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Abstraction in painting

John Sprakes reveals how he translates what he observes in the natural world into a mixed-media abstract painting, with a project to inspire you to create your own abstract work

Although abstraction is one of the most significant movements of 20th-century art, we are frequently challenged by the meaning of this genre. Sometimes the visual language employed by the artist appears incomprehensible – what is it supposed to be? The answer may well be that it all depends where you start from, and where you want to go!

Abstraction developed from a number of sources, notably a movement that sought to break away from the traditional analytical representation of physical objects and vistas. Abstract painting can develop from other sources; it’s basically a derivative approach where the artist distills analytical observation into abstract visual language through a progressive selection and rejection of various processes

’Of all the arts abstract painting is the most difficult, it all depends that you know how to draw well, that you have a heightened sensitivity to drawing and colour, and that you are a true poet.The last is essential.’

Crab Boats, Cromer, acrylic on canvas, 23¾×311½in (60 ×80cm)
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About The Artist

Welcome to our summer issue in which our team of top professional artists and tutors offer a sparkling range of inspirational features to help you create your best work over the summer months. Capture the sparkle of silver light on water with Chris Rose, enliven your watercolours with moving figures with Jake Winkle, use contre-jour for dramatic effect with Jo Quigley, paint spring and summer trees in watercolour with Ian Sidaway, or a coastal scene in acrylics with Paul Talbot-Greaves. Julie Collins goes back to basics with a look at colour theory and pigments, Ann Witheridge suggests using an extended palette for portraits, Amanda Hyatt offers a variety of tricks to help you produce better watercolours and there is a host of exercises to try throughout the issue. All this and much more, plus don't forget to enter this month's summer sketching challenge set by Adebanji Alade on page 46, for a chance to win a £50 voucher to spend on art materials with GreatArt!