Starting abstracts with black or with colour?

Facing a large white panel or canvas can be daunting, but once I get started I actually love this first stage of painting. With nothing established, there is nothing to lose and no risk. 

Usually I begin by making marks with black – it’s too strong and too harsh but the strong contrast immediately gives me something to react to and to knock back. This time I am looking for a different approach. 

I’d like these paintings to be a bit gentler and less busy and really enjoy the movement of paint and not be so concerned with the structure. In the video you can see me starting 3 large panels. First I subdues the white with a soft grey. I’m not bothered at this stage by getting the exact shade or colour temperature correct. In that sense, it’s still about building the tonal layers, but starting with versions of a colour I may hope to keep throughout the painting. 

Still no plan!

The danger here is that I find something I like quickly like and it feels restrictive to move away from it. As soon as you create something you enjoy there is a risk of loss – if you see it that way. 

I enjoyed this approach so much that I came away thinking “I love this stage” and then quickly: “so why can’t I always paint like this?”

Have I been too concerned to make ‘corrections’? So my intention is to continue to paint with this feeling in mind. 

I hope (!) these paintings will be ready to show at Surrey Contemporary Art Fair in March. If you’d like free tickets to see them in person, or to see the final results then I’d love you to sign up to my mailing list


0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!