Paint like Richard Diebenkorn Ocean Park Series – American abstract painting

Paint like Richard Diebenkorn Ocean Park Series – American abstract painting


Richard Diebenkorn is a famous American painter, well known for his abstract Ocean Park series. I will paint like Richard Diebenkorn using elements of my hometown IJsselstein in the Netherlands. Just after this. Hi there, my name is Albert van der Zwart, welcome to Imperfect Paintings … … where it is all about improving your painting skills by looking at art, yourself and the world around you. One of my subscribers, Sharon, asked me a few weeks ago to do a video on Diebenkorn … … an unknown painter to me. Sharon: Thanks! I hope you like the video. I even bought this wonderful book about his Ocean Park Series to help me, link in the description below. Richard Diebenkorn is a famous American West Coast painter who lived from 1922 – 1993. I, being a lover of abstract painting, fell in love with his work. This painting is known as Ocean Park series #27. What I see is color planes and white lines, as if he used masking tape to divide the colors. This dark blue line in the white is even more dominant. At the same time you see this thin line. And in art, just as in anything, when you take a second look, you’ll see more. Like for instance these lines between the different colors of blue. Or in this one you’ll see lines he painted over. All these lines are nice but how can you create an interesting composition … … when you want to paint like Richard Diebenkorn? My first reaction is ‘building plan’ or a map like this one of the Santa Monica Ocean Park area. I think I recognize the lines of this road or this one in these lines in his painting. And these sketch-like ones look like someone is designing things. This one has almost a three dimensional, a figurative aspect. To create your own Diebenkorn style painting you can copy the lines of one of his paintings. In my opinion it is way more creative to find your own composition. Let me show you how I do it. I take the map of my hometown IJsselstein in the Netherlands and focus on the latest added neighborhood … … called Zenderpark (Broadcast Park), because of the giant Broadcasting tower nearby. I see this interesting part here with a bend in the road. And also these repeated lines. I also have a shot of a row of houses. And this old church tower in our city center, build in 1535, in the sun … … and on the foggy 1st of January this week. Happy New Year! Based on seeing these paintings, I tried out different options for my lines. So I took a charcoal stick, oil pastel, soft pastel, thick oily pencil, a normal pencil and a marker … … to see which one I could use for the lines. When I rub with my finger four of them create stains, not a good sign. When using black paint you don’t see anything special. When using transparent yellow you can see clearly the problems they cause. Only the marker and the normal pencil can be used. But I don’t like either so I mix a grey, combine it with diluted acryl medium gloss … … and that will be my choice for my painting. Before painting the lines I covered my whole sheet with white paint. This sheet is 65×65 cm. Unfortunately it is 120 grams paper instead of 200 grams I normally use so it curled a bit. Let me show you how I combine elements to get to a composition. At this moment you can say it’s just a matter of choosing colors and paint the whole thing. It’s not that interesting to look at in this case so I jump through this like a time laps. Richard Diebenkorn worked with a limited palette of colors and mixed them in different versions. Like in this one with all these variations of blue … … or in this one where I don’t know how to name these colors, beige-yellow-orange perhaps. Somehow my painting isn’t a Richard Diebenkorn painting yet. So I looked on the internet. I would love to walk the streets of Ocean Park Santa Monica, but I can’t … … so I virtually walked around and came across these photographs. Lovely ocean colors, interesting bike lane, hotel, house and pool, all linked to Ocean Park Santa Monica. With these new found colors in mind, I go back to Richard Diebenkorn. And as always when I take a second look, I see new things. Here, half the painting is blue. Or here, mainly yellows. I now see that mine has too many colored pieces. So I create bigger planes of one color. The weather conditions over here are quite different at the moment so I will add some greys too. I don’t know if you think or feel the same about this but for me it brings more peace in this chaos. Because I work with transparent paint, you still see the previous colors through the next layer … … just as in the Richard Diebenkorn paintings. A lot of his paintings are large pieces like 250×205 cm (100 x 80 inch) or 200×200 cm (78 x 78 inch). Maybe this is a good moment to show you some other Richard Diebenkorn paintings. He also painted interesting portraits. Funny thing is, I especially like the background in these paintings. They look like the prelude to the Ocean Park series. You can see it is finished, but it doesn’t feel so for me. And it is this green plane in the middle that bugs me. I remember the ocean colors and will see if this will solve the problem. What I like about making a Richard Diebenkorn style painting is that in the beginning it all looks so simple … … but it turns out to be more complicated, as usual. This time it is a game of playing with your senses, will the colors match or is one too dominant? In 18 years he completed some 135 paintings, you can calculate he had over a month to finish one. That gives you a lot of time just sitting and looking to puzzle out … … the best compositions and color combinations. When you take the time to look at his original paintings in a museum … … you probably can figure out the steps of his process, like which colors he used first. Unfortunately, I can’t recall ever seeing one in a museum in the Netherlands. I would love to hear from you which painter you would like to see a video about. Let’s talk in the comments, I read and answer them all. Another painter I like is Charles Daubigny, a French landscape painter … … and a member of the Barbizon School of painting. He likes to put some extra color in his skies. I went over to a museum to see a number of his paintings to be able to create a sunset over the ocean painting. Click on the link and I will see you over there in the next video.

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