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Abstract Watercolors – What is Deconstruction?

I finally understood something this past week that I probably should have gotten ages ago.  Frank O’Cain, a really wonderful abstract artist who teaches at the Art Students League, talked about “deconstruction” as a technique in abstract painting.  What I  understand that phrase to mean has evolved (thank goodness).

Initially, I thought you would paint your abstract painting, let it dry, and then add white on top (gouache or acrylic) to pull it all together.  Frank talked about push-pull but I, frankly, didn’t quite understand how you used the white to accomplish the push-pull.  [The idea is to confuse the viewer about what is in front and what is in back.]  So I just added the white and it either worked or didn’t (but I didn’t understand why).

Then I showed Frank a number of paintings, some with the deconstruction and some without, and his reaction was really informative.  To make a very long story short, what you do with deconstruction is paint your painting, add streaks of white on top, and then go back and add color to accomplish the push-pull.   So the underpainting is critical and must be very colorful.  Because when you are finished and have added the white on top, you go back and try to figure out how to make the background (behind the white) become the foreground (by extending the background color in places over the white foreground).  Ureka!

So I went back to a few very colorful sketches I had done and tried to apply what I now know.

I haven’t shown them to Frank yet, so the jury is still out.

Meantime, I went back to a couple of paintings I had done with deconstruction (but minus the real understanding) and decided I liked the end result anyway.  Wakodahatchee Wetlands II really portrays the sense of the Florida wetlands I saw last April.

Wakodahatchee Wetlands II

Wakodahatchee Wetlands II

Monster in the Gulf (below) really captured my outrage at the environmental violation in the Gulf on the part of BP and our EPA (looking the other way).

Monster in the Gulf

Monster in the Gulf

This really conveyed my sense of an uncontrollable monster loose in the Gulf, destroying the environment with no real consequences.

Winds of Change

Winds of Change (above), on the other hand, conveys my sense that things are changing, that people are becoming less tolerant of such violations of our need to protect the planet we live on, that such violations will no longer be tolerated.  God, I hope I’m right.

Anyway, I think I’m getting better at using the tools available to me to express my concerns.  This is probably another example of push-pull or, now you see it now you don’t.

To be continued …

Posted by ruthhurd on November 6, 2010

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