This series of abstract paintings was done plein air in a small ancient village in Sichuan, China. The photograph below is where I was painting, but the sky had got cloudy by the time I took the photograph. While I was painting, the owner of the restaurant rearranged the tables I was painting, so I went wild a bit with my composition!.
Cat. No. 1235 Lunchtime - 27cm x 21cm - Oil on Linen - 2018
This is the actual painting. I am liking this type of painting more and more now. It is exploring the concept of near music in a painting that I talk about with my Virtual Art Academy students. Rather than doing a literal copy of a scene, trying to create something with an interesting set of shapes and harmonious color harmony. Working in China has opened my eyes to the potential beauty of brushwork that seems to add so much more to a painting than a highly blended finish. I was recently looking at some paintings from the Song Dynasty (960–1279) and was amazed at how abstract they were when you analyzed the work. Getting this balance between abstraction and realism is quite difficult to do. If you deviate too much from capturing the accurate color relationships, then the painting loses color harmony very quickly. I'd like to do this type of work in the studio on a larger scale, but somehow the colors only seem harmonious when I am working from life outdoors. More experimentation is needed I think.
The people were painted fairly accurately, even though gesturally, at one time. Then they moved after a few minutes (or even seconds sometimes). Sometimes I left them as they were. At other times I repainted them with a new posture, but only if it fitted within the overall abstract feeling of the new painting. Sometimes I also kept the ghost of the original gestural sketch. If new people came I might add new people depending on what they were wearing and if it added anything to the color feeling. So the painting kept evolving as I was doing it without ever really knowing exactly where it was going. So maybe if you looked closely enough you could find the same person painted from two different angles 'a la Picasso'.