Starting to appreciate Abstract Art

painted canvas detail 2

Ten years ago I had no appreciation for abstract art. I couldn’t understand it and I wasn’t interested in it. But when you make art yourself you view others art with greater interest and newborn curiosity… You step closer and see everything more clearly. In a way when you think of yourself as an artist you get “artist eyes” I guess you could say…

These days all that has shifted for me. I can feel myself being drawn to different forms of abstract art. I want to stay with some paintings and spend time with them. For real. I love abstract art that looks like a shabby street corner, half torn posters and old whithered paint. I love the mix of collage and paint. I also like art that is painted with wild abandon and covered in black scribbles, where you can feel the aggression/passion coming towards you. I like sweet baby coloured art with calming fields of sunshine and doodled flowers and birds.

There is something in some colour and form combinations that I simply love. It is the way some paintings makes me feel that captures me. At art galleries I walk up close to some pieces of art just to indulge in the way the paint has been applied to the surface. I am truly fascinated by how beautiful paint can be; the texture, the hues, the individual brush strokes, the motion it stirs.

People that don’t paint might think that abstract is easy, that anyone could do it. It’s just paint. But I don’t agree to that. It is very easy to create a mess, to create something you don’t like, to paint a composition that is not at all pleasing to the eye. I assure you. I have made many such experiments. It is easy to make a mess!

painted canvas detail 1

When I visit the flickr pool for abstract paintings I notice there are a lot of paintings there but not many I truly am drawn to. Some are plain ugly to me, well, many of them! I love Mark Rothko’s simple cubes. I find the way Mary Ann Wakeley and Diana Sandoval (both found on flickr) paint beautiful. It is magnificent. I also enjoy what Pam Garrison do with painted flowers in a abstract landscape of paint. That is sweet to me.

The more I learn to appreciate abstract art the more I myself want to paint abstract paintings. Of course, that is just how I am. And how could I resist at least trying? I started on a small canvas this summer but then stopped and put it away. Or rather, I took a break. Marten Jansen who wrote a guide on How to paint abstract art says that stopping is important:

    That is, you paint random forms by instinct, without a preconceived plan. With this approach it’s important to know when to stop and start thinking about what you’ve done. A beginner will have a tendency of painting layer over layer and merging down most of the painting’s color. Try not to paint layer over layer in a random, uncontrolled way. When you have the feeling you can’t go on without overpainting existing brush strokes, stop painting altogether. I can’t overstate the importance of knowing when to stop painting and to continue later, when you have a clear head and contemplated what you have painted. Don’t assume you can finish your paintings in one go, it takes discipline and judgment to know when to stop and wait for new insight and ideas.

I can appreciate abstract art now, that is my conclusion. But can I paint it? I will let you know what my answer on that will be. This where I stopped painting in July:

Paint on a canvas - first try

10 Responses

  1. This post really resonated with me. I started an abstract painting a while ago (inspired by Kelly Rae and Pam) and it sat for a while, a couple of times. It’s progressing but slowly. I love to let it sit out and when I have a few moments, here and there, I just dabble a little more. It’s a wonderful break between feeding children, cleaning children and entertaining children to just add the perfect green, or blue, or pink.

  2. Great post! Ooooh….I love the colors you’ve started with so far! I agree….it’s not as easy as some think. Keep on keepin’ on!!!

  3. This is something that’s been percolating in my head, too. While I have long had an admiration and love for abstract works, learning to work with paint myself has definitely changed that love, deepened it, and created new awareness.
    When visiting the Hirshhorn a couple of years ago, I spent an extended period of time in a small gallery of works by Amy Sillman. I suddenly wasn’t engaged with just the visual presented to me, but much more so with the How. In one of the canvases, there was a small area of a green glaze–I suddenly realized what a choice that was, not mere happenstance. Not only did the artist likely blend that specific shade of green, but then she chose to add a glazing medium to get that effect. And those were all choices made even before paint met canvas.
    I suppose this is a much longer way of describing what you said so beautifully–I found that I had earned my “artist’s eyes.”

  4. Linen and Tulle (you don’t have a name? it feels kind of strange calling you buy your blog’s name), thank you for commenting! Glad you find time to paint while taking care of the children, and that this art form inspires you too! :-)

  5. Angelique, oh thank you for your lovely comment! I think your description is wonderful and it helps deepens my understanding of abstract. Thanks for the link too, Amy’s work is very different from what I have in mine for my abstract painting, but it is very cool and yummy colours! Thanks for sharing!

  6. oh, I totally agree that it’s easy to create a mess! it’s making it seem easy that is so hard…perhaps one has to try it before judging… this is a great topic…because I think a lot of folks don’t understand or appreciate art that is not so “mainstream” or “beautiful”…

  7. Hanna,

    For me abstract art is so attractive (I think) because it gives me the freedom to undergo the work itself, its atmosphere, to enable it to resonate with ‘something’ inside myself. Not judging/observing a subject, a picture, but just the feeling. And you are so right, it ain’t easy at all to make abstract art. Thank you for choosing this topic in your post!
    Sint Maarten

  8. Hi, Hanna! I have always been drawn to abstract art of all kinds. And often I have heard people comment that it looks like a child could do it. So, when I started seriously following my arty muse, I realized what you mentioned, about how it is not as easy as people assume it is! I actually love abstract expressionism, too, and that is definitely NOT easy, not something that’s readily accessible. But it pleases me so much aesthetically that I know it speaks to me. I love your explorations, always. You are willing to be daring! Bravo!

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