Climbing Ladders

Taking a break here from whimsical paintings and now introducing some abstract art! A few weeks ago, I resumed Tracy Verdugo’s Abstract Mojo Class and now on Unit 3. I know I am not consistently following my many on-line classes as I tend to go back and forth but I do try to fit it in between my own paintings and come back to them whenever my mind needs some fresh ideas. Luckily these classes are for life with no value dates so I am happy to dip in at my own leisure. This unit is called “Pattern, Rhythm and Harmony”, and what fun it was to paint together!

The Start

The purpose of this lesson is to form patterns with lines and repeat them in different sizes and forms thereby creating rhythm. Then we work with a limited but simple palette of colours of our choice which are in harmony with each other as we shall see later. I worked with a large A3-size watercolor paper by Cansons for this, and as usual secured the edges with masking tape so they don’t curl up when wet with paint. Random lines were then formed across the paper by rolling on some paint (acrylic ink) with a brayer, starting with a neutral color like antelope brown. Whilst Tracy herself drew made two lines next to each other, I made multiple ones from light to dark overlapping one another.

Creating Rhythm

Whilst waiting for the ink to dry, we then find some styrofoam containers (ones used in food packaging) and cut out some long thin shapes. These were then applied with some ink and stamped onto the paper repeatedly, following the flow of the underlying thick brown lines and thereby creating some rhythm and interesting patterns. As with the harmony, we choose some colors that are harmonious with each other, ie. adjacent to each other on the color wheel. Tracy herself used a gorgeous of combination of greens and teals but I myself went for the violet’s, magenta’s and pinks! The suggestion was to start with light colors on the bottom and work your way up to dark, then let dry before adding a layer of the same shapes using lighter shades.

Work it Out!

At this point, I was a bit doubtful about how it was all looking. The whole concept of angular shapes and lines is really not my style. Also, I found that although I do used pinks and purples a lot in my work, I felt the color scheme was still a bit dull. But I persevered. Part of the fun of following classes like this is that you explore beyond your comfort zone. As we progressed, we were encouraged to add some color blocks by glazing on the colors from our palette. This was also a good time to incorporate opposite shapes like little dots. I used the back of a cocktail stick and tapped some white ink around random places. Then in order to give the painting a little boost, I got a bit cheeky and introduced some fluorescent pink! Now that’s better.

Finishing it Up

As I continued, I kept going and going, enthusiastically piling more layers of related lines and dots to demonstrate contrast of shapes, sizes and colors whilst maintaining the harmony. What certainly helped was incorporating some white to bring back the empty space and introducing some bright colours like fluorescent pink as an accent. At some point, I felt the painting could really be considered complete. And here it is! After finishing it, the first thing I thought about it was ladders with the smaller horizontal lines across the larger lines. How symbolic that must be seeing creativity is an infinite ladder of progress and opening your eyes to more.

Once again, another challenging but enjoyable class with Tracy! Classes like this are great when you feel your work needs something a bit different from the usual. By going beyond your comfort zone, you always learn something new and broaden your horizons, hence stimulating more creativity. I’m very pleased with how this piece turned out although it is not my normal style, and I should definitely follow Tracy’s classes more often. Looking forward to the next one and climbing yet another step with the ladders!

Click here for more about Tracy Verdugo and her amazing classes!

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