Monday, June 8

From Representational to Impressionist to Abstract

Reflections on a Pond
Oil on Hardboard
24 x 18 in/61 x 45.7 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2015
I'm not one to paint many abstract paintings. I can count on one hand the number I've ever done. I recently looked through my personal "collection of the artist" paintings, which I discussed a couple of blogs ago, and there are no abstracts.

That said, however, I recently ran across a reference photo on a site that allows painters permission. While obvious what it actually was, it was formatted to look as if it were a collection of abstract shapes and colors.

It was those shapes and especially the colors that spoke to me, and in fact, said to paint exactly what I saw, which was an abstract painting.

I first decided what size would be most effective, and settled on 24 x 18 in/61 x 45.7 cm because in my very limited experience, it seems that most abstracts are usually larger rather than smaller formats (while in no way comparing myself to them, think Mark Rothko or Jackson Pollock).

I then decided on oil over acrylic as the medium because my intent was to soften the shapes by blending, which is easier with oil, even though acrylic is often associated with abstract painting since it is a relatively new medium (1955).

I used the following palette: ultramarine blue, cyan/primary or Winsor blue depending on the manufacturer, yellow ochre, cad yellow light, alizarin crimson, cadmium orange, and titanium white.

Although abstract looks as if a child could do it, it actually involves as much thought, proper value/color, and competent brushwork as any representational or impressionist painting. Or at least it did for me. It took me three days to complete.

It's very different from paintings I usually do, but that's exactly why I am satisfied with the outcome.


  1. It works beautifully - and I agree, I found abstract painting to be very much harder than representational.

    1. Thanks so much for your comment. I appreciate it as I sometimes wonder if anyone is seeing my blog or my work. Best to you in your painting life.