The Tree You’re Looking For: #2

I decided that I’m sick of painting the same kind of thing over and over. Or rather, it’s not that I’m sick of it, it’s that I am stagnated because I’m always doing the same thing.

So I decided to try something abstract.

mmm… *burp*

Ok – what a righteous failure. Yeah. It’s awful. it says nothing, it achieves nothing, and it’s ugly.

Why post it then? Because I learned from this.


The biggest thing I learned is that I need to limit the pigments that I use in any given painting, and I need to make sure those pigments are harmonious. there is a color is a person in the composition. In order to use color well, I have to understand that each new color is a new actor on stage, or a new note in the song, a new spice in the food. It’s possible to have too much of a good thing.

I know about the school of thought that says “only use a few colors.” But I want to use different pigments. I don’t want to be restrained to Ultramarine Blue, Raw Umber, Yellow Ochre, and Anthraquinoid Red for every painting. I want to use Amazonite or Rhodonite sometimes. I want to use Hooker’s Green – even if it is a convenience color.

Using a wide variety of different pigments just adds confusion. Instead, I should allow myself to use new pigments, but use them intentionally.

In fact, that should be a central tenement of my painting. No matter what I choose to do, I should be intentional with that action.


I also realized how important mass is in defining the elements of a composition. I didn’t realize it until after the painting was finished, but that shadow on the left is the only thing that allows this painting to even remotely deserve to hope toward being successful. I think the reason it helps so much is because it’s the only thing in the image that provides a hint of mass. The yellow fields provide a sense of depth, because they are warm, and they have sharp defined edges with the splatters, but if it weren’t for the shadow, this painting would be nothing but depth of field. The shadow actually helps to ground the painting by giving it a sense of weightiness.


This is another strength of the painting in my mind. The yellow fields on either side of the blue help balance the image. And, the mass of the shadow offsets that balance, giving the painting an interesting cantilevered feeling. These, work well with the strong diagonal to lend a dynamic motion to the composition.

In short, I think this painting is bad because of my color choices, but if it weren’t for that, I could have had a successful abstract painting here.

Abstract: 2

Next I tried another abstract painting. This time, I used masking tape to block off sections, and painted trying to reduce the color palette to a lot of warm colors. There is something I really like about this, particularly the way the blue reacts with the yellow beneath it. I don’t like the composition, because it doesn’t really go anywhere, but the color scheme is interesting to me. I also saw something very reminiscent of desert dunes, a and I decided to try to go with that on my next one.

Dunes: 1

I didn’t bother trying to finish this one, for obvious reasons. Instead I trashed it and just went in to the next one.

Dunes: #2

I tried to capitalize on the successes of that abstract painting here. I don’t think I ended up with a good painting, but I do think I’ve stumbled on an interesting idea that I’ll explore more in the future. I really like the splatters in the foreground, and the addition of a tree in the corner there. I think it needs some shadows, and I don’t think the blue is as successful in this as it was in the abstract painting. I think this failed because it isn’t abstract, and it isn’t realistic either. It lives in a nothing world.

I’ll need to explore this more in the future.

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