"Abstract art has come into being as a necessary expression of the feelings and thoughts of our age...it is part of the constant change and vital searching that energizes every true art."
Leonard Brooks

Understanding Design Styles
© 2000 Nita Leland

tree design styles Abstraction really isn't such a big leap from realism as you might think. Any subject you paint can be turned into a non-objective painting. The more you strive to depict an essence or essential nature of a subject, the more abstract your work becomes. This illustration shows how a realistic drawing of a tree becomes a Mondrian-like abstraction that doesn't necessarily indicate what the original subject was. Try this with a subject of your own choosing:
  • First, make a realistic drawing of the subject, including details of form and texture to make it look three-dimensional.
  • Then, in another drawing stylize the subject by eliminating as much detail as possible, including only those features that are necessary to identify, but not describe, the subject. For example, I eliminated many of the branches and simplified the shape of the tree.
  • Finally, rearrange the elements present in the subject to create a non-objective design on the page. This abstraction can either be pure design like the abstraction of the tree shown here, or if you wish to suggest certain qualities of the original subject, for example the vertical, solid character of trees, you might design using mostly wide vertical shapes and eliminate most of the branches.
Expressive art, whether realistic or abstract, has abstraction as its foundation, so try to capture the essence of your subject through stylization and simplification.

For more design ideas see The New Creative Artist.

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