10 March, 2010

Shape Up - Abstract Organic Shapes

Originally posted January 19th, 2009.

Blue Trees in the Middle Distance
7 - 3/8ths" x 5.75"
Casey Klahn

Consider the words of this blog title, "abstract organic shapes." For a sound and enjoyable study of shape, see Diane Mize's post, And Then There is Shape. An organic shape is one with a random pattern or irregular edges - just the opposite of geometri
c shapes. Abstract means non-specific or simplified. A non-tree tree, if you will. More of a shape than a technical study of leaves, foliage, branches and trunks.

Think twice before you include trunks, branches or leaves

If you want foliage, then make your tree as formless as possible.Irregular, and
abstract. Think twice before you include trunks, branches or leaves. A better direction to go instead is to ask yourself how this shape will effect your overall composition. Back all of the way out of the picture plane, and make a value and shape sketch. How big will the tree or trees be? Will they form a unified mass? What will the relationship of these trees be to the other elements in my painting?

Consider the image posted today, Blue Trees in the Middle Distance.

Since we are building a landscape here, albeit an abstracted one, we have chosen to model the form of our trees. Keep it simple, with roughly three values only. As with strict realism, we have opted to not go very broad with our value range. An almost black violet, a dark middle ultramarine and a middle violet do everything we need them to do to represent two trees on a slope. We keep the diagonal strokes all parallel, which heightens the gestural effect of our marks.

An unrelenting melancholy

Anchor the trees to the ground with well placed shadows, and a dark line where we interface with the ground. Higher key colors in front of and behind our trees help with modeling. Atmospheric effects of the ridge, sky and clouds push them back, and limiting the palette help with unity. Again, we keep our gestural effect with our marks - they don't conflict.

An almost unrelenting
melancholy pours down the picture plane, brought about by the blue and the clouds. A critique was written about this painting, here.


SamArtDog said...

How timely! A few days ago I visited your Pastel Blog and went to Tree School. Found it very useful for checking up in the pastel I posted yesterday. I'm so glad to have your blog(s) as a resource.

loriann signori said...

Shape brings us to rhythm, movement and gesture. Color marks that show beauty and feeling. I completely agree with you about questioning the effectiveness of trunks and branches.. which ones and why?... if at all.
Love your posting about trees... just plain love your postings!

Casey Klahn said...

Thanks greatly for reading through my posts at Pastel, Sam.

Loriann, thanks, too, for the patronage. I like your words about rhythm, movement and gesture.

Celeste Bergin said...

The link to your critiqued work didn't work for me, but I found it here: http://artandcritique.com/category/contemporary-working-artists/casey-klahn/
Your abstracted trees are just right! During our "gallery crawl" just yesterday Kvan and I were awestruck (no exaggeration) by the strength of abstraction. The viewer gets to participate --it's not all spelled out in every fussy way. We wondered..does one know that they will study realism and then move to abstraction rather "progressively" or does one make the decision to be an abstractionist right out of the chocks? We wondered all this and drank in the beautifully spare work. The blue mood you've provided for us here is beautiful.

Casey Klahn said...

Thanks for the heads up, Celeste. I'd better check my links (I usually do). You can look forward to new essays in this genre to go with the Prairie Series, too.

Very neat that you two go on gallery hops - and you asked a good question. My own path was as a realist ( in my pre-adolescence and adolescence ) and later developing the compositional skills. For me, abstraction in my landscapes has been a decision to compose the elements and shapes the best way I know how.

Anita Stoll said...

I absolutely love your shapes in this painting. Gives me goose bumps.

Casey Klahn said...

Thank you very much, Anita.

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