps not what you originally felt when starting your creative process, but a work in progress.
I’d love to know what others think of this concept. Perhaps people paint or acquire art to create a mood that they can return to on a regular basis.
Let me know what you think.