View Full Version : abstracted from flowers

05-07-2005, 03:45 AM
these are a couple of small pieces I've done for an upcoming pastel show.

I am starting a new series of work where I abstract from flowers - the colours came from some pansies but the shapes took on a life of their own and a bit of a bearded iris sort of crept into one!

Any feedback/crit/comments/ideas welcome

:cat: Vivien



photographed behind glass so a little bit washed out

size: 10 inches square

Paula Ford
05-07-2005, 09:47 AM
My favorite colors!! Very nice!


Anita Murphy
08-12-2005, 02:14 PM
I really like these. Was interested to see some of your other work after seeing a post on the drawing forum. Wonderful colour!

08-12-2005, 04:03 PM
Beautiful colors! really like it,

08-12-2005, 05:05 PM
Vivien - these are great! I noticed them in your signature line earlier on. Great colours and mark making... what is the colour of paper/board these are done on?

Miss Pastel
08-13-2005, 12:42 AM
Hi !!!

I think those pieces are really marvellous !!!! Great work really !!!


08-13-2005, 01:40 AM
Fabulous, rich colors! Yum!

Katherine T
08-13-2005, 06:09 AM
Viv - great colourwork and lovely 'feel' to them. How does the process of abstracting work for you? I'd be really interested to know more.

08-13-2005, 08:18 AM
Vivien - these are great! I noticed them in your signature line earlier on. Great colours and mark making... what is the colour of paper/board these are done on?

Thank you everyone - it was a surprise to see this thread resurrected! :)

I underpainted in watercolour - so the underlying paper is white and may have been Bockingford, I can't quite remember, it could have been Sandersons Waterford. I love underpainting when I use pastels.

How does the process of abstracting work for me? mmm difficult to explain but I'll try,

My abstracts are virtually always abstracted from, rather than totally abstract.

First of all I need to look at the subject that interests me and do lots and lots of stuff in sketchbooks exploring it - representational, looking hard, deciding what interests me. Lots of stuff gets locked into the visual memory this way. My representational work has elements of abstraction and so it is only a short distance to push it further. Gradually some elements become of most interest. I'd planned to do close ups but didn't want to do a Georgia O'Keefe - she's already been there and done that :cat:

One of the things I'd been looking at before doing these was a tray of pansies that I'd bought - I love their 'faces'. What had appealed to me most were the pale mauve ones with all sorts of gorgeous subtle shades and patterns, the work I started from these was horrible and sugary sweet - exactly the stereotype people think of with pastels! it got painted over - destroy the evidence! :evil: I'd also looked at bearded irises some time before and loved the fall of the 'beard' - want to grow some in my garden now.

I found that the ones that actually interested me to paint from weren't the ones I liked best as flowers - there was a plant with the most incredible flowers that were burgundy and deep violet and cadmium yellow sort of bleeding into the burgundy. not the prettiest but the colours wereincredible.

I sat down and started putting big vivid loose washes of watercolour on the paper with a big brush. At this stage I only have a vague idea of what the final piece will be like - the dynamics, the movement, the relationship to the edges and the basic underlying structure are all that are evolving. I never know how these pieces will work!

(I had an interesting conversation with David Prentice at his last exhibition and his large canvasses and pastels are done the same way - lay colour down, turn canvas, more colour and eventually start to pull an image out - he never underpaints when using pastel though - anyone who doesn't know his work do google his name with painter/paintings/artist - to cut out others of the same name - and look at his work, it's absolutely wonderul).

When it was dry I started pulling out the shapes that I liked, pushing depths, bringing out lights and at this stage the beard of the bearded iris appeared in one as it just worked for me in the image. I love the way that the underlying colours break through the pastel when you underpaint - most of my work involves colours coming through from a layer below. I can rarely use watercolours without using oil pastel as a resist and pencil/pen additions at the end for this reason.

I sometimes underpaint with acrylics.

so - the image involves with a lot of push-pull until I feel it's what I want, about the flowers in this case without actually being 'a' flower, with something of the essence of the subject in it hopefully but about marks and colours and flow and just being a painting with warm and cool colours working together.

