Abstracting a motif

For a recent lesson in pastel painting, I created an image based on an old photo taken on a trip to New Zealand. The painting is quite naturalistic, and conveys both the "reality" and the "feeling" of the scene and the event, and I'm quite pleased with it as a good example of my typical style.

 The Sunlit Path pastel on sanded paper 14 x 21 unframed $500

The Sunlit Path pastel on sanded paper 14 x 21 unframed $500

The following week, I gave a lesson in acrylic painting, and decided to explore abstracting the same motif in acrylic paint, primarily using a palette knife technique. I had a wide black deep-set frame I wanted to use, and a canvas to fit it, so I chose this exercise to match the drama of the frame.

This time, although the composition is the same, I pushed the colour palette by saturating the colours throughout and adding brighter accents. As in the pastel painting, I first created an underpainting in a range of pinks and purples, and left some of it showing through the final layers. I also simplified the shapes and strengthened the textures. Using the painting knife in various orientations, I created wide flat swathes of colour contrasted by fine linear accents, and used a rubber wood-graining tool to generate more grass-like textures in some areas.

 Nearly There acrylic on canvas 20 x 24 framed $750

Nearly There acrylic on canvas 20 x 24 framed $750


The result is not as typical of my style, but I like the effect just as much as the more naturalistic pastel. Which work is "better"? The question only has meaning in a subjective sense.  Both works are successful in terms of concept, composition, contrast, colour, and clarity. Each one expresses and fulfills my intent for the specific piece.  The only question for a collector is, "Which one do you like better?" And every answer is valid!