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April Get Dusty - Abstract in a restricted palette

Updated: Mar 31

This month we are starting our 2024 Get Dusty trial period and will be introducing a few new categories. The April Get Dusty challenge is an abstract painting in a restricted palette. That doesn't mean that you have to paint in monochrome, but you should stick with two main colours and use others only sparingly as accents.

Every member can enter two paintings, deadline is April 25.

Laura Pollak, Gather round

Our guest judge Laura Pollak explains what she expects from an entry into this new category:

I feel abstract art is a bit like a good work of fiction -   bits of reality, mixed with imagination and ambiguity whereby the viewer finishes the story.

I never really liked abstract art until I took a couple of workshops.   

For instance, though Jackson Pollock’s work are innovative, I cannot respond emotionally to it. I feel a bit more connected to Kandinsky through the color and movement.

Personally, I approach every painting, whether a landscape or an abstract, the same way.   I construct it using the principles of design, with the rule of thirds.   I often do thumbnails to see if the design in my head will work on the easel.

I view my own abstracts very critically. I look for dramatic lighting using ‘value’ to make the colors ’sing’.   By working with a full value scale, I am able to achieve a glow.   And by accident, I happened upon a theme that works for me, whereby I make the light source emanate from within the painting versus something outside of the painting like the sun or a street lamp.

When judging, I look for good strong design,  effective use of values, and the creation of drama with the use of angles.  These angles can lead my eye around the painting and keep me engaged.

Of course, technical skill in the handling of the medium is key.   Finally, I look for mark making and how the artist uses lost and found edges to bring me back to the focal point.

And the frosting on the cake is when an artist ’surprises’ me with some unexpected element that thrills the eye; like a new texture, or with an object that is hidden in plain sight to be found.  That is pure delight!

I look forward to seeing your abstracts in the competition!

Laura Pollak


Associate Artist of Women of the West.

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