Paint What You Feel

My first abstract piece. Watercolor.

My first abstract piece. Watercolor.

I’ve always enjoyed viewing abstract art. I know, though, there are a lot of people who don’t “get it”. My husband is one of them. He can’t grasp the idea of art as an expression of pure feeling. For him, art should look like something.

As I visit different art blogs each morning, I’m amazed by the creative abstractions I see. Colorful images and textures play across the paper, inviting me to see whatever I choose to see. Many are happy images with bright, playful hues. Others are darker, more somber, more thoughtful.

On occasion, I’ve tried to explain to my husband how difficult it can be to create a good piece of abstract art. He still doesn’t “get it”. Oh, but I do. Whenever I put a fresh sheet of watercolor paper on my drawing board and think about creating something abstract, I go as blank as the page. Where does one even begin?

“Paint what you feel.”

That’s what I’ve heard so many artists say. For me, though, those words didn’t explain the magic and mystery that goes into an abstract work of art. I’m only now beginning to find my voice. Even though I might know what I want to say, I’m not yet sure how toΒ say it.

But then, emotions began building up within me last night. I wanted to create something — anything — so I toyed with a few ideas. With my watercolors, I began painting a tree. Tall, majestic, covered with vines of ivy. It was looking good. Until I tried to add leaves.

I’d made another of those mistakes that could have been avoided, you see. I’d mixed enough color to do the ivy growing around the trunk, but not enough for the leaves. Of course, I wanted the leaves to be slightly different in color, so I set about mixing another green.

Each time I use green, I discover again why it has such a bad reputation among artists. I ruined my tree with the awful green I concocted on my palette, and nothing was going to fix it. I tried washing it all off. I tried scrubbing it all off. I knew I was fighting a battle against this demon green.

I didn’t want the paper to go to waste, however. I was using my Arches paper, too costly to just toss in the trash. So, I turned it over, looked at that demon green again, picked up a paintbrush, and let my feelings go.

I was angry with green, frustrated by green, hurt by green. I unleashed the demon on the page and watched him writhe around. I was in control now, and I loved watching the color twist and swirl.Β I dabbed in a bit of gray like some gaping hole in the ground, opening up, ready to swallow the demon and call him back to the hell from which he had come.

Did I mention that my imagination sometimes gets carried away?

My demon green is now at rest. I’ve made peace with the color — for now. I’ve also discovered the pure joy of expressing what I feel through the power of abstract art.

I’d love to hear what this painting says to you!

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About Judith

Author, artist, and an independent consultant for Perfectly Posh. I enjoy sharing my thoughts and interests through blogging and invite you to visit my sites.

63 comments

  1. Yay for you Judith! Go for it! I totally totally get what you are saying! Abstract art is so misunderstood by so many! I LOVE your piece. But when I look at it, I don’t feel anger. It feels calm, and it reminds me of the beach I was just at and looking down at the water. The greens look natural and beautiful to me. LOVELY abstract!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I like it, but I like abstract art in general. If you want to explain it to your husband, maybe go into art history a bit. Basically, every art is an absraction. We define that an orange sphere on the paper is an orange. Our perception tells us the likeness. The adventure of abstract art begins when you explore. Like the impressionists, wo explored light. The expressionists who explored light, shape, mood. Look at the pointillists, the cubists. Look at what Picasso did, and Kandinsky, or Klee. Compare modern art to cave paintings. There may be a message, irony, satire, anger… and we have reached the feelings.
    I always get mad when someone looks at an installation and says, “My three-year-old could have done that. Well, they didn’t. Anyone can copy. Of course then there’s business and favouritism– but where isn’t.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think it requires imagination to appreciate abstract art. We all have imagination, of course, but a lot of people have forgotten how to use it. Maybe viewing abstract art can become a way to get back some of the power imagination brings into our life. As you’ve pointed out, all art is an illusion. That was probably the single most important thing I learned as I began studying art…and it took me a long time to really understand the concept. Once I “got it”, it was like the proverbial “Duh” smack in the forehead. Abstract art just takes the illusion a little deeper, I think, which as an interesting paradox makes it more accessible to viewers because it allows a painting to be interpreted in so many different ways. But then, there will always be people like my husband who just don’t understand that thoughts and feelings are things, too. Abstract things, yes, but things nevertheless. Why shouldn’t we paint them, too?

