Richard Diebenkorn is the perfect representation of traditional skills applied in contemporary, or in this case abstract, ways. He is best known for his Ocean Park paintings, which break down a landscape into simple, yet accurate, colors and shapes in a way that gave rise to the popularity of abstract expressionism.
I love his use of color, which is so spot-on that the fact that the subject matter is sometimes a little obscure does not bother me. You can tell immediately where you are, what type of day, what part of the world, and, in a sense, why you are there. The temperature and value of his works are impressive, to say the least. If he had not had a formal, traditional training, I do not believe they could be nearly as successful.
I have included here only his landscapes/cityscapes, but he was an incredibly prolific artist before his death, and worked in many different subject matters. I encourage the study of him for landscape painting and perhaps Euan Uglow for figurative if you are looking for artist to master copy to learn how to effectively use simple shapes to describe a complicated subject….