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Realistic Abstracts


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Table of Contents

Numerous colourful examples of works of art by various artists
Clear, in-depth descriptions and analysis of realistic abstract painting
Includes examples using a wide range of water-based media, including watercolours, gouache and acrylics

About the Author

Kees van Aalst is a visual artist who lives and works in the Netherlands. He runs workshops and courses, for example in watercolour painting and oriental painting techniques, and is the author of several books. He works to commission, and sells his work to private individuals and organisations all over the world.


Intended for artists with some familiarity with painting, this title explores the popular approach of loose, impressionistic representations of nature. With vibrant demonstrations and simple instructions, Kees van Aalst shows how to 'transform reality' in this way. He explains that 'a picture is a painting about something, not a picture of something. Therefore you need to interpret your subject, not imitat it.' The book aims to give readers the skills to create fluid, gestural paintings rather than detailed reality and it is one of the few that actually explores this approach thoroughly. Work by other artists is also featured, as is detailed and thorough information, such as advice about colour harmonies and composition. There are plenty of helpful tips about how to produce paintings that are loose and expressive, not quite full-blown abstract art, but abstractions of reality.-The Artist I confess I hadn't heard of this artist/author/teacher before who is from the Netherlands, after reading this book I would love to attend one of his workshops. To me his paintings portray a sincere love of painting, there is a lot of joy and enthusiastic excitement in the brushstrokes and fluidity of the paint that shines through. As the book is aimed at more experienced painters to challenge and stretch their working methods, rather than beginners, there is a very short discussion at the beginning about colours and materials that might be needed and some examples of techniques. It's almost as a reminder rather than one of those long and laborious explanations that take up vast portions of other books, which personally I find frustrating. The book is aimed at those using water based media although in many ways I think it is useful for all mediums. Rather the majority of the book is used to explain the concepts of seven principles, (unity, contrast, dominance, repetition, variety, balance, and harmony) and seven elements, (line, tone, colour, texture, form, proportion and direction). Each is eloquently explained with lots of illustrations. As a list I would say it is a very useful guideline for analysing and improving your work. The onus of the book is to transform, '...reality by means of elimination and simplification' with reference to these elements and principles. You are encouraged to, 'Paint what you feel, not what you see.' which is a far cry from the 'paint what you see not what you think you see' often chanted at art school. It's not a how to paint book as such but more a how to express what you feel, encouraging you to develop you own self expression in a fluid, gestural and impressionistic way. I see this book as an encouraging bridge between the realms of competent amateur and the first steps to becoming an What is a realistic abstract? Surely the whole point of abstract art is that it is non-representational and offers an alternative to narrative and figurative painting? There are many books on how to achieve both, but this is a book covering what the writer calls the gray area between the abstract and figurative, and how to paint it. This is all rather fascinating, and I spent some time just looking at the examples. Here are pictures that suggest landscapes, cityscapes, flowers, people and more. The subject of the work is always recognizable - even if barely - but painted in an abstract and loose manner. I was reminded of views seen though a heat haze, a mist or even in the mind's eye and enjoyed the suggestions of what was there rather than a mere photographic representation. This is not a book of staged projects, but one where you get ideas on how to do a certain style of art. As such, it is not one I would recommend for the beginner. Rather, it is aimed at somebody who has tried other styles and is looking for something new and a way into it. In here are recommendations on what brushes and colors to purchase, as well as ideas to work through to do with frame of mind as much as anything else. There is something frequently relaxing about the pictures in here, so it is not surprising that the author talks about art as medicine.A" If you have seen one art book too many on how to paint a certain subject in detail and want to go the other way, this is for

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