Connections

I’m beginning a new abstract adventure. As I learn more about design, I’m finding myself eager to work with abstract art. This gives me opportunities to look at shapes and colors in different ways, not as representations of things, but as elements I can play with and put together in different ways.

In the past, I’ve struggled with abstract art. Everything I read seemed to focus on feelings. When we hear the term “abstract art” the word “expression” is usually close by. Supposedly we can use abstraction to convey thoughts and emotions that go beyond words and images. I say “supposedly” because I’ve never really been good at it.

I’ve tried. One summer I went through a series of abstract art exercises suggested in an issue of Artist magazine. One exercise was all about listening to music and using that as a “prompt” for an abstract expression. Another exercise was all about choosing a specific special event and using that as a “prompt”. Over and over, the message was essentially the same — take something personal and turn it into abstract expression.

I understood the concept, but the how-to eluded me. All the advice to “paint what you feel” and to “trust your intuition” didn’t help. No matter what my inner voices might be telling me or what my heart might want to create, I still didn’t have the necessary “how-to” skills.

This is what I’m developing now. I’m reading, studying, exploring, and learning that there are different techniques we can use to create abstract art. For me, though, it’s really a way of taking an opposite approach from what I’ve done in the past. Instead of “feeling” first and then painting, I’m jumping in feet first, putting paint on the canvas — or the canvas paper, actually — and then figuring out just what I’m saying.

Here’s one of my recent creations. The title is “Connections” because as the paint moved around on the canvas, it formed many different connections with other areas. It made me think of a game with what looks like white pipes where the object is to turn the different pipe parts to fit.

Of course, nothing “fits” together in this abstract, and that’s fine because this is how our connections in life really are. It’s not one single flow from beginning to end, but different connections reaching out from all parts of who we are.

Connections – Acrylic Abstract Expression on 9 x 12 Canvas Paper by Judith Kraus

Yes, there is a bit of red there in the background. That’s intentional. What does it mean? Nothing, really. It means I liked the idea of working with black and white and red. I could spin a story, though. I could create a narrative and tell you that the red symbolizes blood, the very life force that makes us human and which allows us to make so many different connections.

Another note: if you look closely, you can see — or imagine — little faces, almost ghost-like entities. Maybe this means that our connections go beyond mortal life. I like that thought. I like the thought, too, that our lives get so tangled up that at some point, everything is connected to everything else. That’s a philosophical concept I talk about often. I’m sure I’ve mentioned it many times here in this blog.

Did I begin this painting with any of these ideas? Absolutely not. Yet the final result is an abstract that does express a lot of my thoughts and feelings. So, maybe that’s how it’s supposed to work. Maybe I’ve been going about it in the wrong way all this time.

I like this painting because it does say so much of what I believe about life. I hope you like it too.

18 Comments

  1. Abstract art is fun to create. I remember reading a book on graphic design that had exercises to help you think “out of the box.” One exercise was to draw the sound of popcorn popping.

    I like the movement in your painting. When I first saw the painting, an image of a chainlink fence popped in my mind. Then the thought that the fence was made of milk instead of metal. As I looked more at your painting, I thought of a grid that was breaking free. A rigid, formal structure wanting to move, stretch, dance.

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    1. The sound of popcorn popping! That would be a challenge, for sure. I’m glad you see things in my painting. This is one reason I liked it. The more I looked at it, the more different thoughts came to mind. 🙂

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  2. Yeah, for me abstract art is as much about “process” revealing what’s going on in your head, as it is about conscious expression of something you’re aware you feel. It’s also quite good to learn to relax and let that happen, rather than worrying about what’s going to come out and trying to guide it too much, beyond the process.

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    1. This is a lot of what I’m learning now. Instead of “trying to say something”, I’m just stepping back and sort of letting the art process speak for itself. I can then guide it a bit as I figure out what it wants to say!

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    1. I’ve had a lot of fun playing with different methods of putting paint on the canvas (or canvas paper) and different techniques for moving it around. I’ve liked some of the results I’ve gotten, but at other times I’ve just ended up with a mess! I want to keep learning more about abstract art though. It fascinates me.

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  3. I like it and your description. It made me look closely to the painting. On my watercolour course last summer I’ve learnt to do “Clausure”, basically it a similar idea. I am painting with close eyes, and then deciding what is it. After this developing to the final painting, just slightly adding/ removing details. I am going to do a post with some examples. I will add some historical background stories behind this method:)

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    1. Oh, that will be an interesting post to read! I look forward to it. Painting with closed eyes would be very strange. 🙂 I’ll have to try it. I did that once with pastels… intuitive art without looking.

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  4. the thing i like about abstract is that the art work reveals itself to first the artist and then the viewer. it is a wonder of exploration for both. enjoyed your writing and the canvass. tendrils connection everything can be discovered in every thing.

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    1. Thank you! Yes, that was what I felt with this — everything reaching out and touching other things. It’s an interesting concept to explore. And I love what you said about art first revealing itself to the artist. Wow! I want to always remember that.

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  5. That is where we are different, I can only paint intuitively! I can’t start a painting with any preconceived ideas, and I have a difficult time sticking to exercises or practices like you do. Therefore, I feel like I have little skill as a painter, but it is irrelevant, we all have our own style, it is more about enjoying the process! 😉🥰

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    1. I love the concept of “intuitive” painting, but my intuition doesn’t have a clue as to what to do when confronted with a blank canvas LOL. As long as I can give it a technique to try or some approach to follow, then my imagination can kick into gear. Until then, all I can do is just sit and stare off into space. Interesting, isn’t it, how we each have to find our own way into a painting.

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  6. LOVE this!! 👏👏♥️👏👏
    Confession: I never “see” feelings in abstract work. They’re probably there – somehow – bec so many knowledgeable people say they are, but I just never get it. And althoI’ve done a lot of abstract pieces (so much fun!) I always feel like I have to come up with a “meaning” or feeling, retroactively, bec they’re expected. 🤷🏻‍♀️

    Your blog is truly a delight – intersting AND instructive. 👏👏♥️👏👏

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