Monday, January 19, 2009

Abstract Organic Shapes

Blue Trees in the Middle Distance
7 - 3/8ths" x 5.75"
Casey Klahn

Consider the words of this blog title, "abstract organic shapes." For a sound and enjoyable study of shape, see Diane Mize's post, And Then There is Shape. An organic shape is one with a random pattern or irregular edges - just the opposite of geometric shapes. Abstract means non-specific or simplified. A non-tree tree, if you will. More of a shape than a technical study of leaves, foliage, branches and trunks.

Think twice before you include trunks, branches or leaves

If you want foliage, then make your tree as formless as possible.Irregular, and abstract. Think twice before you include trunks, branches or leaves. A better direction to go instead is to ask yourself how this shape will effect your overall composition. Back all of the way out of the picture plane, and make a value and shape sketch. How big will the tree or trees be? Will they form a unified mass? What will the relationship of these trees be to the other elements in my painting?

Consider the image posted today, Blue Trees in the Middle Distance.

Since we are building a landscape here, albeit an abstracted one, we have chosen to model the form of our trees. Keep it simple, with roughly three values only. As with strict realism, we have opted to not go very broad with our value range. An almost black violet, a dark middle ultramarine and a middle violet do everything we need them to do to represent two trees on a slope. We keep the diagonal strokes all parallel, which heightens the gestural effect of our marks.

An unrelenting melancholy

Anchor the trees to the ground with well placed shadows, and a dark line where we interface with the ground. Higher key colors in front of and behind our trees help with modeling. Atmospheric effects of the ridge, sky and clouds push them back, and limiting the palette help with unity. Again, we keep our gestural effect with our marks - they don't conflict.

An almost unrelenting
melancholy pours down the picture plane, brought about by the blue and the clouds. A critique was written about this painting, here.


Gesa said...

Music in Mirabell
by Georg Trakl
(published 1913)
translation Jim Doss/Werner Schmitt)

A fountain sings. Clouds stand
In clear blueness, white, delicate.
Silent people wander thoughtfully
Through the old garden in the evening.
The ancestors' marble has turned grey.
A line of birds streaks into the distance.
A faun with dead eyes looks
On shadows that glide into darkness.
Leaves fall red from the old tree
And rotate inside through the open window.
Firelight glows in the room
And paints dim specters of anxiety.
A white stranger enters the house.
A dog leaps through decayed lanes.
The maid extinguishes a lamp.
At night the ear hears the sounds of sonatas.

... the unrelenting melancholy caught my eye, and made me look for translations of the Austrian poet Trakl. Many dark, very dark, but always full of expressionist colour.

Casey Klahn said...

This is possibly the loveliest comment I've ever gotten on my blogs!

I had written the "melancholy" statement advisedly, because I didn't want to say too much (or brag) about my work.

Glad I wrote it now.

Casey Klahn said...

Do you suppose the faun in this translation is a deer fawn (as we spell it) ?

Robyn said...

I realise now I see many tree shapes like this in Tuscany, Casey. If I can manage to capture some when the weather is more enticing it will owe a great deal to you.

Casey Klahn said...

Now you understand why I feel the Tuscan hills remind me so much of the North Cascades & Olympics (Mountains)here in Washington. When I visited Italy, I exclaimed, "this is like the North Cascades, but with great architecture!"

I will return to Italy someday, and you may buy me a glass of Grappa.

Gesa said...

Casey - faun... hm, I hadn't known of deer fawn, so I assume it to be the mythical figure - see here:

I don't know, but I am not too sure if 'unrelenting melancholy' gets to it, for me it's a lot playfulness involved... many of Trakl's poems are unrelenting, however - this is clearly one of the lighter ones and it gets the moody sky in it too.

I hope you'll be expanding on your tree series (while I while away - albeit slowly - on anything useful to say about WK). Work is back in full swing now, unfortunately.

Casey Klahn said...

I thought it was the Mr. Tumnus type of faun. Had to ask, though.

Take your time, as I'll be going along fine with this series and the Signori interview.