Pink Lake

Great to be back following on-line classes after a big break! The other day, I decided to resume Tracy Verdugo’s Abstract Mojo classes. Introducing here a quick but fun painting from Unit 5 Lesson One “Abstracting the Landscape”, which was quite good timing because I have loads of beautiful landscapes from my holidays in France to share! The objective of the lesson was to revisit the line and color studies from the past lessons and as Tracy quotes “the use of dynamic expressive areas of color and mark making against more solid flat planes and how a balance of the two can make for a stunning successful abstract painting”. Sounds exciting!

The Landscape

I have loads of impressive landscape photos from the recent trip, but the one that stands out most for this purpose is the one I took in Southern France. The Camargue region is a delta renowned for its wetlands, created by wind blowing sand from an offshore bar back onto the delta, leading to isolated large pools of seawater between the old coastline and the sea. When the pools seasonally receive large inputs of seawater, a watery, marshy landscape of wetlands and salt beds are formed in the area. This of course makes it a perfect spot for developing salt! Here in the photo is the salt mine captured from afar. Yup, it’s a pile of salt! Notice too this tinge of reddish blue of the wetlands in the foreground . Did you know in the past that the area was even known as the pink lake? This is because the microscopic algae, Dunaliella Salina, are found in highly concentrated salt water. It gives salty water their pink color by synthesizing beta-carotene (red/orange pigment found in fruits and veggies) to protect itself from the sun. Hence with the stunning view of such unusually-colored wetlands in the foreground, I thought some play with colors would be a good idea. And of course, the linear composition of the scenery certainly makes a great study of lines!

The Start

A piece of A3 Mixed Media paper (Cansons) was taped down on the sides to prevent warping. I started with some streaks of Payne’s Grey ink with the dropper and spread it out with a wet brush. Then some Quinacridone Magenta was patted on with a wide brush, and whilst that was wet I incorporated some Antelope Brown. This was then followed by a wash of Cobalt Teal. It was all random and I just put down what ever came out of my head whilst trying to follow the direction of the photograph. For this painting, the colors were limited to the mentioned choices with Titanium White mixed in when needed.

Keep Layering On

I kept going and began adding layer after layer of paint using the same color scheme for the foreground and sky. With some Titanium White paint appeared now the salt mines along with some faded lines in antelope brown. Nature tools such as twigs and leaves were also used to paint thinner lines on the foreground. Then to introduce some accent to the painting, I decided to scribble some squiggly lines using a cocktail stick dipped in fluorescent red gouache. It turned out a bit dotted but I quite liked the unintended effect! Lastly as the composition needed some balancing, I doodled in two flying birds on the right corner with a white gel pen. Just tweaking further by bit of colors here and there for the foreground, and I was ready to go!

Of course, the painting looks almost nothing like the photograph of the scenery. Remember though this is an abstract painting which expresses my perception of it with all the pretty colors and formation of lines. It was the study of color and lines, and I am glad to have been able to explore it further in this exercise. Whilst I look forward to more of Tracy’s classes, I can’t wait to do similar experiments like this one with other picturesque sceneries I came across on vacation. It is also not very often I get to create landscape paintings, and this lesson gave me another insight by combining both landscape and abstract together. Thank you so much for this idea, Tracy!

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


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