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.
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.