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Approaches to abstraction: Exploring shape and colour

“Like a good poem, a good abstraction attacks your feelings before your understanding.” Robert Genn

If you’ve wanted to create more abstract work and are interested in exploring new approaches to contemporary landscape painting, then this workshop is just for you. 

Working with landscape artist Rachel Cronin you will spend two days receiving structured tuition on both the formal elements of making art like colour, tone, pattern and shape and the exciting ways you can break the rules of landscape painting. Because abstract painting is such a broad subject the focus will be on abstract use of colour and simplification of form and composition in this workshop. 

Day one – based at Snowshill Manor Gardens (National Trust)

On day one you will begin with some expressive landscape sketches and then spend the day editing, simplifying and reconfiguring elements to create several vibrant collages that simplify and abstract the landscape. 

We will spend our first morning gathering information from the grounds of the beautiful Snowshill manor by experimenting with several expressive drawing techniques such as using our non-dominant hand, blind contour drawing and continuous line drawings. 

We will take ourselves on a colour finding walk and use our pencils and crayons to create collage papers of the shades and moods that we find in our venue.

Rachel will also talk you through an exercise that encourages you to focus on mass, shape and line so that we begin to think about our paintings as an arrangement of differently scaled elements rather than trees, flowers and borders.

During the afternoon we will explore how different shapes relate to each other by using our collage papers and sketches to create new compositions.  

Day two – based at Willersey Village Hall

We will begin day two by looking at our studies from day one and selecting one or two that grab our attention. We will work these up into a painting using a 30cm-by-30cm wooden painting panel that will be supplied. Rachel will demonstrate ways of working with a limited palette of acrylics so that you can create the colours you want from your paints, paying particular attention to saturated and desaturated colours.

You will receive guidance on both how to start and how to build up a painting by creating textures that give your work a sense of history and depth. We will also spend time exploring the contrast between soft and hard edges and using dry media on top of our paintings.

Day two will also help you to explore how far you want your work to venture into abstraction as we investigate new colour schemes and ways of simplifying our work further. 

For day 1 you will need:

  • A portable sketching kit to include:
  • A sketchbook (it doesn’t matter what size but you will need to carry it around!)
  • A selection of pencils, charcoal, a rubber and a sharpener
  • A brush pen
  • A selection of colour pencils to include watercolour pencils, Caran d’Ache Neocolour crayons, coloured pencils, Stabilo Woody crayons, oil pastels, soft pastels.
  • A pair of scissors and a glue stick

For day 2 you will need:

  • Your acrylic paints to include Lemon Yellow, Ultramarine or Cobalt Blue, Burnt Sienna, Crimson, and Paynes Grey
  • A set of brushes suitable for use with acrylics
  • A jar for holding your water
  • A palette
  • Kitchen roll
  • Your drawing kits and sketches from day one
  • Palette knives or paint shapers if you have them
  • Spare canvases, boards or paper if you would like to work across multiple paintings

Rachel will also be bring spare crayons, brushes and paint colours, so do not panic if there is something you don’t have! There will also be a chance to look through the work of other artists on day two and all students will receive handouts on techniques and colour theory.

Note: This will be a workshop for those with some experience of painting.

Tickets £210 (13 places) to include the cost of entrance to Snowshill and a 30cm x 30cm wooden painting panel







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