John Salminen Abstraction

by Kathleen Huebener in Works in Progress

Providence opened to me the door of abstracts through the artist John Salminen.

John Salminen thinks in abstract forms before creating his world-renown paintings of urban life in the big cities. His no-nonsense method of creating an abstract from a few curvilinear and geometric items has enthralled me from the beginning.
From John, I learned some important implements to enhance abstracts.
First, there are three important concepts of line,
Irregular, Unpredictable, and Oblique,
to keep in mind when creating abstracts.

Second, use of values is a vital part of abstracts. Using the value scale of zero: white/lightest to nine: black/darkest, and being oblivious to color, one creates a movement in the art piece.

Third, determine dominance to establish the painting as a whole. This refers to various combinations: warm versus cool, geometric versus curvilinear, bright colors versus dull, etc.

Fourth, maintain the 80% to 20% ratio in dominance. If using geometric versus curvilinear, for example, 80% geometric 20%Curvilinear or vice versa.

Fifth, have No Bull’s Eye effect!
Integrate darks into middle and light values,
such as surrounding nine values with six or four values.
Finally, use the Push Pull method, using values as the median ruler to determine what locations exist for the best possible design. Darks recede; lights come forward.
As my first piece implementing what I learned from John Salminen, I created the abstract “Maquoketa.” Maquoketa is an Iowan treasure area of caves. After spelunking in the caves, as one ascends out of the cave and into the light, the array is a lush delight for the senses. The greens burst into bright shocking greens. The birds’ singing is the sweetest symphony ever heard. This is blessed sensationalism is what I compare to my acute realization of perceiving the true essence of abstracts. And I owe it all to John Salminen and the Big Guy upstairs.
  Check out John Salminen’s web site:
Whether you paint abstracts or realism, it would be worth your time.