Landscape to Abstraction: How Does It Happen?

 Lupine and Poppies 4" x 9" Gouache on Arches Board

Lupine and Poppies 4" x 9" Gouache on Arches Board

There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterward, you can remove all traces of reality.
— Pablo Picasso

Many of the paintings I have created for our Rose Compass exhibition are small abstractions. I am venturing into the same places as the rest of our group, but my response to these wilderness encounters goes through a different process. How does it happen?? My process includes observation, memory and invention. Let me explain:

First, as I venture into these wild places, I am open to the sounds and the smell of the place. I feel the power of the color and unique shapes carved out over time. I strive for the totality of the experience. I will use these memories back in the studio layering my direct response to the landscape with my inner landscapes of invention and imagination. My painted surfaces now have their own life; they do not mimic nature, they transcend nature. 

 Red Rock Reflections 3" x 3" Gouache on Arches Board

Red Rock Reflections 3" x 3" Gouache on Arches Board

Inspired by her memories of her feelings...
— Joan Mitchell
 Super Bloom II 3.5" x 3.5" Gouache on Arches Board

Super Bloom II 3.5" x 3.5" Gouache on Arches Board

My process is very much inspired by the great abstract expressionist, Joan Mitchell who was "inspired by her memories of her feelings..."  Mitchell had a certain affinity for her beautiful sunflowers which she had planted on her two acre estate in Vetheuil, France (a small town just north of Paris near Claude Monet's home in Giverny.) 

Like Mitchell's love for flowers, the wildflowers of the Santa Ynez Watershed inspired me. I depicted the wild and colorful Lupine and Poppies during the March super bloom on Mt. Figueroa.

I also portrayed the wild California Sunflower that blanketed many spring fields along the Santa Ynez River. And, after the many fires of 2017, I painted the Poodle Dog Bush that chases in after the fires. But don't let the beautiful purple blooms invite your touch, it will produce blisters and swelling more severe than poison oak or poison ivy!  

 

 After the Rains - California Sunflowers 5" x 15.5" Gouache on Yupo

After the Rains - California Sunflowers 5" x 15.5" Gouache on Yupo

 After the Fires - Poodle Dog Bush 5" x 15.5" Gouache on Yupo

After the Fires - Poodle Dog Bush 5" x 15.5" Gouache on Yupo