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Abstract Landscape Painting: Developing an Idea

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Step 1: Seeing the Potential
Abstract Landscape Painting

I regularly get asked where I get the idea for an abstracted landscape painting from. It’s hard to explain, because it comes from the way I see a landscape; not simply as trees and hills, but shapes and colour. I reduce the detail down in my mind’s eye to basic forms. This series of photos will show you visually what I mean, how one idea leads to another, and show you the potential for an abstract in an ‘ordinary’ landscape.

The photo here is of a piece of the landscape somewhere on a backroad in southwestern Scotland, between Dumfries and Penpont. I was driving along on my way to find the cairn that the landscape artist Andy Goldsworthy has made for his home town; it was a cold, wet day despite it being the middle of summer. The area is full of intense green, rolling hills covered in dark lines of dry-stone walls, white dots of sheep, and occasional splashes of brilliant pink foxgloves.

So what is it about this particular bit of hill among all the other bits that caught my eye so strongly I stopped to take a photo? It’s the lines: the dark brown narrow ones, echoed by the wider green, and then the yellows. It’s the curve of the hill against the skyline. Simple, repeated shapes with a limited palette of natural, earthy colours.

Next page: Develop the Potential

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