I’m starting a new painting for the abstract project working with people’s photos to capture the muchness of the image. This current work in progress aims to capture the peacefulness and depth of feeling captured in an amazing landscape photo of Bowron Lake.

Muchness – the quality or state of being in great quantity, extent, or degree; or in the sense of the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland, the full and true essence of someone (or something, I presume).

This abstract landscape in progress is a challenge–as an abstract–because so many of the forms in the photo influence the feeling of it. This is not always true. I’ve been exploring the symbolism of colour and movement quite a bit, which can be completely abstracted–divorced from recognizable shapes and objects.

But the symmetry is such a big part of the muchness of a landscape with mountains reflected on a glassy lake. Symmetry feels peaceful to us, so I felt that was an important element to incorporate.

Given the unknowns to this one, I decided to work on a small study to try a few theories out before diving into the full painting.

Draft 1

This is a small study–11 x 14″–for the larger full-sized painting, which will be 24 x 36″.

Abstract landscape in progress - original painting by Julie Karey

Soooo long story short, I am working with this image, aiming to use abstract expression to convey these feelings or sensations, and I find myself being pulled toward a more traditional representation that is formally true to the image. I could incorporate symmetry of abstract shapes, I suppose, but then I wonder how much it matters that what is reflected are mountains. Mountains remind us of our smallness, our context in the grandness of nature, which we often forget we are a part of. And of course water is naturally pleasing to us. We are mostly water. Of course it pleases us to see. I suppose I could evoke the sense of water in other ways…

This abstract landscape is definitely a work in progress.

Questions leading to more questions, and perhaps too much logic and not enough intuition coming into play here.

So I chose to stick with my initial gut decision to marry the true forms to the abstractions of fluid paint and intuitive work with lines and colour and contrast.

Draft 2

Abstract landscape in progress - draft 2 - original painting by Julie Karey

This study draft has still got a lot of personality, for sure, but it is less abstract than I would like. I’ve also lost the sense of interconnection created by the poured paint in the first draft. On the other hand, I have gained the right mood through cooler colours and more marked contrast.

Then there is the sense of depth in a landscape like this. Depth is also an important contributor to the feeling of awe and calm the image creates. It creates a sense of spaciousness, openness, which is both peaceful and intriguing. So I also feel it is important to work depth of field into the focal point. I have a few tricks up my sleeve, but I’m still working out how I might achieve this.

Looking forward

I’m not quite sure what to think at this point. I’ll be speaking with my fine friend about what she thinks before moving on to the next phase. I’m keen to know how these renditions come through and how well they ring true.


I’m also curious to hear other people’s thoughts. Please share what you think and how you experience these two drafts of an abstract landscape work in progress.


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