Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Nature Speaks II: Abstracts (or: Life in Lines and Colors)

Last week, I discussed the emotional component involved in creating my landscape paintings. This week, I'd like to explore the same topic, as it relates to abstracts.

"Foxglove Bouquet" - Watercolor on Paper - © Anna Bronwyn Foley, 2012

Abstract paintings, by their very nature, tend to be powerful expressions of emotion; when an artist is not constrained by a need to render an image exactly, he or she may have more freedom to convey the feeling of an image (or to simply convey feeling, even without an obvious image). In the painting above, that meant capturing the elegant form of a bunch of foxglove flowers, and celebrating their reaching shape, which speaks to me of quiet optimism. Simplifying the flowers into a collection of circular spots allows their form as a whole to stand out, and the pink and lavender hues keep the overall feeling of this piece calm and gentle.

I revisited the flower garden in this piece, but in a much different frame of mind:

"Trio of Black Tulips" - Watercolor on Paper - © Anna Bronwyn Foley, 2012

Tulips are such a ubiquitous springtime sight, their soft and cheery appearance is a bit of a delightful cliché. I decided to provide a contrast to that stubbornly sunshiny quality by rendering this bunch of tulips in black. This gives the painting a much darker mood than the standard springtime tulip painting, but the simple lines allow this piece to be quietly somber, and not harsh or grating.

"Orchid in Pink and Grey" - Watercolor on Paper - © Anna Bronwyn Foley, 2012

The painting above allowed another journey into a monochromatic environment; this time, to place a single pink blossom within a softly sober grey orchid plant. The sense here is of individuality and hope. The idea that one can stand out in a crowd - even without trying - is a powerful message, and I enjoyed creating a piece that could say so in a graceful and eloquent way.

Abstract paintings are a natural opportunity to create emotive art, and I enjoy that this style of painting allows me to focus on the feeling of an image, rather than its literal representation. It never ceases to amaze me that the full gamut of emotion - joyful, gloomy and everything in between - can be conveyed with a few well placed brush strokes and a careful choice of color. And best of all: It's fun!

Next time: Natural History Illustrations

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