Common Elements

As I’ve mentioned, I try to paint intuitively. Not much planning goes into the process other than choosing the canvas, the colors, and the brushes I’ll use.

In spite of this or maybe because of it, I tend to use many common elements in my paintings. Colors, brush strokes, drips, masses of color contrasted by light backgrounds. Sometimes my paintings look like they’re parts of a whole, but I generally don’t mean to make series of paintings.

Take the two in the top image, Purple Vine and Wonderland. They were painted months apart, with no intention of being a series, and yet there’s something about them when you put them together.

The oranges, the viney things, the way the spaces are separated into areas with a lot going on and areas without much going on. After I finished the second one and put them near each other, it was like they were talking. Like they wanted to be part of a whole.

Purple Vine – Abstract Landscape

oil painting on canvas
Purple Vine, oil on canvas

When I started this painting, I put some purple paint on one side and some orange and pink paint on another and made some drips and a vine. Then I left it alone for several weeks. Each time I came back to it, I knew it was missing something but I couldn’t figure out what.

Part of me wanted to add some sort of focal point inside of all that orange, but in the end I decided against it. I chose to just add smaller details to the purple section, adding shadow and light and small areas of intrigue. (Sorry you can’t see any of those areas in this wonderful photo.)

For once in my life, I chose to stop painting and leave it to a minimum. Do I still look at it and think I could add more? Definitely. But there’s just something about how simple it is that I really like.

It’s more about the brush strokes than the color, and that’s not usually the way my paintings work. I like that in the orange you can see where my brush started and stopped. I usually try to hide those spots, but for some reason they seem to work here.

Wonderland – Abstract Landscape

abstract oil painting on circle canvas
Wonderland, oil on canvas

I actually painted this before Purple Vine. (Sorry about the bad photo!) And while it doesn’t make me think of Alice in Wonderland, it does make me think of a new place, somewhere you’ve never been before. A place of intrigue and things hidden around corners.

It was my first perfect-circle canvas. To me the normal squares and rectangles that canvases come in seem to have specific boundaries that circles, ovals and other shapes don’t seem to have. Maybe it’s because the four-sided shapes are so commonplace that they seem restricting in some way.

I started with the green portion and made a boundary with an orange. Again, I made some drips and some vines, and then I let it sit for a few days. This canvas wasn’t as difficult for me to conquer as Purple Vine was, probably because I let myself continually go into it and add more and more. After the first set of drips dried, I added more in a different direction because why not?

To me that’s part of what makes it such an interesting landscape. I’ve defined up and down, but there’s still some area for interpretation. And it’s a circle, so really anything goes.

I also really like the way I’ve done the lighting for this one. How the green goes from really dark to really light, and how the orange spindly thing has the dark blue as a contrast.

I initially put Wonderland together with two of my triangle pieces. Together I called them Fantasy Land. They looked nice, and the contrasting shapes of the canvases was cool, but there was something about it that didn’t quite fit.

While Wonderland and Purple Vine were created in very different ways, I really like them together. They’re similar colors and use of drips make them look nice together, plus I really like that the vine shapes are being repeated between them.

If you’ve ever accidentally created a series of works without meaning to, let me know how it happened in the comments!

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