      Liked by 3 people

  3. dawnmarie

    I think your greens came out excellent. Very peaceful. Now I need to go take a nap after looking at it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Amen to your last comment! I hope you do more of these. This was a terrific exercise, and look at the result. It extricated that demon and there is life in this painting. Bonus and bonus. When I first looked, I saw sadness because the gray was so dark and seemed to dominate. Then I read your copy and I completely understand. Looking back at the painting I see the life in the warm and cool greens, and as Jodi said, it does look natural and real, like water at the beach! Well done, and I hope you explore your feelings more in abstract work. πŸ’›

    Liked by 1 person

  5. And I do see the eye of the demon as I look a third time. Do you see it?

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I love this watercolour and your fight with the demon!
    My thoughts:
    Look up from the darkness and chasms of life, as there is new growth, hope and light just above…

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I agree I don’t see anger but then you probably resolved it in the heat of your battle with demon green. I loved reading all about it and I like what I see and feeling is there! See, you painted your experience, your struggle, that is art! I think why people don’t get abstract because we as humans always want to put a name or face to something….everything. Creative people get it because we look beyond the face or name “thing”, we see so much more! You totally stepped on that side with this painting. Art is difficult at times and yet we come out on the other side, through the ringer for the better for it. So, your name is Judith! I now have a name…..I thought about asking but sometimes I get either shy or wondering if a person wants to stay hidden. When I saw Jodi’s comment and there was your name. πŸ™‚ keep at it, keep discovering.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I like your work a lot. Keep doing it and don’t listen to anyone, even your husband. N.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Glad you got that dealt with and ended up with a really cool abstract! Way to go Judith! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  10. It’s very organic. Looks like nature to me! (K)

    Liked by 1 person

  11. First – I absolutely love this piece. It has good composition, contrast, unity and my eyes like it. I love the green too.
    Second – abstract art really is very hard. And I have the same experience of people around me not getting it, but abstract art has been around as long as any – primitive man used abstract mark making to create pictorial representations of their world. Think of Aztec geometric shapes. Egyptian engravings.
    Plus, it may look like something people think they can do, but really they can’t.
    Thirdly – if you are interested in exploring abstract art further, Deborah Stewart has a great book to get your creativity in this area flowing.

    Well done!

    Oh, one more: Richard McKinley (fine US pastel painter) suggests including purple or orange in among your green….check out his work (or mine, I often use orange somewhere in an expanse of green)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for the suggestions! I will definitely check out Deborah Stewart’s book. I’m familiar with Richard McKinley…love his pastels! I might have added a bit of orange or purple if I’d thought about it. I was mostly just using up all the greens I’d mixed so I could get the paint off my palette, and then I threw in the gray I’d been using for the tree I’d originally started to paint. I love putting in bits of orange among green grasses. I’m really excited now about doing more abstract art in the future. I’m sure I’ll enjoy the book you recommended. Thank you again!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I just checked out her website. She has a lot of books! One is Abstract Art for the Absolute Beginner, another is Exploring Composition and Color in Abstract Art. There are others, too. I’d love to hear your thoughts on any of these that you’ve read. Thanks!

      Like

      • Judith, that is so funny that Vicki mentioned Debora because I’ve been watching her lessons on Artist Network TV (for like the millionth time). Her book is wonderful and her lessons are too! I highly recommend anything of hers you can get your hands on. She is so inspirational, and a great teacher!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I found one of her books on Amazon, so I’ve already downloaded it. I started reading it last night. I’m also thinking about signing up with Artist Network TV and giving it a try. I love the paintings Stewart uses to illustrate her book. Really awesome!

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  12. I think this is a beautiful painting. And everything else you say in your post about abstract art is relevent in my opinion. I find abstract art really takes guts to do, it goes to the heart of why I feel compelled to paint. With representational art, we can always compare to something and based on the likeness, we mentally score it as good, so-so or bad. I think with abstract art it really depends on who is looking, how we look, whether we have an emotion to awake in us, and finally – whether the painting has the ability to do the awakening. Deep stuff! Do more of these!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. an idyllic dreamy scene full of ……… memories and imagination. I love this! the greens in their tonal ranges and variations, were just right Judith. very pleasing!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can’t say that I really “painted” this. It was more an instance of letting the colors paint themselves. I dabbed them around a little and watched them, and in the end, I was quite pleased with how they came together. I’m actually using the image now as my desktop wallpaper.

      Liked by 1 person

      • that is so lovely when that happens, I think. I’m smiling reading that you’ve got it as your desktop!!! πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      • Even my husband commented on it today. He’s not “into” abstract art at all, but he admitted he actually likes that painting. He thought it was really awesome when I showed him my computer desktop.

        Liked by 1 person

      • that is so cool! πŸ™‚ and….. it takes time for them to ‘learn’ to like abstracts. its taken mine 10 years, but, he can now appreciate it. he still prefers representational stuff tho πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      • Like a lot of men, my husband has a degree of color blindness, so I think that makes it especially difficult for him to appreciate something that isn’t representational. Glad yours has “learned” to like them.

        Liked by 1 person

      • that makes it even harder I’d say! that, in addition to all the years of being conditioned to see ‘art’ in a particular way.

        really love doing!

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Pingback: Standing At the Edge | artistcoveries

  15. What a beautiful piece and very inspiring.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Love your insights here. Its quite a process of unlayering and melting, until I can actually paint-feel-paint with authenticity.

    Liked by 1 person

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