Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Abstracting Figures

Three Posers  sold
Last Friday morning my friend Elisabeth and I painted together. She lives on one of the barrier islands on the west coast of Florida (off the Gulf of Mexico), and I have the good fortune to spend time in the same locale in November and the winter months. Elisabeth is a very talented painter of beautiful landscapes.  Our painting challenge was to 'play and experiment', do something different and complete what we started in one hour.

Sitting on the Edge
Sometimes the hardest part of painting is deciding what to do. My sketchbooks are full of images and plans for all sorts of paintings. I love drawing the human figure and often attend open life drawing studio sessions. During these sessions I usually start out drawing the figure quite accurately, however I inevitably start to distort proportions and exaggerate line and so have a collection of abstracted expressive figure drawings that sometimes find their way into larger paintings. I have included some of these works above, at the left and below right.

Seated Goddess

The day before our Friday painting date I had been looking at these drawings and did the small painting below. I love to accentuate the hips and contrapposto stance - giving the figure lots of attitude. A modern day Venus and so I am calling her Venus of Longbeach.

Venus of Longbeach  12"x16"
The last painting I will show you is the one I completed in the hour with Elisabeth. I had made a very simple thumbnail in my sketchbook of this pose, loosely based on the  The Bather of Valpincon by Ingres, but of course exaggerated. I was really drawn to how the shape of the figure filled the rectangular 'frame of reference' and decided to see what would happen with paint.

I began by painting the figure and then added the orange in the top right area around the figure and really liked that. Then I darkened the area below the ledge on which she is seated for some value contrast. I felt that the upper left quadrant needed more than just colour and so I added a palm branch (part of the Florida scenery) and sort of attached it to her through colour. Looking at it a day later it appeared to me that the figure was engaged in a common activity here and anywhere there is water: sitting at the beach watching the sun set (orange) over the water (blue below). And so it's called Island Sunset.

Island Sunset  18"x24"


  1. Oh Patricia...breathtaking! Stunning! What beautiful painting...

  2. Thanks Kim - those words mean a lot!