Breanna in Red, 16 x 12, inches, oil on linen
So may be you noticed my preoccupation with abstraction of late? Well, I've been doing some figure work, hoping to apply what I learned about abstraction in the Urban Aria series to a different kind of subject matter.
Figure painting like this is a very different experience from painting cityscapes, and in some ways, easier to push abstraction because I'm not dealing with certain rules of representational painting like extensive perspective drawing and atmosphere.
What difference do those things make in terms of abstraction? I've found that they matter a lot, abstraction requires abstract thinking, and not just distorting shapes / colors/ brushstrokes here and there. In a cityscape (or landscape) painting, if I were to create a convincing sense of space, things like perspective and atmosphere must follow a set of rules which basically, go against this abstract thinking. It's really difficult to reconcile the instinct to follow the rules and that to break the rules. You can't do both. A perspective line is either correct, or incorrect. It can't be both.
How one artist works around that paradox differs from the next artist, which makes each artist's style unique. In effect, we're talking about how an artist analyzes and interprets the visual world; his identity.
But I digress - let's not get into the heavy stuff today! - As I was saying, with the figure isolated from the environment–that is to say, I'm not painting the surrounding environment – I'm not worried about things like perspective and atmosphere (OK, there's a little bit of that, but not much) and I can just focus on the drawing of the gesture, brushwork, surface work, color, and two dimensional design. And my colors aren't tricky. I just use few colors and paint them tonally. I've pretty much taken out the complex temperature shifts out of the equation, too.
The bottom line is, fewer rules of representational painting, more freedom to abstract. Drawing the figure is a rigorous discipline, to be sure, and has its own stringent limitations but figure drawing is something I enjoy immensely and besides, even in cityscapes and landscapes, drawing is one rule that I consciously try to adhere to. I don't break that rule.