I don't know how clear this is but that's the nearest I can explain


Katherine T
08-13-2005, 11:46 AM
Vivien - thanks for that - I found it very helpful. I keep feeling as if I'm on the verge of becoming "a bit more abstracted" but never quite manage to push my self over the edge!

I've just been for a google and some sites with works by David Prentice on can be found here (http://www.moseley-art-school.co.uk/page12.htm) and here (http://www.modernbritishartists.co.uk/prentice_index.htm).

08-13-2005, 11:48 AM
Well just as I was typing a message about "abstract" pastels and the dearth of them - you've brought this beauty to my attention. Love the vibrancy and how the colors just sing off each other. Hearing that pansies & irises were involved just gives it a bit more punch. Have you titled it yet?

Did you include it in your show and if so... how did it go?


08-13-2005, 12:28 PM
Many thanks for your comments, Vivien - it's just such an interesting process, this 'abstracting from'... I was so pleased when I first managed to distort some boxes into something else and started playing with colour as more than what I actually saw. I'm keen on giving the flower theme a go...

08-13-2005, 01:56 PM
Vivien - thanks for that - I found it very helpful. I keep feeling as if I'm on the verge of becoming "a bit more abstracted" but never quite manage to push my self over the edge!

I've just been for a google and some sites with works by David Prentice on can be found here (http://www.moseley-art-school.co.uk/page12.htm) and here (http://www.modernbritishartists.co.uk/prentice_index.htm).

David Prentice has sort of 2 voices - those links take you to his observational stuff with natural colours, which are wonderful but ..... try this link (http://www.art.com/asp/sp-asp/_/pd--11519101/English_Air_Viridescence.htm) which shows one of his more abstract pastels - these are the ones that make me wish i could run faster - and tuck one under my arm .... and leg it!

Yes pushing over that edge is TOUGH! I spent my second year at uni really struggling to abstract in a way that meant something to me rather than simply creating a pretty pattern, which I absolutely didn't want to do. I am totally confident that you can abstract your work further sometimes if you keep pushing - like David Prentice though, don't stop doing what you do now as it's lovely.

Barb I didn't sell them at the pastel show but did sell them to a private buyer afterwards. :D and :( I needed the money but didn't want to let them go really as I'm only at the beginning of that series.


08-13-2005, 03:50 PM
I really love your work. Such beautiful colours.

Katherine T
08-13-2005, 05:51 PM
Vivien - having stood on top of the Malverns in more or less that spot it seems to me that link is showing a very realistic sort of abstract! It's sort of what I want to keep doing - keep the shapes and values and push the colours and lines. In the absence of an original, maybe I need a print!

08-14-2005, 04:17 AM
thanks applebee :cat:

Katherine, I thought you'd like his work - it's the degree of abstraction - and just a bit further - that I most enjoy and the way I'm thinking when I abstract.

DP shows at the John Davies Gallery in Stow on the Wold (every 2 years and I'm afraid you've just missed one), The Cowleigh Gallery in Great Malvern - permanently work on show there and they sell very good quality prints if you seriously wanted one. He also shows at Number Nine the Gallery in Birmingham.

DP's abstract pieces are also about time - as they become more abstracted than this one they have slashes of vivid colour - which just really works with the piece and these delineate time changes. They are fascinating and you get the sense of weather systems passing over and moving through the landscape all in the one image.

08-14-2005, 10:55 PM
Abstracts often leave me a bit cold, but not yours. I like your work a lot. Just the hint of the source in the flowere sense, the rich warm colors, Just very pleasing. Good balance of color, harmony, and forms.

08-15-2005, 09:04 PM
Vivien, the colors are full of airy warmth, fire with atmosphere. Very nice! Glad it was revived since I didn't see the first posting.

08-16-2005, 04:53 PM
thank you :cat:

06-28-2007, 10:25 AM
Good stuff - an original way of doing something that really stands out and makes a statement. Great work.