An Abstract Take

For my recreation of an abstract painting, I chose the 1923 painting, “On White II” by Wassily Kandinsky. I found the painting particularly interesting because it deals with color, form and geometric shape, rather than any actual subject matter. Also interesting to note, Kandinsky is one of the pioneers of the modern abstract movement, so I wanted to create a slight homage to the painting and find a little challenge using some of the Photoshop tools I don’t use all that often (Pen and Brush tools).

"On White II" (Kandinsky 1923)

For the background, I initially experimented with gradient and texture overlays, but eventually found that the Noise filter worked best for that “gritty” background. To get the darker edges, I used the Burn tool along the sides. For the shapes, I primarily used the Pen tool and to get the shapes to blend in with each other, I lowered the opacity slightly and set the blend mode into Multiply. What I had a lot of trouble getting the hang of was the Freeform Pen tool (which is why I never really use the Pen tool), so I would use the Transform tool (either Scale, Free Transform or Warp) and manipulate the images until they at least resemble the original painting. The large, basic shapes were not too difficult to recreate, but this painting has an abundance of detail when you look closely, so the smaller details (the checkerboards, half circles, creating transparency with the background) were quite time consuming. A detail I really struggled with was the brush strokes. Every time I attempted to create the swooshes in the upper left hand of the original painting, it continued to look really amateurish and distracting from the rest of the images. Watching tutorials, one of the main things I learned was that a stylus might not be a bad investment. With that said, here is my version…

My recreation of "On White II"

Overall, I am not disappointed with the way the recreation turned out and tried my best to do the painting “justice.” In the future, I would like to experiment a little more with filters and I have to believe there is more shortcuts to learn when creating shapes.

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7 Responses
  1. Curize R. says:

    You did an amazing job with your recreation! The way you matched your colors and your precision with layering is great! I am a fan of Kandinsky and I think you definitely captured the over all feel of the painting.

  2. admin says:

    Thank you so much! I did not really know much of Kandinsky until I researched his works, but I sure have an appreciation for the level of detail he puts into his works (some of those layers took forever for me!). Thanks for the feedback.

  3. Nancy says:

    Wow. You know your stuff, huh? That is really great. Everything from your shapes to the way you matched the feel of the worn, faded background is very well done. I’m both intimidated and intrigued! Kudos!

  4. admin says:

    Thanks Nancy! I have been playing around with Photoshop for a couple of years now, but there is a ton I don’t know…for years I have gotten by with not using the Pen or Brush tools or even using Masks. This is all trial and error for me and I’m sure I took the long way in creating this in terms of shortcuts. I’m not a pro, but if you ever need advice, I’d be happy to help, thanks again for the feedback.

  5. [...] blog, Bona Fide Alley, there was a much different abstract recreation here. While many of my peers (including yours truly), focused on recreating the original piece of abstract art, here we have a piece that seeks to [...]

  6. malicreates says:

    Peer Critique

    I really cannot say anything negative about this. You obviously know how to work with the software to recreate a nearly exact image. I thought the way you introduced the abstract painting for “On White II” was informative. You educated us on the reason you chose this particular painting. One of the reasoning being that you like that it deals with color and geometric shapes. I have expressed several times before that I enjoy using colors in many of the things that I do. I believe that it resonates to people and evokes different emotions. Your use of color in “My recreation of “On White II” compliments the original piece very nicely. It is near exact. Since we were studying emotions last week. I wondered what kinds of emotions were evoked for you when replicating your abstract. The blend of colors seem to be earth tones with an occasional splash of boldness (in the red) causing some serenity, calm and joyful feelings perhaps. The line comparison is also exact. I can tell there is extensive layer use because of the blend of colors and lines throughout the piece. I also imagine you had to use the pen tool throughout the image because of the fine and sharp lines used. There is only one small difference I see is in the original painting, that is there is more graininess in the original and yours is a clearer version of the painting. I like the way you put your own twist on this painting by making some of the intricacies distinct to your own liking. For example, the peanut shapes at the bottom are smaller in your version. In addition, the checkerboard to the far right of the screen is black and white in your version. Also the exclusion of the wavy lines on the top left part of the image. This all creates a similar image, but one with a twist. Many viewers can derive their own perspective on the both paintings. Overall, I think this was an excellent first attempt on this abstract painting. Your experience level really shows. Great job!

  7. [...] this post, I used the version of Wassily Kandinsky’s On White II abstract painting I created a while back and give it some animation. For this, I used frame based animation and [...]

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