John Salminen: A Designed Approach to Abstraction

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Video Length: 2 Hours 40 Minutes

Join John Salminen as he uses the language of design to build a complex layered abstraction.

The design analysis and thinking he uses may be applied to any subject or medium. John begins with simple objects as a springboard to suggest shapes and line. He then launches on a sequence of steps to create intriguing and unpredictable effects all the while using design principles to create a cohesive captivating painting.

John floods in warm tones, dry brush blending, scrapes in darks, and masks lines. He creates a variety of line and edge qualities, careful to always add to the whole. John explains the rationale for each step. He capitalizes on the strengths of watercolor - delicate and subtle middle values. He verbalizes his composition and problem solving strategies and uses the design principles of dominance, texture, linkage, and repetition to bring unity to the painting. John uses a variety of techniques to create interest - salt, dry brush blending, splattering, mouth atomizer, collage, and acrylics.

Are you intimidated by non-objective art? A little fuzzy on what makes good shape integration and design? This is the workshop for you. To John Salminen, design is the common language binding all styles of painting. Salminen, a recent gold medal winner of both the American Watercolor Society and National Watercolor Society, speaks the language of design fluently. In this workshop, John applies his core design principles to a complex, layered abstraction. You'll learn to create interesting shapes, capitalize on the strengths of watercolor and keep your painting intriguing and unpredictable. You'll also discover composition and problem-solving strategies that apply to all media.

John focuses the workshop on core principles of design: dominance, texture, linkage and repetition. As he sketches common objects to seed his composition, he begins to establish shape and line type dominance. He explains his criteria for creating interesting shapes and applies them as he plans his values and establishes an unpainted area of his painting for his powerful white shape. You'll learn the practical and artistic reasoning behind establishing color dominance as John brushes in a warm surround.

Throughout the workshop, you'll see John enhance his watercolors with salt, dry brush blending, sponges, spattering, and a mouth atomizer. John uses masking extensively and creatively to control his applications. Most importantly, he demonstrates the careful judgment and self control necessary to create effects that enhance the painting rather than tricks that steal attention from overall design.

You'll share in his thought process as he attacks design problems at each stage in the painting. He adds and extends dark shapes to create linkage between isolated elements. He increases contrast to add the illusion of depth and introduces complementary washes to restore color balance and create rich, complex grays.

Each line, edge, wash and texture in his painting is unique. He edits predictable shapes, gradually varies pigments and creates repetition through subtle echoes. John caps the painting with a truly unpredictable mixed media component. He integrates collage elements, extends his value range with acrylics and adds bold line with a permanent marker. To create exciting, intriguing paintings and ground yourself in the fundamentals of design, join John Salminen in A Designed Approach to Abstraction.


BONUS CLIP: Changing Edge Quality

In this clip from his video workshop, A Designed Approach to Abstraction, painter John Salminen teaches you a quick, inexpensive technique for creating hard-edged, linear shapes in a watercolor. John uses regular masking tape to mark off a dark, triangular shape in his abstract composition. John shares his design rationale for adding hard edges to his composition and offers tips for masking as he works.



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