Working on my representational pieces today, my thoughts drifted to abstraction, and to the relationship between the real and the abstract in what we observe. Shapes and patterns observed in nature can of course be very abstract, especially when taken out of their context. My project is to explore these rather than paint the landscape (context).
I am strongly drawn to the shapes, patterns, and textures in the country around me. Some are miniscule, like the pattern on a piece of piñon bark, and others are on a grand scale, such as the flow of sandstone down a deep slot canyon. I've tried to represent the latter by texturing the cliff formations that I've painted over the past couple of years, but I have not been entirely successful. The abstraction of the texture on the canvas sometimes clashes with the realistic representation of form and plane. In retrospect, using light as a factor might have helped unify the two, but right now I am pulled more strongly toward trying the completely abstract, even if later I work my way back to a measure of representation. If I get rid of the form and plane, I'm left with shape, pattern, texture.