On Composing, Designing & Being Deliberately Abstract

I painted this 6” x 8” demonstration piece in my late afternoon, seasonal weekly coastal class. It was an overcast day with a mixture of fog and clouds. When it was nearing 4 pm, the scene was lit with a magical ambient glow. I saw varying color shifts leaning toward red within the entire view (the light's quality in a scene’s entirety is what can be referred to as the “envelope of light”). I was attracted to the glimmer of light bouncing off the distant objects across the bay and the coolness, yet relative brightness, of the water in the distance. I saw an opportunity to use the natural shapes in the bay to move the viewer’s eye toward the glint of reflected lights off in the distance. I spent a few minutes deciding on my design with a quick sketch while noticing that I could further illustrate the cools shapes against the warm shapes in the same design.

Cloudy days commonly bring out cool lights and warm shadows. Nature gave me a perfect scene to demonstrate how the cools can play against the warms in such a pleasing way. I was careful not to have equal proportions of light to dark and warm to cool in my initial sketch. With a bit of “visual pruning” to the foreground bushes, I tried to create a composition that wasn’t 50-50.

“Light and dark, warm and cool color in equal proportions produce a static neutrality, balancing each other right out of the picture, one will destroy the other.”