Earlier in the summer I was painting at Owls Head marina and had my fill of painting the harbor, so I turned around and painted this little bicycle leaning against a shed. I liked the color of it, and the shape of this old-school bike frame. A subject like this requires plenty of accurate drawing, which is a challenge I do enjoy. But more important to me was figuring out when to emphasize an edge, and when I could let the edges of objects disappear. Playing with edges is one of the first things I can do to abstract a realist painting. Abstracting the scene doesn’t usually mean making things up and getting sloppy, but to me it means playing around with visual relationships in the painting, using the realistic subject as a foundation to build upon. For instance choosing to emphasize the contrast around the seat, and in the shadow around the front tire. And also choosing to let the back tire and parts of the handlebars blend into their surroundings. These things allow me to create a composition based on what I think makes a good painting, and not just unthinkingly copy exactly what is there. I also like to use areas like the overgrown grass to play with some more calligraphic brushwork… to allow for some more lyrical line.
This painting is 16×16″, oil on canvas.