Traces of reality

Ebb and Flow – acrylic on canvas, 150 x 305 mm, 2015
Ebb and Flow – acrylic on canvas, 150 x 305 mm, 2015. SOLD

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

I have just finished a large abstract painting commission (this isn’t it ― I’m saving that post for another day). I love commissions. It was, however, quite an intense experience. I don’t know why but I find abstracts a lot more challenging than painting landscapes or birds or flowers… I guess that’s because the painting itself is the frame of reference rather than a photograph or something you can see in front of you. Which means that anything is possible. And I find that difficult, possibly because there are too many options. Some people are happy to start with an idea, a mood, a colour, a texture… I guess I’ve discovered that I like starting with an image. Of something. Anything. Anything at all.

Nugget Point, original photograph, 2013
Nugget Point, original photograph, 2013
Nugget Point, reference image (cropped, edited and flipped 180°)
Nugget Point, reference image (cropped, edited and flipped 180°)

So I decided to work on a little abstract just to move some paint around : ) and used a photograph taken a couple of years ago on the Otago coast as my starting point ― a photo of waves crashing against the rocks. It’s an image I’ve been wanting to paint for ages because the place left such an impression on me. I’ve called the painting ‘Ebb and Flow’ and it will be available for purchase in the very near future.

8 thoughts on “Traces of reality

  1. I love the Picasso quote…for if I were truly painting from nothing, you’d imagine I wouldn’t get so frustrated when the image doesn’t turn out like I envisioned. There’s always a starting idea, even if only in my head. And I agree that the possibilities there can be overwhelming!

  2. I love your reference image Anna … who could not be inspired by coastal rocks and precipices …
    and I’m with you on the something . anything … it gives a jolt and kick start . Ebb and Flow works for me 🙂
    Looking forward to seeing the new commission .

    1. Thanks, Poppy. I plan to post photos of the new commission next month. I’m just varnishing it now + drying time + posting to Australia… Hope you won’t mind waiting a little longer : )

  3. I love this! I’m not a painter, but I find when I sit down to write a short story, even though I am usually starting with a blank page, I often have to start with an image or a phrase that hopefully when combined with the right Point of View produces a meaningful story.

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