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In the Studio This Week – Abstracts and Dreams

In the studio this week, I ventured into the world of abstracts. I found the process freeing and frustrating. It’s difficult for me to paint without a model or reference photo. I also ventured into tapping into my dreams for creative inspiration. The jury’s still out on whether my dreams were worked for me or not.

Abstract I

I started this on a large piece of watercolor paper – 22” x30” – mounted on a piece of hardboard. Even though I didn’t have a reference to work with, I chose a split complementary color scheme with the thought that it would provide unity to the painting.

I started with light washes of acrylic paint in shades of red (magenta) and shades of green. I then dripped acrylic ink in various places across the paper. Touches of spray paint were then applied. I started to see forms reminiscent of trees in a forest (or maybe utility poles).

Abstract painting in shades of magenta and green

I then added some oil paint to provide some luminosity. I like the colors but don’t think it checks all the boxes as a successful abstract. What do you think?

Final abstract painting

Abstract II

I chose to work smaller on this next abstract. I used many of the same techniques with washes and drips and spray paint. I also wanted to use some techniques that gave me trouble in previous lessons – collage and texture paste. I also wanted to use a more neutral color palette. I also included a note from a card sent to me. You can see it in the upper left corner.

Abstract painting with collage elements

After my initial efforts, I watched the lesson on composition and decided this was a major fail in terms of composition. It was bottom heavy and lacked the full range of values for a successful abstract. I did see a mountain scene emerging from the mess and decided to give it more “sky.”

Abstract landscape.

I was having trouble with a patch of texture paste running vertically along the right side. Since the overall painting reminded me of the red rock mountains in Arizona, I saw a “hoodoo” formation. I de ided to bring it into focus with the rock color.

Abstract landscape with a hoodoo formation

Something was still missing. . .

The Dream

I’ve been reading about lucid dreaming and how it can be used to foster creativity. Interestingly enough, I had what I’d consider a lucid dream about this time. Lucid dreaming occurs when you are aware you are dreaming and can even interact with the dream. The dream I had didn’t seem to have much to do with art, but the colors pink and hold played a role.
I decided this must be a sign and might be just what the painting needed. i scraped the colors across the painting along the bottom of the mountain form and the hoodoo formation.

Abstract landscape highlighted with pink and gold.

Ummm, maybe not what I was hoping for!


Abstract painting might not be my style. I like the concept of applying dreams to my paintings but was disappointed with how it turned out. I’m. Ot giving up on either at this point.

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