Posted by: bschutzgruber | January 30, 2020

Abstract Landscapes – pt 1

I don’t know how to draw pictures.

The Kindergarten to 8th grade school I attended back-in-the-day had no art teacher. ‘Art’ class, when we might have it, consisted on a photo from a magazine being taped to the chalk board and we were simply told to “draw it” with no instructions for how to go about doing that. Our drawings were given 2 letter grades – one for content and one for neatness. The high school I attended had a fairly good art program but was only for those who already had basic drawing skills. I was in college taking a required Art for the Elementary School Teacher course before I heard the words “It’s OK to play when creating art.” That simple sentence opened a window for me as I now play with yarns and colors when I weave. But I still do not know how to draw pictures.

I’ve tried over the years to re-create some of photos I’ve taken using wet felting as my medium but I struggle. Because I don’t know how to draw pictures I can’t make the picture look the way I want it to look. Only once have I even come close, and that was with a lot of help.

When the winter catalog came for classes at the Ann Arbor Art Center, the Abstract Landscape class caught my eye:

“Using the landscape as a point of reference this class will explore compositions that venture into abstraction. This class is best suited for those with some previous painting or drawing experience who are excited to investigate the subject mater of landscape in a new way! Students are encouraged to work in their preferred medium for this class, choosing one medium for the duration of the class. Acrylics, oil paint, and watercolor are great options. Class meets once a week for 8 weeks.”

This sounded interesting. Abstract shapes could work very well for wet felting and I won’t have to draw a picture. I signed up for the class and let the instructor know that I will be wet felting with wool fibers. The instructor replied that she knows nothing about felting but is willing to let me have a go. I am the only fiber artist in the class; everyone else is working with acrylic or water color paints. All have been interested to see how the process of felting works and I’ve been fascinated to see what the others are doing.

Week 1 – Soft & Simple
Make a horizon line and work each side with thin layers of similar colors. I’m using 12″ x 12″ silk chiffon as my base. It was fun to play and am pleased with how my piece came out. Everyone was amazed at the 40% shrinkage that happens when wet felting.

12″ x 12″ dry layout


7″ x 7″ final

I like how it looks different depending on how it’s rotated!
This class is going to be fun!!!

Week 2 – Soft & Simple continued
Work with one or more horizon lines which can be at angles. Because my piece from week 1 used 2 base colors (blues and yellows) the instructor challenged me to work from a single base color. I choose reds but only got the base laid out before the end of class.

12″ x 12″ dry layout

The TV news reports of the fires in Australia influenced my choices as I continued to work at home.

7″ x 7″ When the Land Burned

Week 3 – Colorful Contrast
We played with dark vs light as well as complimentary colors. The discussion on how to get a 3D effect from a 2D surface was such an “OOOHHHHH! THAT’S how it works!” eye opener for me! I worked with blue/orange for my color contrast and played with light and dark.

12″ x 12″ dry layout

I had time to wet down the fibers before the end of class. The light/dark contrast was quite dramatic.

12″ x 12″ wet

It was interesting to see how the piece changed in appearance yet again once it was fully felted. I still get a sense of foreground and distance but have lost some of the drama that was there when it was fist wetted down.

7″ x 7″ final

Week 4 – Colorful Contrast continued
My goal for this week was to work on a path going off into the distance. I used purple/yellow as my colors.

12″ x 12″ dry layout


12″ x 12′ wet

I decided to add a bit more to the foreground to help add to the depth.

7″ x 7″ final

January has been a month filled with new insights and I’m getting more confident.
I’m looking forward to more adventures in February!


  1. Wow! Fabulous work, Barb!

    A reminder that I need to get creating and write that story which has been knocking at my door.



    • Thanks, Jen. I look forward hearing the story when it’s ready.

  2. Wonderful!

  3. […] challenge now was how to add the the waterfall details. I learned in the abstract landscape class [January 2020 blog] about beginning with what’s furthest away and ending with the foreground but I was now doing […]

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