I’ve had several different painting professors in the past, all very different people with incredibly different styles and techniques. The one thing that they did have in common was the “push/pull” concept within a painting.
What the “push/pull” concept is is the use of color or texture, or perhaps how much paint painted in an area on the image’s surface, to “push” certain shapes of the composition to the back and “pull” the most important shapes to the front.
This idea is pretty darn basic, but it is this push/pull of abstract artists that I’m most inspired by and believe I’m beginning to think by this rule as I work on the creative surface.
Hans Hofmann is the first artist I think of that uses this technique very well and in fact does a trick on the eyes of constant push/pull movement throughout all his pieces. Marc Chagall is another artist, though different and not necessarily abstract, who used color and shape to move the eye and depended on these two elements to tell his strange, dreamlike stories.
The illustrator of Firefly Mountain, Peter Sylvada, also does this with colors and shapes. This one in particular reminds me of Eyvind Earle.
And this little gem, The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-Roach, also has a great push/pull abstraction with color, light, and shape that I’m inspired by. That bear is behind the bench, and the bench is clearly in front of the bear, however the two fight back and forth to see who can draw the eye the most and be priority of the composition. It’s wonderful.
Mike Mignola is another favorite artist of mine who does this.
Now I definitely do NOT have the skills of these artists, but I can’t help but notice and enjoy the push/pull the acrylic and digital paint provide. Sure I use color to push some shapes back and pull some shapes forward, but it’s the texture that I’m using with the push/pull in mind.
Another push/pull I’m finding in my work is the almost sfumato style of making certain pieces of the image more focused, usually what is in the foreground for the viewer, and blurring the background. No, I don’t think I took this from Leonardo da Vinci, I simply can see better up close than far away. My daily vision is this kind of push/pull and I would not have noticed that without going back to the Stitching Butterflies pieces.