How to Make Landscape Abstract

Where do the images in our heads come from?

When I’m painting I usually hold a vague image in my head, an abstract image if you like. It is not a clear picture like a photograph, more an elusive collage of memories that recall a certain place. I can sift through this jumble and pick out various bits that I then use in my work.

It might be a colour, a texture, or a shape. Maybe just a feeling; of lightness or darkness say, creating something more emotional.

The point is, it’s my imagination that I’m relying on.

When I’m out and about I make sketches and take photos, which I use as inspiration for my work.

But it’s the images in my head; the visual memories coalescing in my mind that I rely on the most when re-interpreting the world. (Or abstracting from it, if that’s the right way of putting it.)

It's like a journey. Or a walk in the woods.

When you think back, to recall the journey, you don’t bring a neat storyboard to mind; each part of the walk segmented in a convenient album. You recall snapshots that all blend together; vague recollections that are much more sensuous than purely visual.

You feel the time, the place. You sense your surroundings and your emotions at that time.

So photographs and sketches are great for reference, but it's my imagination that shows me what’s important, what to focus on when painting.

I guess my paintings are based on memory then, or memories, and I use my subconscious to pick the best ones.

This is why my paintings are abstract. They couldn't really be anything else.

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